Blog Update

Still cranking away on updating what I want to do with this. I’ve set getting Julia’s updated DonkeyGirl website and store and all that as a priority first, though; made some good progress on that this weekend, and hope to have it live sometime in the next week. It will need tweaking after that, but it will at least be functional. Then I can turn more attention back to my own stuff.

A Bummer Weekend

It’s been a sad place around here for the last 24 hours after getting news that a friend of the family, Mike Davis, bassist for Detroit rock legends MC5, has passed away. Details can be found here on Huffington Post, as well as other places.

Angela Davis, Mike’s wife (and MC5 manager), is one of Julia’s oldest friends, so Julia has known Mike for many years. She’s been pretty upset, and I was choked up listening to her speak to Angela on the phone yesterday. In the last few years I got to know Mike and Angela as well, and they are some of the friendliest, warmest people I’ve gotten to meet. I was just relaying a story that happened at the Davis house to a friend the other night, which Mike detailed in a blog post called, “Repairman Narrowly Escapes Satanic Cult.” While they lived in Oregon Julia and I were fortunate to visit them a couple times.

The impact on the music world by the MC5, particularly as it relates to the rock music I prefer, cannot be measured. They were giants. Mike will be missed. I’m very sorry for Angela and their boys. I’ll miss talking music and bass playing, remakes and amp settings with Mike.

Short Stories

Week seven in my short story reading challenge continued unabated. Here’s what I read the past seven days:

  1. Out the Window by Lawrence Block from The Night and the Music (ebook) (02/12/2012)
  2. Battle for the Laughing City by Richard Godwin from Thrillers, Killers n’ Chillers (Online) (02/12/2012)
  3. Still Life With Skulls by Charles Gramlich from In the Language of Scorpions (Borgo) (02/12/2012)
  4. God’s Dream by Charles Gramlich from Strange Worlds (Space Puppet) (02/13/2012)
  5. The Great Divide by Shann Ray from American Masculine (Graywolf) (02/14/2012)
  6. The Black Widow Club by Hilary Davidson from Needle: A Magazine of Noir (Spring 2010) (02/14/2012)
  7. People in Hell Just Want a Drink of Water by Annie Proulx from Close Range (Scribner) (02/15/2012)
  8. Look Down, This Is Where It Must Have Happened by Hal Niedzviecki from Look Down, This Is Where It Must Have Happened (City Lights) (02/15/2012)
  9. Fort Apache by Alan Heathcock from Volt (Graywolf) (02/16/2012)
  10. Lazarus by Alan Heathcock from Volt (Graywolf) (02/16/2012)
  11. Love of Life by Jack London from The Great Adventure Stories of Jack London (Bantam) (02/16/2012)
  12. Schott’s Bridge by Donald Ray Pollock from Knockemstiff (Anchor Books) (02/17/2012)
  13. Nickels and Dimes by John A. Imani from Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail! (Switchblade Press) (02/17/2012)
  14. The Lady & the Gimp by Paul D. Brazill from Pulp Ink (ebook) (02/18/2012)
  15. A Night at the Royale by Chris F. Holm from Pulp Ink (ebook) (02/18/2012)
  16. Clouds in a Bunker by David Cranmer from Pulp Ink (ebook) (02/18/2012)

American Falcon

The debut album is all mixed, and we mastered a couple songs to see how they sound. Sounds better than I ever would have expected. Artwork in process; this sucker should be out in March. I’m excited for people to (finally) get to hear it.

Pictures

Here are three pictures (first two shot via iPhone, the third via Photo Booth; all processed via Instagram) to close this out; one from a hike last weekend in the desert, this one from yesterday cross-country skiing the Montana/Idaho border. And one that shows the brutal battle for desktop space. These make me happy. Except the desktop one.

Super Snow Sunday

Spent the morning yesterday out putting in a few miles on snowshoes at the top of Lolo Pass. It was a gorgeous day, and the snow was perfect. There was also about twice as much of it as there was the last time we were there, just two weeks ago. I did a quick photo dump off both the camera and the cell phone, but didn’t do much to enhance them; I think they could be much better. They look cool in black and white as well, but color shows just how perfect a day it was.

At the Lodge
Some skiers just heading out
Obligatory trees against the sky shot
Julia makes her way up the hill

We met a couple coming down as we were heading out. They were excited by the view from the top, and the quality of the snow there. It was like piles of exquisite little crystals, all shattered into heaps that glittered in the sunlight. I tried to capture it on the camera, but didn’t really succeed. Still, the next couple images give you a little bit of an idea.

Snow crystals
More snow crystals

Finally, here are three shots filtered through Instagram.

Across the meadow
Intrepid Adventurers
Top o’ the World

 

The pictures don’t really do it justice — it was just a fantastic outing. We may go up in the evening this weekend and do a moonlight hike. Hope we can pull it off. . . .

 

 

 

Photo Finish Friday

The Ansel Adams Meets Easy Rider Edition.

 

This is a self portrait of yours truly from August of 2007 (damn, that’s almost five years ago!). It’s from Yosemite National Park. I was on a work trip in the Sierras and wrapped up early. Since I was so close to Yosemite and I had never been before, I took a vacation day to go check it out. It is as magnificent as it seems — impossible to describe, really. It’s good to be reminded that, for all my longing to see other places around the world, there is a lot of stuff right here in the USA that can put me on my knees.

I was reminded of it because the following video came across my Google reader today, courtesy of one of one of my favorite feeds, Vagabondish. Fire this sucker up and watch it in full screen. I literally found myself brought nearly to tears watching it, especially the night scenes with the stars and galaxies passing overhead.

 

 

 

 

The J.O.T. Film Festival, Day Four

Monday night was supposed to be Coens Night at the JOTFF. Things started off with a bang.

True Grit

Damn, I love this movie; liked it even more the second time around than I did when I saw it in the theater. Makes me realize just how much I really don’t like the original John Wayne version. Love the book though, which reminds me — need to read more Charles Portis.

Things to note:

  • The take Jeff Bridges has on Rooster Cogburn crushes Wayne’s take. Crushes it.
  • People gripe about Bridges’s garbled lines. I think it fits the character perfectly.
  • Matt Damon is perfect as Texas Ranger LaBoeuf. Does Damon ever not deliver (no, I’m not going to test the answer to my own question by seeing We Bought a Zoo)?
  • Same goes for Josh Brolin. He almost saved that P.O.S. Jonah Hex movie (which would have been awesome if I’d been in charge).
  • Despite all I’ve said about the excellence of the veterans in the cast, young Hailee Steinfeld pretty much steals the show. What an outstanding job.
  • Love the cinematography too. The locations they used in Texas and New Mexico are gorgeous.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the world needs more new Westerns. What a great movie.

 

When it was over, I fired up Netflix, eager to watch Fargo. They don’t have it streaming. My disappointment was huge. So I thought I’d watch Blood Simple. They don’t have that one either! I was enraged. Thought about making a run to the video store, which would have necessitated putting some pants on. I looked at the clock and decided I’d just call it a night and read a goddamn book. When I talked to her over the phone as I was making this decision, Julia said I should watch Miller’s Crossing. Which would have been the smart thing to do. But I can’t have Julia making suggestions on what films should run during the J.O.T. Film Festival. Sometimes a man needs to take stand. Show “true grit” and all that.

 

Next up: X Night.

 

 

The J.O.T. Film Festival, Day Three

Sunday night I changed things up a little bit, firing up Netflix streaming to go with one movie I’d seen before and one I’d had on my queue for some time. All in all, it was another excellent evening of viewing.

Winter’s Bone

Julia and I saw this one when it hit the theater and really liked it. I’d been meaning to see it again, because the theater we saw it in, The Wilma, here in Missoula, can be problematic. I love the vibe of the place, and it is probably my favorite one in town to go to (there are two other theaters, both Carmike chain theaters), but certain movies can be hard to fully experience. If a film has quiet dialogue, or characters with accents, the acoustics of the room combined with a questionable sound system renders much of it a muddy mess in my rock-battered earholes. For this reason we haven’t yet seen Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy because we expect to be stymied by the audio. Which is a drag, because I really want to see that movie. As for Winter’s Bone, much of the initial viewing was compromised by not really hearing what was going on in many spots. I wanted another shot at it to absorb it all over again, and catch what I’d missed.

I read the book and loved it before seeing the movie. The movie, while slightly different from the book, still holds to the story close enough that the spirit of the novel is more than maintained (thankfully, a previous screenplay for the movie, as noted by Woodrell in an interview I read somewhere, had drastic changes with an ongoing plan to turn Ree Dolly, the main character, into some kind of franchise character as an amateur sleuth; which would have sucked). Jennifer Lawrence as Ree Dolly is fantastic, and John Hawkes (one of my favorite actors, I remember him best as Sol Star in Deadwood) as Teardrop is also excellent. Watching it again reminded me that it was one of my favorites films the year it came out.

This kind of “rural noir” as it’s called can be hit and miss for me. I’ve read a fair amount of it lately as part of my Short Story a Day thing I’ve been doing, from authors like Woodrell, Donald Ray Pollock, Frank Bill, etc. Seems to be a big thing right now. At its best, where Woodrell often (but not always) delivers, it is compelling. Often, though, it seems to be little more than sex, drugs, guns and violence porn, and I don’t care for it. Some of it, as I read, makes me wonder what a guy like the late, great Joe Bageant would think of it. When it slips into the realm of being gratuitous I find myself turned off.

Winter’s Bone, for all its grim setting and darkness, doesn’t go there. It’s a tight story, and Ree is one of the best female characters I’ve seen in a long time. Book or movie, you can’t miss. I offer my highest recommendations for both. Its success makes me hope filmmakers are sniffing around other writers delivering the top shelf material in this genre. I could totally see Bonnie Jo Campbell‘s work on the big screen, no doubt about it.

American Grindhouse

This movie is a documentary about the history of exploitation films, starting way back in the 50s and taking us through genres with names like Nudie Cuties, Roughies, Blaxploitation, Film Noir, and on into pornography. And it isn’t just about the movies themselves, but the “Grindhouse” theaters (particularly the collection of them on 42nd street in New York City) that would show them, running films of questionable content 24 hours a day, and the culture that grew up around them. It was interesting and I learned quite a bit — the interview subjects were entertaining, whether they were film scholars or the actual directors and actors working on the early films. The old trailers and posters of course were fantastic. It’s a fairly short movie, and it really only scratches the surface as it jumps from one subject to the next, but it’s worth watching if you have any interest at all in learning about a slice of film history that may be more important in contributing to the success of movies of today, mainstream or otherwise, than you realize. I liked it.

Next up: A Night with the Coens