Sunday, February 26, 2006

"Night Watch"

What do you get when you cross "Aleksandr Nevskiy" with "The Matrix?" I know...yet I don't quite know. Well, let me put it to you this way, you get "Night Watch." Or "Nochnoi Dozor" which means in Russian, "we could conceivably kick America's cinematic a** .

I was amazed, I had experienced a cinematic overflow that had both art and style. From a stylistic standpoint, it was done better than 97% of most American films. It is a sci-fi, horror, action-thriller and I imagine the only reason there wasn't a romantic scene was so that it could be introduced in one of the other two parts of the trilogy.

I mean, you have the heavy "Aleksandr Nevskiy" and "The Matrix" influences. Then there is a sprinkling of "Harry Potter," "Men in Black," a heavy Barry Sonnenfeld/Raimi kinesis, and a not too wonderful usage of "Star Wars." Yet, it doesn't seem all that derivative or at least until hours after the film, when you've finally digested this wonderful film stew.

The director borrows heavily from Sergei Eisenstein
and why not? The man has done more for modern cinematic editing than any other of his contemporaries, save for D.W. Griffith and Abel Gance. Not to mention that he was the most influential Russian director on the rest of the world.

"Aleksandr" was a 13th Century Russian Prince that helped repel a German invasion and it's filming during 1938 was completely intentional. Its battle scenes are recreated in a tighter picture frame than Eisenstein, but it is a little more than a homage here and it works.

The effects were very good and almost up there with ILM in some places. The production design was better than most European productions. The soundtrack was up and down, a gratuitous Korn-sound alike were on two of the tracks, one of the songs sounded like "Blind" and really worked out. The other song was just average Nu-Metal. The Russians obviously know their classical music and I think even my friend Mr. C will enjoy that aspect of the soundtrack.

There was a good, but slightly predictable build up to the climax and then...ppbffft. An ending that kind of just petered out, though part of that was due to the fact that this is a trilogy. Still, they should have given the audience a little more bang and more convincing dialogue when someone switches allegiances.

My other problem with the film besides the somewhat flat ending was that after the initial euphoria wore off, was this a great film or a good film? This is an out of left field experience for me because I seen very little Russian cinema and none this side of the thirties. So I might have been twice as amazed that a country other than America, France, or the countries of and
formerly of the British empire could put together something of this magnitude.

P.S. I forgot, the director even threw in a little of Fiona Apple's "Criminal" music video.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Not that I’m making light of the situation east of Iran, but I am dyslexic with certain words and I have to re-read them to make sure that I got them right the first time.

So as an example, “secretarian violence explodes across Iraq,” was actually “sectarian violence explodes across Iraq.”

It did give me hope for all of one second, I figured that the secretaries just were just fed up and they rebelled...

”Why don’t you make the coffee for once?”

“Pick up your own damn dry cleaning!”

“Why don’t you take care of it for a change? You see, unlike you, I actually work. I don’t just sit in my office all day and do online trading, online poker, surf for porn or whatever the hell it is that you do that makes you turn the monitor off whenever someone knocks on your office door!”

But alas, methinks not. Quoth the Emily Littela, “never mind.”

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Raising Citizen Kane

So I gave the In-laws a nice tour of the City and everyone enjoyed themselves until we ran across the Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom. He introduced himself without being asked and something about this just rubbed my Father-in-law the wrong way, so he played a chin concerto on the Mayor in F-latten M-ajor.

He clean knocked all the gel out of Newsom’s hair and that was no easy feat. The Mayor just lay there, his hair bone-dry for the first time since the first Reagan administration and his eyes had all the focus of Jessica Simpson’s brain.

My Father-in-law just danced around his dazed foe and screamed, “Brooklyn is in the house, Strong Island is in the house, you just got dropped by a house!” The Mayor tried to get up on one hand and my Father-in-law kicked it out from under him.

My Mother-in-law just grabbed her husband and ushered him away as the Mayor just laid there with his eyes closed. I checked his pulse and his eyes, it seemed that he had just a concussion. So I did the only reasonable thing, I took the money from his wallet and left a note:

Dear Gavin,

Thanks for helping with the deficit,

George Bush

Kidding. My Father-in-law hit him in stomach first, then the chin...

...No, seriously, this is what happened. Wednesday, we went to the Legion of Honor...
...and saw a terrific photography exhibition on the 1906 earthquake of San Francisco. They did a nice juxtaposition of photos taken from the immediate aftermath and of the same spots over the last three years.

Then, for dinner? Café Maritime, though I wasn’t in the mood for a lobster roll last night. Grilled hanger steak in peppercorn sauce, man.

Today, we went to Acorn Books

Green Apple Books

Finally, lunch at the Palace Hotel... the Garden Court.

Look at the pictures on their site, seriously. The setting? Pure robber/train/steel baron opulence. A Dungeness crab salad to die for and fine pumpkin sweet potato ravioli. Dine here and you will feel richer than Dale f**ckin’ Carnegie.

The oddest thing though when we left, I heard whispering...


Was it Orson or William Randolph? Go to the Palace and find out for yourself.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dè a tha a' dol?

I’ve got...
Like the Red Lobster’s got claws
To make even a mathematician pause

From the P.C.H. to the L.I.E.
From Strong Island to-The-City
Extends the branches of my Wife’s family

(cue the sound of a horse at full gallop, then coming to complete stop)
(The In-laws are coming! The In-laws are coming!)
Put a sock in it, Paul Revere.
(The In-laws are coming! The In-laws are coming!)
And while you’re at it, get that horse out of here!
...Oh no, there goes the cleaning deposit on the apartment.

Dè a tha a' dol? Which means “what’s up?” in Gaelic.

So the Da and Ma of the Missus flew in last night and I knew I had the correct flight and gate right away because...
A) Everybody was coming off of American Airlines Flight 85 in a
single line.
B) There was no pushing or shoving.
C) Everybody was using their “indoor voices.”
D) There was no note passing.
E) There was no gum-chewing.

No the flight wasn’t out of Singapore, it was out of JFK. My Mother-in-law
was a teacher for almost forty years and raised four girls and a boy. You bet that everyone was on their best behavior or they would wind up serving detention at the baggage carousel.

So if you’re in San Francisco and everyone is sitting up with perfect posture
and no one is talking out of turn, you have a pretty good idea why.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Dodging...'s not writer's block, but a certain lack of passion.

For lack of a better term.

I've fallen off my writing motorcycle and faceplanted into an indifferent berm.

Realistically, I have forty percent of a script that's just sitting there. The beginning, the pre-climax, climax, and finale are all mapped out, but it's a no-go.

I have two short stories down and two more outlined for my first book.

I have my second screenplay, the epic, a.k.a. "The Opus," at ready to be converted into novel form, and all I have to do is type it. If that isn't lazy, I don't know what is. How easy is that? Just re-inject the prose back into it that was there in the first draft, add the descriptions that are lacking from the screenplay form and...instant novel. Hell, the dialogue is tight and is exactly where I want it to be. Still...

The Missus ever the muse, bought me two books to get the screenwriter in me going. One is on Kubrick and the other is on film noir, which should do it because that's good screenwriting porn, folks. Yet, it didn't and the books have just sat there since Valentine's Day.

I'm not rich and I do need the money. I do need the change in career, my job pays okay but it might be phased out within the next decade or my body might give out before retirement and my department doesn't have paper-pusher positions. I should be a better provider for my family and damn if I don't want a house with my own bathroom, office, and central heating. Some storage would be nice too so I wouldn't have to step over everything.

Instead, I sit here like a lazy wild dog sunning where there is no heat to be had, while the metaphorical tsetse flies devour me at an equally lethargic pace.

Cheers, here's a toast with a procrast-a-chino, two sugars and vanilla soy milk.


Saturday, February 18, 2006


For some reason, the biathlon is a sport. I literally cannot stand the charade that they try to pass off as a sport. The only reason why I would even watch it, is to show Procrastinator Jr. something that is in my opinion, the stupidest sport ever.

Granted that you have to be better than an expert marksman and granted, that you have to be in excellent shape But it's not a sport to me, Sparky, (insert your own Cheney on skis joke here).

If you don't know what the biathlon is, look it up on the Wikipedia. I'm not even going to link it, that's how much I hate the thing.

The Missus says that it isn't a sport either. She says, "How does this qualify as a sport? They
should have a real sport for the Olympics like getting your kid ready for school in morning."

And Canada? W.T.F???!!! Losing to Switzerland in hockey???

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More Weapons of Crass Destruction...

(to the key of a certain Aerosmith song)

Dickie's got a gun
He has the liberals and moderates on the run
His war on terrorism has just begun

But what did Harry Whittington do?
In his pocket was a Jack Abrahamoff I.O.U.

Seriously and politics aside, I wouldn't have gone hunting with either of them. One is seventy-eight years-of-age and the other has a history of heart attacks. Couple that with shotguns and you have a death wish worthy of Charles Bronson.

My immediate concern is this woman who was walking her dog yesterday in front my house while I was trying to get some sleep and if she's going to return. You see, she was loud, but her dog was louder. She was shooting the bull an equally loud woman and I almost tuned them out when her dog started going off.

If a 747 cranks out about 120 decibels, these three were at least 125db. I could picture the three of them hovering over my bed with bad Spinal Tap wigs doing a bad Nigel St. Hubbins impression, "this one goes up to 111db." Not to mention the dog was a semi-automatic yapper but someone filed down its firing pin and illegally converted to a fully-automatic machine-barker.


The ladies were talking at the top of their lungs and the dog was worked up over God knows what. A cat? That it was being ignored by its Mistress? The high cost of living has forced the household to switch to dry dog food? For almost twenty minutes!

I swear, the little monster stopped only for fifteen seconds before yapping off for another seven minutes. Granted that I was twice as annoyed because I was trying to sleep, but I'm surprised that one of the neighbors didn't just lose it and throw a bucket of water (or worse) on the dog or the worthless dog of an owner.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Random Musings, Bruisings & Aloe-scented Soothings #5

I am still not J.T. Leroy. Neither are you, so take off that silly wig.

I am however, Write Procrastinator and that’s not just two words of one of my t-shirt slogans, that’s who I am. I’ve barely written a paragraph this week and I put it off because I let the job get me down. The company I work for takes their pound of flesh and then, they take a kilo more just to satisfy some imaginary international standard, as well as their blood lust.

Yet, if I wasn’t Write Procrastinator, who would I be? What would be the name of my blog?

Following the “Snakes On A Plane” progression that Josh Friedman kicked off on his excellent blog by mentioning a then, script in development

Then came in no chronological order, "Velociraptors On The Space Shuttle"

As well as "Alligators in a Helicopter"

So if my blog didn’t already have a name and I wanted to start from scratch, I would go with “Iguanas On The Ipod.”

No, you cannot put the J.T. Leroy wig on me. Get away from me with that thing.

I ran into Mr. C. of
fame yesterday. It was great to catch up on all things cinematic and life-related with him.

He said that his new Missus loves great drama and I recommended “Nicholas Nickleby” to him. One of the best dramas in my meager DVD collection and everyone should see the fine performances of Charlie Hunnam, Anne Hathaway, Jaime Bell, and the immortal Christopher Plummer.

I bought this the day after I rented it. Not so much because I’m a Dickens fan (hell, expletive, no) or for the great acting, but for the extras and the commentary. The director Douglas McGrath did an incredible job with the movie and an even better job as a film teacher with the DVD. It was money that I really couldn’t afford to part with at the time. Yet it was money well spent and the whole experience helped to shape some crucial scenes in a script of mine.

What? “Iguanas On The Ipod” isn’t scary enough? You feel that it doesn’t create enough tension? Look...first, obviously it would only work as a short. Second, I know it would scare at least half the audience because whenever I relate the story of the time I babysat an iguana, half the people I tell it to, visibly shudder.

Unfortunately, the other half bring up the fact that iguanas are food in some countries. You don’t eat someone’s pets, you bastards. Besides, it’s a scarier title than my backup, “Lizards In The Lexus.”

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Time Does Not Go By So Slowly...

Time goes by...
So Slowly

Um, no Madonna. You make it come to a complete stop.

Time takes forever when we're waiting for you to get off the stage and for the Gorillaz and De La Soul to come back on. As I hoped that the humidity would not go up twenty percent which would be the final component of earthquake weather in San Francisco (the other being unseasonably warm temperatures), I prayed that the Gorillaz appearance would be longer than the wee cameo that it was.

Sigh, bad disco time and the Missus literally left the room. Now here are some recommendations to purge your ears of that Madonna cr*p because if you are going to bring back an era, you do it with respect ala' The Stray Cats, The Donnas, Jet, Macy Gray, and Nikka Costa.

Jimmy Bo Horne had the younger brother of K.C. backing him up. As in "and the Sunshine Band" and he had the T.K. Records sound while K.C. was toning it down and doing ballads like that remake of "Yes, I'm Ready."

"Dance Across The Floor" and "You Get Me Hot" were the sh*t and are still better than virtually any dance tracks from the last fifteen years.

As long as you flow with the T.K. and Florida sound of the late 70's, check it out Foxy.

"Hot Numbers" was okay back in the day and holds only sentimental value for me, but "Get Off" was the jam and don't play it near any cemeteries because it's a song that could make the dead rise and shake it.

Closer to the funk from V-Town (Vallejo), California was Confunkshun. They started out with the fat bass of "Ffun," the perfect song for the Electric Slide and if you play this at the wedding while you stumble through that dance, I promise I won't laugh. The keyboards of horns of "Too Tight" and "Got To Be Enough" were a beautiful transition into the 80's.

Back to the bass, back to the funk, Slave...
UTF8&v=glance&n=5174 "Slide" was too risque for radio back then (imagine that??) and the long version of "Just A Touch Of Love," sublime and fine.

Last but not least, Brick. "Ain't Gonna Hurt Nobody" and "Dusic" you've probably danced to or you've danced to a rip-off of those songs via samples. Good stuff but it's not gonna get you off like "Dazz."

Now give these tracks a listen and if you're not going to buy them, at least they purged that junk that Madonna inflicted on your ears.

I'm sorry if the links are a little out of whack and that you will have to copy and paste to make them work, but when they're intact, they push my links and archives diagonally to the bottom.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The One Labor of David Anaxagoras

You've heard of most of the famous Greek Gods, but you don't know of the one that came down from Olympus and to live amongst us in mortal form, David Anaxagoras.

Forget all that you've heard about that ***sy Hercules and his twelve labors, David has cataloged the entire scribosphere!


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Don't Stop Me, I'm On A Lobster Roll

Or should this be titled "Sandwich, The Lobster Strikes Back?"

So this time out, I will omit the shameless MasterCard ad rip-off this time because everyone will think my life is far more extravagant or decadent than it really is. I'm not livin' "large" or "phat," more like medium or p-h-l-a-t.

Mira, la vida loca? No. Yo vivo la vida aburrido (boring). Budget-wise, I allow the family two big outings and unfortunately, I used one of them up on myself last weekend.

Nevertheless, lunch at Johnny's Hamburgers with the family? Fun and priceless. Not only that, I tried something I've never had before...a pastrami cheeseburger.

Dig it. If you read Robert Crais or Michael Connelly, their protagonists eat or meet characters that consume, pastrami burritos. Their novels plant the craving for the gastronomically different. Now I don't think the pastrami would work with beans and rice, but I can tell you that it works just fine with a cheeseburger and it's almost as good as bacon cheeseburger, just slightly different.

So after a nice lunch, I drove the Missus and Procrastinator Jr. over the Golden Gate Bridge and over Mount Tamalpais to look for waterfalls.
Specifically, Cataract Falls.

I had Nikka Costa playing and the sunroof open because I was tired of winter and sixty degrees was just close enough to spring if you compensated by having the heater on. The directions in the two links above were decent, but the signage in the park leaves something to be desired. There are a lot of baby waterfalls and run-offs that can literally throw you off the trail. The main waterfall is something to behold, the jpegs on the two links above do it little justice and the falls literally roar in some spots.

The foliage was dense, it really added to the atmosphere but unfortunately, taking pictures up there was almost like taking pictures in the dark. More than half of the Missus' photos were no good because it was too dark and plus, she had to put the digital camera on "panorama" to keep the camera from focusing too much on the foreground. This gave too many of the pics, the blurry effect.

If you are going to take pictures up there, do it with a digital camera that reacts well to low light or go there closer to mid-afternoon. There's a dam not that far below from where we parked and it plummets to over a hundred foot down, providing quite a view. We did not however, see Tommy Lee Jones chase Harrison Ford over the edge.

So we went a different route than the one from where we came and it was on to Strawberry Village, a shopping center that is just smaller than a mall and is located just north of Mill Valley. I was surprised that I could remember my way through Fairfax, especially because I don't know San Anselmo from Ross but I knew the general direction to the freeway.

What was our destination? Emil Villa's Hickory Pit...or not. Strawberry Village was always Yup-scale but the Hickory Pit was a nice oasis to all of that. A nice 50's suburban-type of restaurant that serves suburban-style BBQ which I'm not exactly crazy about, but Procrastinator Jr. loves. Not my main reason to go there was, as Agent Dale Cooper said, "damn good pie."

We get there and Strawberry Village is more like "Modern Spanish Villa Pretentious Village." Gone are the rustic red tiled roofs and ivy covered facades and gone is the Hickory Pit. What the?... There's a Pasta Pomodoro in the spot where Emil Villa's was and of course I'm in denial like movie star that believes his own hype.

So I had to drive around because obviously they just moved to another part of the shopping center. We only got as far as the back before I decided to ask somebody to keep the blood pressure low and sure enough, another childhood memory gone. Worse yet, another tradition that I cannot pass on to Procrastinator Jr.

I always have a backup plan or least I pretend to. As I drove over the Golden Gate, I remembered because I never did get that lobster roll and I phoned for a reservation. The restaurant's decor is a mixture of Mediterranean, early 60's lounge and modern. Or least that's my impression.

Blue mosiac tile over the bar, white Med-er walls with a nice mural of the shore. Good jazz through the speakers, a little Sinatra when he could still sing, a little Tony Bennet, and a whole lot of classic jazz.

The Missus and Procrastinator Jr. had the beer-battered fish and chips. I split my crab cake with everyone and had a lobster roll, finally. Cue Fred Astaire's "Cheek to Cheek" when he croons "heaven, I'm in heaven."

It wasn't a whole lobster tail in a bun like I saw in "Sandwiches That You Will Like," though I'm not complaining, it was mighty fine eating, claw meat and all. The best part of Cafe Maritime is their Kennebec fries, lighter than air and not oily. You'd swear they weren't fried at all.

I'll be back for another lobster roll next month.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 03, 2006

Random Musings, Bruisings & Aloe-scented Soothings #4

A WTF type of evening, what? I wasn't going to post until tomorrow, I just popped in to check my Yahoo email and the whole world is

Lee Tamahori is turning tricks in a bad wig? It’s not like he needs the money and I’m not going to judge his lifestyle, but degradation is a drug I do not want to know or find out about. Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong aren’t going to marry, after she just said yesterday that they were. Nikki Cox is going to pretend to marry Jay Mohr and dump him for her next co-star, as if her engagement to Bobcat Goldwait wasn’t surreal enough.

It’s obvious, they’re trying to sneak past the watchful eye of Becka because celebrities have pulled more crap in the last two months than they ever have within any previous sixty day period. When she gets regular use of a computer again, they will go back to their once a week shenanigans as opposed to four incidents a day.

Moving back to the real, yet surreal world or at least the world of actual people without publicists...

You, wearing the Blue Tooth ear-set in the foggy San Francisco twilight, you look like a low-budget Borg driving a Yuppie-mobile and you are making me mildly uncomfortable. You will be assimilated, because I have a double mortgage and I’m two payments behind on my BMW lease.

You! Tourist or equally obnoxious Bridge-and-Tunnel nut! It’s this simple...between 7 and 9 AM, and 4 to 6 PM...three rights make a left. You cannot make a left-hand turn at the times that are posted on the sign, that’s what the red circle with the line through it is all about.

Get into the right-hand lane, look over your shoulder and signal before you do. Make a right-hand turn at the next block, another right-hand turn at the next corner, and another right-hand turn to cross the very intersection that you were blocking or just go the **** back to where you came from.

Speaking of where you came from, click your appropriate state or city at

Like San Francisco
Lu-onnng-guh I’-lan-d like my Missus


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Random Musings, Bruisings & Aloe-scented Soothings #3

Remember, you can’t spell “esoteric” without “t-o-e.”

A once Christmas-only phenomenon is now unfortunately, a year around thing. Yet, it’s so simple that you don’t have a degree in physics or even be a high school graduate to grasp this:
You cannot have the parking place or enter the crowded subway car until the person occupying that particular space, leaves.

You can’t spell “esoteric” without “Eric” either. I swear, the bastard is up in everything.

Just before Dashiell Hammett’s writing career really took off, he had a job writing ad copy for Albert S. Samuels Jewelers, a San Francisco jewelry company that was still going strong into the eighties. A jewelry company in the eastern part of the San Francisco Bay or “East Bay” as we call it here, used to have the slogan:
“Your friend in the diamond business, the (insert owner’s name) Company.”

I looked the company up on the web and they have stores in twelve states all together. So...someone talked the owner into changing the slogan for the radio ads and whoever this person is, I guarantee that they will not become the next Dashiell Hammett.
(insert same owner’s name). He’s dull, but he’s brilliant!”

I was tempted all of five seconds to go the "Half-naked Thursday" route to increase the blog's readership, but I imagine pictures of me would scare away a million times more readers than they would attract. Still, my calves?'d swear that they have implants. But calves are not the milkshake that brings all the ladies to the yard.

Labels: , ,

WHAT Is That Smell?

This maybe as political as I get on my blog for awhile, but I can link a noxious weed to a tabloid
in about eight paragraphs and one line from a song.

Well, there's no use crying over spilled milk and not only has this milk spilled, but it has curdled as well. It's rancid even. Still, listen to me bawl...

Oooh-oooh that smell, the smell of death around you

Not quite what Skynard had in mind when they wrote that song.

Three more Americans have lost their lives this morning over fictitious weapons of crass destruction while Iran gears it up for real and we posture. Alito is the final piece to a jigsaw puzzle of a black boot nightmare, we wiretap any college student that eats granola and the real terrorists kick back in Pakistan without any fear of reprisal. Scores of Louisianans are being buried in anonymous graves because they'll never be able to identify them and the Federal Government still points fingers at the Mayor of New Orleans, claiming he never asked for any help. What the hell form in triplicate did he have to send to D.C, when you could turn on even Fox News to see those people go without food and water?

Wow, these bureaucratic monsters are far worse than something out of a Terry Gilliam movie, people. They've had any semblance of empathy surgically removed and Gilliam patterned his after European bureaucrats who scare even the I.R.S. Because unlike anyone in North America, they have no accountability because they cannot be fired. Ever. Speaking of zero accountability, got oil company profits?

Florida and Ohio aside, President Shrub was elected somehow and yet, no one I know of outside of one of my brothers-in-law will admit to voting for him in 2004. Though on this coast, my friend Mr. C and I haven't talked politics, or much of anything in the last two years, and I imagine he voted along the party line with his right hand just like I've voted the party line with my left (ugh, Dukakis still doesn't wash off!).

My point is this and I'm not dredging up how he got elected per se, I'm just saying that we're stuck with a guy that makes Hoover look like F.D.R. or Eisenhower in comparison, depending on your party preference. Yet, again I stress, only one person I know has openly admitted to voting for the Shrub in 2004 and I know a lot more conservatives than most liberals and moderates north of Orange County, California, do.

No one at work besides the folks that gossip will admit outright that they buy tabloids, yet companies manage to sell millions upon millions of the rags. And yes, I've actually seen them outside of hair salons and supermarket checkstands.

So the question I ask you, is the Shrub the tabloid equivalent of President? Somebody buys them damn things and someone voted his ass in there twice. Only you're not stuck with a particularly noxious issue of The Enquirer featuring Benifer-brittanykfed-bradgelina-judelawnanny over and over again until January 2009.