Monday, October 31, 2011


I really, really, really like monsters. Really.

More than anything else, I like the design and the creativity of them. Someone had to come up with that thing, whatever the monster is. Some prefer to call them “creatures” these days, but I like the word “monster.” Monsters literally have to be created by an artist of some kind. An author, a graphic artist, a film maker. It’s really amazing when you stop and think about it. If you think it’s easy to do, step away from the computer right now and go draw an original, cool monster. I dare you.

Trust me, it’s not easy. Especially the “original” part.

I like how creepy some of the monsters are, but only if there is some kind of fun through line in the story surrounding them. I don’t much like movies that only scare. GOTCHA. They’re fine, but that’s not really my cup of ectoplasm.

I like the idea of monsters, the notion, mostly because I know they aren’t real. The more real something is, the less you actually want to be scared by it. That’s my hypothesis anyway. If you think that death in a movie is anything like the real thing, then you are deceived. And monsters are the same way. Real monsters, which are almost always human (or, perhaps, an illness), are not something we really want to toy with. Some human beings are much more genuinely frightening than anything anyone has ever managed to put on a movie screen. Trust you me.

Much better, or at least much more fun, are the monsters we create with our imaginations. The ones who say something about the nature of being human. The ones that creatively reflect the things we feel inside, good and bad, but have a hard time expressing. I think the pretend monsters help us, in a small way, to cope with the threat of the real ones.

And, even if they don’t, they’re fun, plain and simple.

© LW Publishing 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cheap Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I finally saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It was at the dollar show. I almost never go to see a first run film anymore. The prices have gotten outright stupid. So, I know this is old news for a lot of people, but I also know that a lot of people, like me, don’t see movies until they come out on DVD or Blu Ray. If you’re patient, you can see movies on the cheap. Used DVDs, cheap rentals, dollar shows and the like. That’s how we roll here in Money Doesn’t Grow On Treesville..

So. Back to the movie.

It was pretty good. Not a great film, but a well done film. It was entertaining and had a good energy to it, with a fairly compelling plot line. It dealt with questions of “science gone wrong,” and it was interesting because the motive of the scientist (at least the main one) is a good one, but it still produces catastrophe, partly due to the efforts of opportunistic investors and partly due to the passion of the scientist. Just this simple theme of motive not equaling out to good results is an interesting cautionary premise that has some moral weight and gives you a little something to think about when you leave the show.

The acting was good. John Lithgow is always good. But I’ve always felt like he wasn’t quite as on as he could be. Don’t know why. It’s just an impression from years of watching him in movies. But he’s a good actor. My only complaint might be James Franco, who isn’t a bad actor. He’s just not an especially expressive one. His face just doesn’t emote like some of the great actors. You spend time wondering what the guy is thinking and feeling when you know the director wants you to know. If you want an example of someone doing it right, watch Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland. He says so little with his mouth, but masterfully speaks volumes with his face and eyes.

The effects for ROTPOTA were good, but not great over all. In some set pieces they were phenomenal. In others, they seemed a bit rushed and shoddy. It was a big task that probably should have cost more time and money than it did. The main ape character, “Caesar,” has two or three basic phases in the film. He is shown as a baby chimp, as a young chimp and then as a full grown chimpanzee. Once he’s full grown, he looks pretty darn good. You can forget, for the most part, that he’s an animated piece of art. They had Andy Serkis (aka Gollum) do the motion capture acting. That was a good idea. But the earlier image incarnations are not nearly as well done as the final one. They come off plastic and stiff. I was worried about this from the trailers and they didn’t fix it. You really have to make an extra effort to suspend your disbelief for the “young” Caesar. I usually able to do that, for the most part, but it was a little tough with this one. It “pushes the bounds of credulity,” as they should say.

Anyway. Did I like it? Yes. It was fun. It was entertaining and had good pacing and acting. Was it a truly great film? No. Those have become more and more rare these days. If you like Sci Fi at all, you’ll probably enjoy this. Watch it for fun. Don't take it too seriously.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Time Pieces

I was so small that I could hide under the end table in the living room, next to the couch. I’d lay under the table and watch feet go by. My mom would play Marty Robbins’ Greatest Hits on our long stereo/TV unit. I was very impressed by this media device. It took up an entire wall and served as a table to put food on when guests were over. I stared at the speakers on the thing, with the green carpet soft beneath me. The green curtains flowing in the breeze. I could smell Windex in the air mixed with the smell of spaghetti sauce or some other thing going in the kitchen. It seemed that my mom was always cooking or cleaning. Washing clothes. Doing something in the yard. I’d sit under that table and watch the feet and listen to the voices. Hearing what happened in the house without me in the mix. Amazed sometimes at how long it took someone to ask where I was. I remember the light, the cast of it. There are many different kinds of light. Morning light, afternoon, evening. The light of bulbs in dark rooms. The light changes the colors. Deepens them or flattens them. Some days are days of deep color. Some days are grey. I remember.

The scene shifts and I am slightly older. I’m sitting on the inside of the house, looking out the window at the rain. I’m watching it trickle down the window. I’m impressed at how well the window keeps the rain out. It makes me feel more safe. I like the way the water looks, the way the light bounces off of it, as it rolls down the outside of the window. I like the sound of the rain on the window.

The scene shifts and I’m walking out the front door, completely encased in clothes and a coat and gloves and the snow is piled very high. The sun is bright and it is so, completely, white out there. It hurts your eyes to look at it. And I dive into that light and make tunnels in the bright snow. I want to be an Eskimo until I get too cold. I hate being too cold. It upsets my insides.

The scene shifts and I’m laying on my new bunk bed, staring at the slats above my head, holding up my brothers mattress. My brother is sleeping above me. Just before the light was turned off, I slid my glasses onto one of those slats, thinking that it’s great to have that little shelf there just for my glasses. The light is off. I stare at the light coming in from under the door. I listen to the voices outside my room. I can’t make out what they’re saying. I stare at that light until I fall into sleep.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Adventures with Joe - The Bubble Edition

My buddy Joe got tickets for the kids and dads (and grandpa Joe) to see Fan Yang, the amazing bubble man, who puts on his Gazillion Bubble show. And it really was a gazillion. The kids loved it, even thought it was a little hard to see the creations because they are made out of, well, bubbles. Which are, for the most part, transparent. He did add colored lights and smoke and some other things, and it was all pretty amazing.

On the way out, Joe commented on how impressive it was that this guy had managed to make a “thing” out of bubbles. In other words, a show and a lively-hood. Most people trying this kind of thing would end up doing it at birthday parties for little kids, but this guy is the big league of bubbles.

The bubble stuff was very impressive. But what impressed me more is the amount of air this guy had to blow into those bubbles, almost all with his mouth. I would have passed out. Seriously.

If you’re at all curious, you can see him on his website here:

Gazillion Bubbles

© LW Publishing 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don't Get Me Started

I am dealing with some genuine, real anger, and it has to do with my experiences over the past few days with businesses. I have been trying to find out what’s going on with a package that is coming through both UPS and the Post Office. It’s like a double whammy of “Oh no. Please no.” And I have been trying to buy groceries and do the normal things of life. But things have decayed to the point that you almost don’t want to leave the house or ever talk to one of these companies ever again. It is more becoming more true than ever before in human history that people are just numbers.

The only thing worse, these days, than not getting any customer service is actually getting it. Through the use of our wondrous technology, every company in the world is eliminating that dreaded problem of actually having to talk to the actual customers who are actually trying to use their actual products and services. For the customer it’s all actual. For the companies, it’s becoming more and more virtual. They put a virtual human beings voice on an answering machine, and if you don’t tell that virtual voice what it wants to hear, it says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.” And they try to make the voice sound really sorry that it “doesn’t get that.” But the reality is that you either do it their way or you don’t do it all.

I have found that if you scream really loud at the virtual voice, “I want to talk to a real person!!!” then that sometimes trips a menu that they don’t tell you is there and a real person comes on the line. And this is where your problems really begin.

This real person does NOT want to talk to you. They know you were not happy with the virtual voice, they know your problem has some actual complexity to it, and they are now a mediator between you and their virtual, computer based problem solving information systems. Now it’s their job to deal with the virtual voice and they don’t like it. When you tell them what your problem is, they click on the virtual voice on their own little computer. The virtual voice tells them “I didn’t get that,” and so the real person says to you, “Hmmm. Well, that’s not supposed to happen.” So now you’re dealing with both the annoying virtual voice and an employee of some big company who is working hard to get you off the phone without really helping you, but hoping to make you feel better about it somehow than you did with the virtual voice.

And don’t get me started on the grocery stores (too late), where you are expected, more and more, to behave as if you are an employee of the store.  Last night I was at Meijers grocery, and as I was walking to the one and only human operated checkout, the girl turned off her light. When she saw me, two seconds later, she just shrugged her shoulders like, “Oh well.” I said, can’t someone ring these up for me?” I had quite a few groceries. But she just shrugged. Do it their way or you can just leave. You get to ring up your own groceries, solve pricing issues, bag your groceries and do it all with a disinterested employee watching from a distance, treating you like an idiot if you have a problem with their computer system. Pretty soon they’ll have us stocking the shelves and sweeping the floors for them and they’ll still act like they’re doing us a favor. And don’t think for a second that this is just at Meijers. K-Mart, Walmart, restaurants, gas stations, it’s all becoming the same beast.

Whatever. I’ve complained enough. But, seriously, it’s about to put me out of my mind.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dark Water

We slept in the car, on the road between here and that place of loss. To view empty bodies. Broken. I was empty headed and too young for my own good. Talking stupid came easy to me. But he was wise beyond his years. And kind. He took me to the door of death and stood with me while I peeked in. I didn’t like what I saw. I didn’t know how to process it.

I had seen the cost of this over the years, had lived with the cost, endured it, but I was too young to feel the pull of the waves. I was farther down the stream, where you can imagine waterfalls and oceans, instead of the dark flow from hard rock on the side of a moss covered mountain that no one can stop up.

Later, I saw the water rise, flood the hospital room where my grandmother was drowning in her mortality. It didn’t scare me but it disturbed me. It shook my spirit. And I have seen this wash of mortality again and again since. I have held the hand of people, soaking in it, waiting for the waves to take them under.

It makes me wonder how well I will tread this awful, dark water myself. How will I handle it as it fills my lungs. As I’m reaching for that strong hand on the other side to pull me up to safety.

© LW Publishing 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I’ve been trying to not think about God in an abstract way. I mean, very purposefully trying to not think of God in the abstract and, instead, think about God as the very present reality that God is.

I find this hard to do to some degree.

It’s so much easier to think about God as “out there” somewhere, or to think of God as an idea, driven by a set of definitions.

Not that these ways of thinking are totally wrong. God is out there. But God is also here, and it doesn’t matter where here is, he’s there. And God is definable to some degree because God has chosen to reveal some things about himself that are definable. But the fullness of God is more than we could ever imagine, and God’s fullness is present everywhere.

So, what if you considered the presence of God as just that? As just what it is? God is present where you are, right now, and where everyone is, right now, and he’s God. Everything that God is, God is that, right there with you, right now where you are. God is aware. God is present. Not ambivalent. Not unconcerned. Not apart, but present and active, right where you are. Where we are.

Does that change anything for you?

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Things That Happen Too Often

I call someone.

They don’t answer their phone.

They say to leave a message.

I’m leaving a message.

While I’m leaving a message my call waiting beeps.

They are calling me back while I’m leaving them a message.

I flip over to them calling me back and tell them I’m leaving them a message.

They say, “Hmmm.”

Then we talk about what we needed to talk about.

Then we hang up.

Then my phone rings.

It’s the call waiting calling me back from when I was leaving them a message.

I realize what it is and I hang up the phone.

Fifteen minutes later the phone rings.

It’s the number of the person who I called before.

I answer the phone.


They don’t answer, but I can hear them talking, to someone else, because they have accidentally hit the redial button on their phone.

I listen to hear if they are cussing anyone out.

I get bored and hang up.

The end.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011