Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Earthmen and Other Aliens now available

On Amazon (Kindle) and Smashwords (various formats). Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple, etc. should follow during the coming weeks, as Smashwords distributes to them. I’ve also submitted a PDF version to Google for their e-book store. That’s my first attempt at getting a book included there. If that one’s okay, I’ll start putting all of my others on Google, as well.

Links for ordering, the cover image, and a bit of info:

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Story of the Very, Very Earnest Black Swan

Black Swan is a very, very earnest movie about a very, very good but very, very mentally messed-up ballerina, played very, very earnestly by the usually very, very good Natalie Portman, who unfortunately isn’t quite on her toes for this one.

Portman’s character is given a chance at a career-making role, dancing both the white (very, very good) swan and the black (very, very bad) swan in an odd-sounding version of Swan Lake created by an egomaniacal choreographer (is that redundant?). Who is also very, very sleazy. And slimy.

However, she’s very, very repressed, so while she can dance the white swan with technical proficiency, she can’t let her inner black swan come out and be all evil and seductive on the stage. She also has to contend with a very, very domineering mother (well and creepily played by Barbara Hershey) and a very, very (very, very, very) hot rival (well and deliciously played by the very, very (very, very, very) hot Mila Kunis).

The rival has black wings tattooed on her back. Look! A symbol!

Portman’s character is a sick puppy. She has bizarre hallucinations, can’t separate dreams and fantasies from reality, scratches herself till she bleeds, and thinks there’s a real black swan inside her that, from time to time, comes out – e.g., black feathers poking out through the deep scratches she has inflicted on herself, her neck lengthening into a swan’s neck, black wings growing from her back. She wants to destroy the black swan inside her. She wants to liberate and become the black swan inside her. Everything ends messily.

This is psychodrama as filmed by very, very earnest young film students. The movie works so hard at being arty that it fails at being art. Or entertaining.

There is a fair amount of dancing. Unfortunately, it’s almost all scenes of Portman dancing. She’s a fine actress but only an amateur dancer.

There’s a lesbian sex scene, less than convincing, as is usual in movies, but elevated to hotness because Mila Kunis is in it. (Kunis has one of the few good lines in the movie, and she delivers it with verve.)

Don’t waste your time. If you want to see an entertaining dance movie, rent the delightful movie Center Stage, which starred actual professional dancers who turned out to be excellent actors. I think I need to watch that one again to wash away the black taste of swan crap.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Shrieking Zanies on My Screen

Shrieking zanies on my screen
Make this viewer want to scream,
Make this viewer want some booze.
Endless sports on the nightly news.

How they obsess over injuries.
Mangled elbows, damaged knees,
A ruined back or a shattered hip.
“These could cost us the championship!”

Other news is second rate
When compared to our team’s fate.
Wars and floods and all the rest
Matter not if our team’s best.

Skip the news. The weather, too.
Our team’s coach said something new!
Something stupid, something dumb.
There are no depths he cannot plumb.

Shrieking zanies want to claim
Insight into next week’s game.
Coach’s tactics, players plans,
Braindead mouthings from the fans.

I don’t learn the vital stuff.
Will the drive to work be tough?
Will the roads be wet or icy,
And the drive home tense and dicey?

Did the Dow Jones take a dive?
Is democracy still alive?
Has the Middle East exploded?
Have our rights still more eroded?

Might as well just change the name.
“Mindless babble about every game
“Every night on every station
“And that’s it for information!”

Sure, a title that is snappy
Makes a TV exec happy.
In any case, the fact remains:
Sportscast zombies want your brains.

Oh, if I were but in charge
The solid news I would enlarge
The sports “reporters” quickly fire
And proper journalists I’d hire.

No pretty faces mouthing fluff
Smirking at you, all that guff,
Endless babble, wasting time,
While repeating right-wing slime.

They’d all have brains and be well read,
With politics from pink to red.
They’d read the news and analyze.
They’d be Democracy’s prying eyes.

They’d tell the truth and pay no heed
To plutocrats and all their greed,
Their lawyers and their paid-for tools,
Their Limbaugh pigs and Coulter ghouls.

We’d know what’s what,
Who sold, who’s bought,
What deals were made,
What rights in trade.

All that would show
Upon your screen
In this sweet world
Of might-have-been.

But cash controls the info flows
And plutocrats know what to ban.
Once tumbrels rolled. Aristo knows
The danger of the thinking man.

And so they hire pretty critters
A stupid hunk, a vapid fox,
Who, sitting on their well-toned sitters,
Grin vainly from the idiot box.

Their voices loud, of dumbness proud,
They flirt and smirk and pose and preen.
And we are left of news bereft
With shrieking zanies on the screen.