MIDWAY – a movie review

Well, after two straight months of working full tilt boogie with my day job and storytelling appearances, I treated myself yesterday to a trip to the movies to see MIDWAY.
 
It was my kind of audience. Maybe three old boys who knew how to keep quiet in a movie. I guess counting me, that made four old farts – but that was fine by me.
 
MIDWAY was a good old fashioned war movie. They didn’t try to cram any ill-fitted love story into the mix. There was nothing but solid action and reasonable acting. There wasn’t a lot of great dialogue and some of the acting was a little cardboard, but a couple of the performances loom largely in my thoughts.
 
Woody Harrelson did a rock-solid job as Admiral Nimitz. I have generally been impressed with Woody’s work, but this one really stood out. Dennis Quaid portrayed Bull Halsley and he stood out in every scene that you saw him in.
 
Geoffrey Blake – who I can’t remember having seen in any mother movie, although he has been in quite a few that I have actually seen – did an amazing job as director John Ford (the dude who directed The Searchers and about a billion other John Wayne movies, who was shooting a propaganda piece on the island of Midway right in the midst of the battle. I don’t quite know how he did it – but he managed to look and walk and act like John Ford. Great performance in a character who was on the screen for maybe three minutes, tops.
 
I will say that if you AREN’T familiar with the basic story of the battle, you might find yourself a little bit confused as the action plays out. My advice to you is to either just say “fuck it” and lean back and enjoy the cinematic splendor of good old fashioned CGI carnage.
 
OR – alternatively – you can just say “fuck it” and go and read a book. Or even catch one of several documentaries detailing the events of the battle. You ought to be able to find one on Youtube or Amazon Prime.
 
The critics have not been kind to this movie. They call it old-fashioned, primitive, and outdated. Well, I guess I am primitive, old-fashioned, and outdated as well – because I enjoyed myself immensely.
 
Even afterwards, when I found myself standing in the cold blustering wind at the bus stop for about 45 minutes waiting for a bus back home, I do not regret going to see this flick. It is DEFINITELY a big screen movie.
Yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon
Midway

Racing the Mutant Cheetah – or – how fast can you write anyway???

 

Okay, so a buddy of mine just posted on his Facebook page that he was worried about how other writers seem to be able to write thousands of words a day while he is just poking along with 500 words on a super-good day.

So I told him this…

(with apologies for the potty mouth)

 

Forget about writing. Let’s say you’re out for a jog. The Doctor has read you the riot act or your wife has told you that if you gain one more pant size that she is running off with the mailman, or maybe you just want to get out there and blow the stink off you. So there you are, your gray hair stretched out behind you, thinking roadrunner thoughts while living in a Slowpoke Rodriquez reality.

Then all at once this fucking young kid blows past you. I mean, the bastard is making it look effortless. Then this goddamned Detroit housewife, head in curlers and lipstick half on comes rolling on past you, making you look sad and sick. Then a three and half year old kid in a runaway pram blows past you while he is humming the theme from Rocky. What the fuck do you now? Well, you could beat yourself up and kick yourself for being the slowest bastard in the whole fucking universe, including that road-killed tortoise that is playing pancake-forever on the side of the road, run over by a kid in a fucking runaway pram. You could give up on jogging and plant your ass in an easy chair watching old Richard Simmons videos and waiting to fucking die – OR you could just say “Fuck that shit.” and just keep on jogging along at whatever speed that you can muster, reminding yourself that every step – and every single fucking word that you write – is taking you closer to wherever the hell that you want to go. Sure you could learn to write faster. You could write a billion words a minute and some goddamn hopped-up mutant cheetah from an alternate dimension is going to roll on scribbling past you at a billion and one words a fucking minute.

Just remember, you aren’t racing with that asshole mutant cheetah. This isn’t the fucking Writing Olympics. This is just you, doing your own thing just as best as you can. Forget about that fucking cheetah. I mean, didn’t your mother ever tell you that cheetahs never prosper?

PET SEMATARY (2019) – A Review

Okay, so I watched PET SEMATARY (2019) and I wasn’t all that impressed. The visuals were pretty cool and it did go places where a creepy horror movie ought to go, but as a retelling of the novel and a reboot of the 1989 flick, it really sucked out loud.

First problem was the casting. Lithgow did a solid job and it isn’t his fault that he had to stand in Fred Gwynne’s shadow but he just didn’t have that ominous mixture of good and evil that Gwynne portrayed. I mean Gwynne could be creepy when he wanted to be. I loved him as Herman Munster, but his role in PET SEMATARY (1989) as well as in MY COUSIN VINNY (1992) were amazing for such lightweight flicks. I know that he did an awful lot of theatre in his later years, but I wish he’d showed up in a few more movies.

The Dad kind of looked like a wanna-be Bill Pullman, wearing a Quentin Tarantino mask made out of seriously-melting Silly Putty. The wife – well, she didn’t have all that much to rise to, standing in the I-can’t-act-for-shit shadow of Denise Crosby – but she still left me feeling totally underwhelmed.

Speaking of masks, the use of animal masks in the new movie seemed like a wasted chance. I mean, with all of these local kids wearing masks and following the Pet Semetary rules of burial like they were, it would made better sense to turn it into something along the lines of VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED or THE WICKER MAN (the Chris Lee original, not that freaking ham-on-cheap-crack version that Nick Cage tried to pull off).

I had the same sort of issue with the latest Stephen King Netflix movie, IN THE TALL GRASS. I had really been looking forward to that one, but it just gave me a hernia of the brain. I mean, the whole thing was steeped in the juices of pure undiluted WTF pointlessness.

So, in hindsight, I’m glad I watched PET SEMETARY (2019) and I’m glad I didn’t actually pay any money for it, unless I forget to return it to the library on time. I still aim to sit down some time soon and watch PET SEMETARY 2 on Amazon Prime.

What can I tell you?

I am a glutton for horror flicks.

 

Yours in Storytelling,

 

Steve Vernon

Sam Elliott’s THE HERO – a review

I’ve been a member of the Halifax Library for an awful lot of years, but lately I have been borrowing movies and watching them. Just this week I watched Sam Elliott in the movie THE HERO – and I loved it.

The Hero

If anyone out there in the Halifax area remembers The Wormwood Dog & Monkey Cinema (the best movie popcorn on the planet – situated on Gottingen and Barrington Street before that) – THE HERO is the kind of a movie that would have packed that art house on a hot Saturday night.

The movie is a thoughtful, quiet, quirky kind of study on life and loneliness and coming to the end of one’s own rope and trying to twist out a few more strands of forget-me-knot hope. It is a story of loneliness and not giving way to despair.

It isn’t a typical kind of story. It isn’t a neat kind of story. It is a kind of a head-scratch of a story that leaves you wondering just what comes next. It a story of a man learning how to work with the hand that fate has dealt him. It is a movie made for old farts just like me.

Think about Jeff Bridges in CRAZYHEART. Think about Mickey Rourke’s THE WRESTLER. Think about Lee Marvin in MONTE WALSH.

In the hands of another, less competent actor, this movie would have dropped like a frost-heaved tombstone. But Sam Eliot drop-kicked this role right out of the park.

(All right, so I’m mixing my metaphors between baseball and football. Stop you’re whining and be a sport about it, now will you?)

Some folks are going to think this movie sucked over-ripe bananas, but I really enjoyed the heck out of this flick.

Steve Vernon
Writer, Storyteller and Windbag-at-Large

Rushing Into Skynet – Why I Hate Self-Checkouts!

Okay, so the telephone rang tonight and a recorded voice informed me that they were recording this conversation…

Really?

I don’t know WHAT the conversation was about. I hung up before we even got that point in the game. I mean, what person in their right mind would sit there and listen to a recorded conversation that was recording your responses?

Of course, I was sitting there watching Netflix, and you could argue that meant that I was already listening to recorded dialogue – but that really isn’t the point, now is it?

Just a couple of weeks ago I walked into a local Superstore. I was heading for the walk-in clinic, suffering with a bad case of bronchitis. I had some time to kill and I thought that I might buy myself a little treat to help pass the time. Only none of the cash registers were open – none, except for the self-checkout machines. Two customers were standing there being guided patiently by two semi-almost-next-to-middle-management-staff who were eagerly working themselves out of a job.

“Well,” I said to myself. “Skynet is coming.”

Terminator

Did I buy anything?

Nope. Not me. I am no collaborator. I am not about to surrender myself to the dehumanizing digitized digestion of society.

You see, I’ve had experience with this sort of phenomenon, from a long time ago. Back about 25 to 30 years ago I worked in a furniture making factory over in Burnside. We made furniture for Ikea. That meant sawing up great sheets of particle board. The first cuts were made by handloading sheets onto a gigantic panel saw. It was a five man team, with two loaders, one chief, and two unloaders.

That’s five gainfully-employed laborers. Ten or fifteen if you count shift work.

Then, one day they built a great big computerized panel saw.

POW – that five man team was cut down to a two man team, just like that.

Just like that, three fellows were out on the sidewalk, looking for another job.

I think about those three guys, every time that I see one of those damn self-checkouts.

Heck, one of my very first jobs was retail. I worked twelve years at two different Canadian Tire stores, running the plumbing section, the hardware section, the warehouse, and for many years I was in charge of the Christmas section.

To this day I still cannot listen to an Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas album without flinching.

So I don’t use self-checkout machines.

I don’t talk to robots who phone me up in the middle of my Netflix binge-watching.

In all honesty, I do use an ATM for simple withdrawals, but if I have any real banking to do, I prefer to talk to a teller.

It is just hard to get around this sort of creeping social infection.

Just a couple of weeks ago I walked up to a desk in the Halifax Public Library. Three people were standing behind the desk and I figured that one of them could help me check out my books. I knew that there was a check-out desk on the main floor, but I was on a higher floor and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.

“We don’t do check-out up here,” the lady at the desk told me. “But I’d be happy to show you how to take out your own book at the self-check-out machine.”

I did not want to be rude, so I let her show me.

Then I told her that I probably wasn’t ever going to bother using one of these machines.

“Why not?” she asked me, not rudely, just in a curious kind of a way.

“Well,” I said. “I look at one of those machines and I just see an unemployed librarian.”

“Oh,” she said. “Well, they wouldn’t fire me. I do other work besides checking out books.”

I swear, that’s what she told me.

I wished my memory was strong enough to have quoted this verse to her – but I will let her rip for the sake of the blog – and yes, I cheated and used Google-Fu to pull up this version.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. 

Martin Niemöller

So, what do I say to Skynet?

Not today…

Self - Checkout

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

 

 

The Greatest Trick by Steve Vernon

It’s funny but I had almost forgotten about writing this story. I’m glad that the reviewer enjoyed the ending. I wish to heck I could remember how I ended it, but I know where to find a copy on my bookshelf.

Earth and Skye

Overview

Evolve

Title: The Greatest Trick
Author: Steve Vernon
In: Evolve (Nancy Kilpatrick)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves:Politics, Vampires
Dates read: 3rd March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Edge
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: He didn’t have that much in his wallet.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

We all know that politicians are blood suckers. But what happens when a vampire wants to become one too?

Thoughts

I’m not really into politics. Or politicians or really
anything of the sort. I think that I should be a little more involved, but
realistically, it’s just not going to happen. Which made it kind of fun to read
a story about a bloodsucker going into politics. Literally.

The entire way throughout this story I was waiting for the
punchline. There had to be some kind of evil, ulterior motive to a vampire
running for office. Which there…

View original post 52 more words

Fighting the Mind Killer

Fear is the Mind Killer

I’m on my last day of antibiotics and the bronchitis has cleared up and I am hoping that I have seen the end of this shit. I am pretty sure that I have figured out where this infection is coming from. I believe my CPAP is full of funky germs that infect while I sleep. So I’ve bought new hoses and a new nozzle and new filters. I’ve bathed that sucker in strong vinegar and sung to it and I’ve hit it with two back-to-back ozone blasts, and I am hoping that killed all of the funk.

But I am scared.

Fear is a natural part of a person’s life, especially as they get older. Life becomes a little more precious. We have got more to do with our time and less time to go around. Things have begun to pile up.

A friend of mine online described a recent experience with fear. He had misplaced his glasses. They were expensive glasses. Heavy-duty prescription jobbies that were just too darned expensive to keep a second pair around. So he freaked out a little and then he found them and everything was cool again except that he was left with the lingering fear that he was getting old.

You have to understand that he just retired, so that thought was looming over his lizard brain just naturally, without the worry of losing a pair of expensive one-of-a-kind glasses egging it on.

So I told him this.

I told him not to worry about it. I told him that as a fellow gets older he has got more crap built up in the attic. Makes it harder to find things. Doesn’t mean that you’re senile. Doesn’t mean that your cerebral circuits burnt out. Just means that it took you a while to process the thought – and then, while you were taking a while you freaked out.

Fear is the mind killer.

Fellows our age are full of fear.

(and yes, I know that women are full of fear as well, but I just can’t help but use the masculine terminology, just because I find that I think clearer if I don’t get all caught up in being grammatically and politically correct about things. So I still say “he” and “fellow” when I am referring to experiences that reflect my own life)

I told my buddy that fear is only a natural experience. I told him to not give it anymore weight than you need to. I set down my glasses all the time and stomp around the house waving my arms like they were fucking magic antennas and then I trip over my glasses and feel like ten kinds of stupid and I think to myself “Shit, I’m getting old.”

Damn.

I am so freaking wise, sometimes.

Why in the hell can’t I ever seem to remember all of this deep and spiritual wisdom when I am running around the house and waving my stupid magic antenna arms, trying to find my goddamn glasses?

I dedicate this blog entry to my wife, who always seems to know where the fucking things are – especially when I don’t.

Fear 2

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

If you enjoyed this blog entry why don’t you grab a copy of CAT TALES #1? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NW919M3