Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Spoiler Free Look at The Killing Joke

I’m still not going to spoil the Killing Joke here, but I do feel the need to address why I love this story in light of the negative press it is once again receiving.    And much of this press is rightly deserved in my not so humble opinion as the writers made choices I personally wish they had not made.   The main writer has also expressed regret over some choices he made while writing it, so I am not alone in my critique, but  I also see how those choices do work  in the narrative of the story and actually makes sense in the demented outlook of the character driving the story.   They are choices I would not have made, but do not distract from the overall story for me.

What makes the Killing Joke unique and special to me is that Alan Moore took a character famous for his lack of motive and gave him a very strict focus; a purpose.   Joker was not out to “watch the world burn” as Nolan’s Joker did.   He is not engaging in some comical criminal plot as a device for a child’s cartoon.   He is not seeking vengeance or any other contrived comic book villain plot in any way, shape, or form this time.    This time he is seeking something everyone can relate too: understanding and vindication of who he became.   He needs to know that what he became is not his fault and that anyone would have followed his path if given his circumstances.   It is the most human motive I have seen for a comic villain outside of Magneto’s desire to prevent another holocaust.    It is a motive even Batman himself could relate to.

Again, without spoilers, Joker believes his life is the end result of “one bad day.”  He then surmises that Batman’s life is also a result of “one bad day.”  If “one bad day” can make Batman into Batman and Joker into Joker, then “one bad day’ should change anyone.   He finds the most honest person he can find, Commissioner Gordon, and subjects him to a truly bad day in the hopes of proving his theory correct, thus vindicating himself and showing that he could have just as easily been Batman and, more importantly, Batman could have just as easily become him.  It is the details of this “bad day” that have caused so much controversy around The Killing Joke, but it does fit within the context of the “bad day’ Joker himself suffered.  And yes, we do get an origin story for the Joker, but even he admits it could be pure fiction.

What makes the Killing Joke such a monumental comic and story is that the writers took two huge figures in American Mythology, a hero and a villain who traditionally are at odds with one another, and showed they were more alike than they were different.   It showed us that anyone could become a hero or a villain based on the circumstances of their lives and makes us wonder, if given the depths of that “one bad day” if we would be Joker, Batman, or Gordon when the day was over.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Killing Joke

How do I review a movie like The Killing Joke without ruining anything?   I can't really, so I won't try.   I will simply say it is as close to the source material as I have ever seen a movie get; almost too close, but to expand on that is to ruin part of the story.    I will simply say this is the perfect send off for Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill.   As Batman and Joker respectively, they have defined the voices for generations and it is fitting that what started out as a kid's cartoon ends in this R-rated masterpiece some 26 years later.

Get it.  Buy it.   Rent it.  See it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Poem for Joe

I will not Drudge up the Retort
Not even as a last resort
I will not go there for the news
Nor for its echo chamber views

I've come to see through all that clatter
That none of it will really matter
He said, she said, they all say
Will all not change the light of day

A quote, a note, a pathetic gloat
A hunt for a flag, crowd approval parade float
A glance from the god who watches the words
Rewarding the loyal's most devoted show of the absurd

I'm past it; I'm free; I am lose of it's grip
I no longer lurk or worry of a slip
I no longer enjoy politics being played as a sport
I no longer seek to gaze at any Retort.

And why "a poem for Joe" you may sit and wonder
But the answer is simple, no need to ponder
I know that you so hate when I make my words rhyme
And I'm on vacation; I had plenty of time.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Beach Diary Part II: Another Pot Story

What do you know; there is a second part.  Wonder if there will be a third.   Who knows?

I'm not wearing my ponytail much here on the beach.  I am on vacation and, in the immortal words of David Crosby, I choose to "let my freak-flag fly."  I am usually also wearing my beat-up floppy hat as well so I imagine I must be a slightly unusual sight; HIPPIE ALEART!  Today I added a tye-dyed Greatful Dead "Muppets" themed shirt and baggy cargo shorts to the mix as I walked to the Otter for lunch.

I tend to miss "morning activities" while on vacation with the family, and today was no exception.   The rent-a-house on the beach was empty when I met the day, so I went to the Otter for lunch; a nice fun cheap place in a very expensive tourist trap.   I put on said GD shirt, floppy hat, cargo short, mirrored aviators, and left sans ponytail to grab me some morning fuel.

On my walk to the Otter, a black car rode up along side me as I walked away from the beach.   Inside I could not see much detail, but what I did told me a story.   I saw a thick tanned muscular arm with a massive tattooo leading  up to a spaghetti string shoulded muscle shirt, black of course, and dark shades under a black baseball cap...brim backwards.    I quickly looked about for hidden cameras wondering if Jersey Shore was doing a Florida special.  He was nice enough to turn down the music before he slowed down to a crawl to match my speed.

"Hey!"  He said.

"Yes?"  I was confused.  Nobody knows me here.

"Do you um...."

There was a long pause.  A very long pause.   I think I walked past two houses before the next syllybal came out.

"Do you know where to um..."

I knew where this was going.  Happened last year too.   The year before that, I was on the opposite end doing it to someone else.   Last year I was sitting on the beach at night, enjoying a cheap over the counter cigar, when a kid (I say "kid" because I am old and anyone under 25 is a kid) sat next to me and attempted some random meaningless small talk before asking me if I had any "weed."    I hate when people call it "weed" as "weed" has such a negative connotation.   I told him I didn't, finished my cigar, went home and smoked a bowl.   You can say "asshole" anytime now.

"Do you know where to um....get a bathing suit?"

He chickened out!  I know what I looked like to most people and know what he was looking for.   Lucky for him, he asked a question I could say "yes" to instead of my usual "I wish" answer as it happens a bathing suit store is located next to my favorite Mexican restaurant ever right here in Captiva.   I could give him detailed directions on where to get a bathing suit.  

He drove off and I was happy I could have helped someone here for once get what they were looking for.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Beach Diary Part One

There may not be a part two, but I am on vacation and don't want to think about titles should I decide or, more honestly, remember to continue this.

As I said, I am on vacation with the family.   Parentals, in-law, and niece in tow; sibling plus spouse on Tuesday, then sibling plus family friend Thursday.   Going to be a nice slow build up to total family and should give me plenty of time to socialize with each and introduce the newest incarnation of me.

Tonight I went to the beach; post sundown.  Daytime on the beach is nice, but nighttime is what I come here for.   I love the roar of an almost unseen ocean.   I love, LOVE the star that Miami lights cruelly deprive me of.   Yes, the pink night of Miami is quite cool in its own way, but give me stars anytime.

I remember quite fondly being in Colorado and, forgive me if I shared this story, thought I saw a U.F.O.

I lived in a hostel for the first 6 weeks or so I lived in Boulder back in 95.   It was Fourth of July weekend when I moved there and the streets were literally ablaze with couches (a Boulder tradition at the time).   The fires and chaos were interesting, but it was the stars that stole my attention that night and for weeks thereafter.

One night I was star gazing when I saw a star cruising along the sky at a steady pace.   "A UFO" I thought to myself and quickly scanned my surroundings for signs of a second pair of eyes to confirm what my stoned eyes so clearly saw.  

Did I mention Boulder had great pot and it was plentiful?  My first move upon moving to Boulder was introducing myself to the local homeless youth who occupied The Hill section of Boulder.   Most were Deadheads like myself, and were simply hanging around.   It was an amazing community I met there, beyond belief and I will write of them one day, although I can't guarantee the accuracy of my account: they had access to amazing pot; good enough to make one see UFOs quite possibly.

So this UFO taunted me for about 30 nights straight and there was never another soul around to see it.   It really started to bother me.  Was I insane?  Colorado was the UFO sighting capital, right?   It had to be a UFO!   And it was there EVERY NIGHT FOR 30 NIGHTS STRAIGHT!  A U-F-UCKING-O!

Finally, night 31 I have another person outside with me at the time the UFO comes for its nightly tease and I calmly ask the man, although I wanted to jump up and down and scream "UFO!", I asked him if he saw that light up in the sky.    He looked up and calmly asked me "what, that satellite?"

Seems being a mile high after living a lifetime in Miami exposes one to many wonders all at once.   It is a lot to take in at one time.   I simply responded "yeah, the satellite."

"What about it?"

"I've never seen one."

That was true, but I'd be damned before I told him I thought it was a UFO.   I hadn't been in Boulder long enough to expose that foolish naive eager to believe side of myself yet: too many predators and not enough allies yet.

In Colorado, I saw the Milky Way one night.  Tonight I saw bub kiss.   A few stars and a sliver of the moon.   My binoculars were useless unless I wanted to see darkness close up.    But there was a roar; a peaceful, lulling, pacifying, loving, soothing roar.   It is going to be a great week.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Session Whatever Last Week Was Plus One

No details on my session this week as this one was just for me.  Thera is amazing at asking the right question at the right time and bring back up previous points at the right time.   I enjoy the sessions thoroughly and feel I am better than I ever was thanks to her.  I want to talk today instead about a friend of mine who is going through a similar journey, only without the cancer.  

My friends, whom I will not name due to my policy on other people's lives, noticed an inner peace within me and remembered some things I said to him about removing negative music and movies from my life and he decided to begin his own journey.   Now I should pause for a brief moment to explain something about this friend: he is wise beyond his years, but just wise enough to get himself into trouble.   He is a man who knows far more than he realizes and from whom I learn quite a bit.

He and I talk life a lot and he is a confidant of mine.   My nihilism is not accepted by him, nor is anyone else's ideas of fate or destiny.   He believes life is what you put out there and most of us put out negativity, so that is what life shows us in return.   He agrees with my statement that life is inherently without meaning, but disagrees life is meaningless.   He believes in the reflective nature of reality and that what we put in ourselves is what we use for our lives and how we live our lives determines what we put in ourselves.   To use another cliche' (the sign of a tired writer): he believes life is simply an empty glass and we choose what we fill it with.   Most people choose piss and vinegar when they should focus on using only the most pure nectar of life they can find.

I think he may be on to something.