BOOK REVIEW – Fadeout by Joseph Hansen

This 1970 noir-style detective story titillates with an engrossing story and a queer protagonist.

Joseph Hansen was a famous poet and novelist from the ’50s until his death in 2004. I had never heard of him, which honestly is strange as a gay dude living in tinsel town. He was part of the first Gay Pride Parade in Hollywood and was notable in the community.

Fadeout is the first in a series of 12 books in the Dave Brandstetter mysteries, which now, of course, I’m going to have to buy all of immediately. I loved this book, and I can’t wait to read the rest.

Our protagonist is an insurance detective working for his father’s insurance company. He is a gruff and dutiful mid-40’s who also happens to be unabashedly homosexual. The story opens with a car accident and a missing body. Brandstetter’s company doesn’t want to have to pay the 150k life insurance policy on the man in the car because, well, his body is missing. Did he wash up in the sink somewhere unseen, or is there something more sinister going on? Of course, sinister! Everyone has secrets, and everyone seems to know the missing wannabe writer and mayoral candidate Fox Olsen. Brandstetter uses his skills of people reading and offering cigarettes to get down to the bottom of it.

Throughout the book, we’re given glimpses of Brandstetter’s life, and this is where I read with my mouth open. I’m ecstatic that Hansen could write this, a hard-boiled mystery, with an openly queer protagonist who doesn’t hide who he is. He has the typical drinks and cigs, gay flings, lesbian besties, and a penchant for dark young men. Throughout the story, you can see people around him use words like fag, flit, and queer without Brandstetter batting an eye. He watches them go about their homophobic rants without feeling the need to tell them who he is, even though a few throughout the story peg him pretty quick. He does the job, and the job is what matters. The story runs parallel with troubles in Brandstetter’s own life which gives you a good feeling of who he is.

At times there were too many characters introduced in a short time that I had trouble keeping track of who was who and how they were all related. However, it was still a fun mystery to unravel.

Rating: 4.5/5

NFTs: The Weight of Intangibility

Alright, I’ve joined the bandwagon.

Or, at least, to say, I have taken the first steps to join the bandwagon. The wagon is empty. Or, not empty – you can see it filled to the brim from a distance, like a mirage. The closer you get to the wagon, the more you realize you can’t actually touch any of the stuff in that wagon. That wagon is filled with NFTs.

The NFT Bandwagon


Non-fungible tokens. You can google them for a week and barely wrap your head around what that means. It can be anything – a piece of music, a painting, or even a tweet or meme. It is sold or traded like a cryptocurrency. Unlike cryptocurrency, not all NFTs are created equal. You have probably seen NFTs’ as extensive collections of 8-bit or low-res characters that have thousands of different iterations. A single key or group of keys, made in photoshop or something similar, and mod-ed with varying numbers of teeth, tops, chains, jewels, etc. I saw one of these low-res keys going for $14; on the same page, I saw one of these keys from the same collection going for $95 million. Yes, that’s with 6 zeros.

It’s all so…well, intangible. But there is something there. Something that, once the hype dies down and the beanie-baby-style collecting of 8-bit characters disappears, could be very tangible – especially for artists. I’ve been learning for a few weeks now. I still have no idea what I’m doing, but I am trying to dip my toe into the deep ethereal waters of Ethereum; the blocks of data that are Bitcoin; the flooded market of adobe pixels with little artistic value. Through all of that, I can see a little of something in there for the rest of us.


For writing, I can see a market where I publish a book in the NFT space. I have a run of 1,000 copies that sell. I have another run with unique features like a blu ray – versions of the book with extra chapters, maps of my worlds, and languages created during my artism. Character profiles, wiki links, and mythology deep dives. It’s a place for people like me – completionists. It would be really cool to have a place where you give people unique gifts if they figure out some particular puzzle hidden in an NFT. A world where the deeper you dive into a fantasy land, the more prizes and information you can learn about the world you wrap yourself in. That sounds like a fun place. And yes, a lucrative niche for artists.

Of course, I am naïve when it comes to new things. I don’t immediately think of ways to get one over on the population and how to skim the system. Sometimes I wish I was more cutthroat in that way, but I’m just not. I don’t know how evil the crypto and NFT space could be for people, but I would be willing to bet there could be a niche in there for real markets.

Concept cryptographic nft on a hundred-dollar bill franklin in glasses.


One of the most exciting parts of the NFT space is that it exists on the blockchain, public and decentralized. The idea is that when a photographer does a photo shoot, everyone attached to that photo will get a percentage of the profits every time that NFT is sold. If it becomes worth more money, that percentage stays the same for everyone. The makeup artist, hairstylist, wardrobe, photographer, and model can all be attached to that publicly every time it’s sold. When you buy a book at a bookstore (I know, I’m a romantic) and then you give it to a second-hand shop, and it’s sold for half price, in the NFT world, the author would still make a bit of that second sale in the NFT marketplace.

Now, of course, in any market, nothing is stopping that person from gifting that book to someone else or taking screenshots and sending it up as a torrent, but that’s never going to change. The majority of people don’t want to go through the steps to commit thievery online. Most will buy their books on Amazon (and everything else, for that matter). Using an NFT space gives the artists more control of how much money they make on each sale than Amazon.


Photo by Daniel Páscoa on Unsplash

Regarding the digital Amazon Marketplace, let’s talk about the volatility of buying things online. None of us can see Amazon disappearing overnight. We put a metric boat-load of faith in Amazon for what we buy. Whether it’s MP3s, MP4s, JPGs, or others – when we buy something digital on Amazon, it generally exists in one place…Amazon. What happens if that movie you bought on Prime was not there tomorrow? Somehow, if Amazon goes under or disappears, your digital assets are gone. Poof. The same problem exists for NFTs…kind of.

The silly thing about NFTs now is that the main selling point being worth money isn’t even the artwork they are attached to. It’s all about that blockchain proof that you own it. No one can argue with the fact that you own an NFT when you buy it on the blockchain. Unless you sell it or trade it, it’s yours. Now, what happens if that site you purchased the NFT from disappears overnight? Not much, it seems. Suppose that token gets corrupted or is no longer accessible through its originating server. In that case, the owner can always make a new token and say that the original is corrupt. But then, is it worth the crypto it was digitized on? The bragging rights around NFTs are that proof. People can still use the artwork all over the internet and not get sued, but only that one person truly owns that digitized piece. At the moment, that means very little, but it could mean more in the future. This is what makes collecting NFTs a possible positive investment.

Iffy news, but again, with the possibility of being good in the future. Buy a band’s new album as an NFT. You can download it physically (usually in more than one format or way) and keep it how you want, instead of it only being accessible on the site (like Amazon or Spotify) and trusting that they stick around forever. This is the thing I like about the possible future for the NFT marketplace.


It means to keep your ears open. This market isn’t new, and even though people say it’s just a fad that will quickly fade, it has been around for almost a decade and only continues to gain more traction. The news surrounding it is not great – with the carbon footprint and energy required to crunch the numbers that make the blockchain exist. With any new thing, it will change and mutate. I don’t want to be one of those old men shaking my head and refusing to use crypto when somehow it becomes the only way to buy stuff. I want to get ahead of it and learn a little about what could make this marketplace the future.

Tell me your thoughts in the comments! Have you had any experience in the NFT marketplace? What are your experiences?

Hobby Goals

Hobbies – those things you enjoy doing with a bit of time to yourself. Parents may never find time, and single folk may keep themselves busy with dating or social activities. Many people see having hobbies as something you do when you don’t have friends or you live that cat lady life, but hobbies are something everyone should have in their lives. They are also healthy activities that could eventually make you some passive income!

Calligraphy practice sheet.

Most people use hobbies to relieve stress for those constantly on the go, weighted with responsibilities and working their lives away. They are also a source of good stress (or eustress1) for those who don’t have enough to do – those without children, a demanding job, or other ways to pass the time. Some hobbies can relieve anger, make you more mindful, and some serve as an emotional outlet for depression or loneliness.

Hobby Producers

Why not use some of these hobbies as a way to make a little cash on the side? Hobbies that give you a “product” at the end can bring you stock for an Etsy store, wholesale to a retailer, or even a future full-time job. Now, of course, some already use their passions, art, and past hobbies as their career (this isn’t for you, you are already doing it!). But for those of us that haven’t spent every waking moment creating our own business from the ground up, those that have a different career or found themselves on a different path, this could be for you!

It’s playing the long game, with even short-term goals stretched for as long as it takes you. You don’t need to spend hours a day making something to eventually sell. If you are a creator and knit, crochet, paint, write, rock tumble, antique, build, weld, carve or, wrap – you are coming out at the end of your project with not only the accomplishment of finishing something, but you end up with a product you can slowly build! If you are a collector of thimbles, antiques, coins, stamps, comics, or anything you can stick in boxes and take care of, hell, we all know we are hoping to collect that thing that will put your kids through college or build your own private 401k. Don’t just create and give it away to friends or throw it in a Goodwill box; build your store!

Hoarding or Collecting?

When do you start selling? When your collection needs purging! If your living room, art room, or garage can no longer hold the product that you make, that’s the time. This is where the type of hobby you choose to spend your time on can help or hinder you. If you make coffee tables or build Burning Man floats in your spare time, you may have a bit of a space issue. In these cases, the word bespoke is the place for you. Take an order ahead of time from friends of friends with the idea that you will finish it when you finish it. They’ll take it, or they won’t – you’ll be making something either way. Having limited space to hoard your product isn’t a problem for passive income, as you’ll only need to rent out a storage unit if you lean into your hobby and start making real money.

You don’t need to worry about creating quickly to keep up with sales. Remember, this isn’t your career; this is passive income. You work at your own pace with no worries about making a specific number. This is something you are doing anyway, in your own time. However, you also want to make sure you know the difference between holding on to a product you can sell and hoarding crap no one will ever want to buy.

Cash or Cap?

How do you know if what you are making is saleable? Friends and research! Hopefully, you have mouthy friends like I do, who have no issues telling you if what you bring to the table is bank or bust. Leaning on family can always be hit or miss if you have the kind of family that thinks everything you do or make is pure gold. Mom and Dad goggles are strong – they are great for support if you have that, but not great on objectivity. Do research online, looking up the kinds of products you make with other people doing the same. Redbubble, for instance, has millions of items from artists that sell screen print clothing, pins, wall art, home décor, etc. Browse the many creator sites and see the quality of work, price, and sale-ability of your own art.

Many of the most popular hobbies only make money in the wholesale or “bucket” sale areas (like the tumbled crystals below). Still, these can end up making you quite a bit of money and generally don’t take up too much in the way of space.

Quartz and Chert rock tumble

Keeping it together

I may have one or two too many hobbies myself. Still, I am always trying to incorporate them into my daily life in a way that doesn’t take too much time (we can’t spend our entire life engrossed in hobbies, I suppose) and also trying to find a way to eventually make passive income out of some of them. For this, I try to organize my hobbies with a schedule. I divide them by pure introvert entertainment (reading, movies, Netflix, puzzles) and ones with potential future passive income (rock tumbling, photography, writing, calligraphy). I add social media as a large part of this as well (as much as I genuinely dislike the grind of social media, it is a tool we all need in our back pocket at this point).

Utilize the strengths you already possess for creation by taking something you love and turning it into a joy that works for you further than a well-deserved mental health break or completely disassociate for an hour or two. I won’t detail listing hobbies you could be doing that create product as there are hundreds of list-o-manias for that, but I will post below my goal list for a few of mine!

Short Term Goal List (I use Evernote for organizing thoughts.)

Setting The Bar (And Pace)

You can see that these goals are small and generic – that’s the point. Nothing too stressful or hurried. They are things you can take in stride, and if life gets too busy to work on them, it’s not the end of the world. They will be there when you get back. The point is that you can always be working towards a goal, even if you don’t feel like you have anything much to look forward to or that your work isn’t worth the fabric it’s printed on. Chances are, someone is willing to chuck a schilling at you for a cute sticker. Whether you do it for a break or to keep your mind busy, the process gives you something to show at the end to anyone who might be interested in dolling out some dough for your doilies!

The Hobby Foyer

I would love to do more hobby chatting with you! Highlighting hobbies, talking tools, and hearing your stories. Chat in the comments: What is your hobby and what does it bring to your life?

1Read more about hobbies and mental health in this article from

Blinkist – Non-fiction game changer?

As a full practitioner in escapism, I admit I’m not much of a non-fiction reader. I enjoy learning about history, religion, and the effect the two combined have had on the human condition – that is limitlessly interesting to me. But as far as self-help, biographies, the endless topics of government and war stories go…not so much.

Then I discovered Blinkist.

This phone app gives you access to thousands of non-fiction titles in small, 10-30 minute bite-size pieces. Spark notes for the modern age. You can read the text, which is separated into blinks. Blinks are separated chapters or topics that split up the ideas and the themes of the book. You can download them for local access on your phone. There are also podcasts and full audiobooks available.

I signed up for the trial, and as the majority of my trials go, it turned into a year subscription because I forgot to cancel it. The funny thing is, I started to listen to them. I don’t listen to podcasts or audiobooks. I like to read. I have a hard time listening to people talk at me. But the Blinkist app did help me. I “read” 6 non-fiction books yesterday. I have to think, is this beneficial at all? Can you get the knowledge of a book in a 15-minute jumble? Well, no, but for someone like me, who would never have read these titles otherwise, it’s a heck of a way to ingest basic ideas and topics in the non-fiction genre. One of the books I also ordered, as I liked the themes and ideas that the app gave me that I wanted to delve deeper into the topic.

I’d like to hear your ideas on this. Have you tried Blinkist, or is it something you would use?

Movie Review: “TENET” (2020)

TENET” (2020) dir. Christopher Nolan

Starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki 

This review will either fascinate you or bore you to death. Read to the end to find out which! 





Those who know me know that I am an enigmatology enthusiast. That is, the study of puzzles. I could write an entire review on the use of the word “TENET” for the movie title alone, as the word itself comes with deep meaning in history and in puzzle craft…and I might! Christopher Nolan is of puzzle-mind, has been from his first features, and has carried that love with him through every one of his films. I like Nolan’s work a lot because it tickles me in my enigmatism (word coined here). 

Nolan uses the famed Sator Square as inspiration for names used throughout the film. Judging the content of the film, I am also guessing he used the Sator Square as a blueprint for the entire plot of the film. A brief explanation of the Sator Square can help with the theme of the movie, even if you don’t want (and don’t need) to understand the intricate logistics of this film’s version of time travel. The Sator Square is a five-word Latin palindrome, meaning the same backward and forwards. The five words are: SATOR (the name of our main villain), AREPO (the name of an enigmatic art forger), TENET (a password for access to people who know about the inverted objects, and possible name of a secret organization), OPERA (the opening extraction scene by the CIA), and ROTAS (the name of the security company at the Oslo Freeport). The earliest example of the Sator Square comes from the ruins of Pompeii (a location mentioned in the film, and partly taking place nearby in the Amalfi Coast) but has also been unearthed in Rome, England, and Syria to name a few. This square will read the same top-bottom, bottom-top, L-R, R-L. It can also be rotated 180 degrees and still be read in those same ways. The Square’s symmetry group is the Klein four-group, which is a group with four elements, in which each element is self-inverse, meaning that the function is its own inverse. One of the photos I’m adding is of the Sator Square so you can see for yourself and see what I mean, why I said it, and how it relates to the film. 

In the movie, the “Protagonist” (John David Washington) is a CIA agent that gets caught and tortured during an extraction operation at an opera house. Instead of giving up information to the enemy, he takes a cyanide pill. He doesn’t die, and instead wakes on a boat and discovers he has passed a ‘test’ by taking the pill instead and is now recruited by a secret organization called Tenet. We are pushed through the opening scenes and storyline too quickly in the first ten minutes. It seemed like a race to get to the fun action stuff. I wish they spent a little more time here in the beginning while giving us all this exposition, as understanding what the hell is going to be happening for the next 120 minutes leans greatly on the idea that the watcher can grasp as least a little bit what they are about to be seeing. As we all know, Nolan loves to have loud music, loud sound effects, and almost muted voices amongst all of it. The first twenty minutes are no different for him. I think he must have gotten made fun of so much for it by now that he just does it to fuck with us. Hats off for not giving up but his movies now forever will require subtitles so you can hear the very important lines that are being said, even though he clearly doesn’t want you to hear them. So, the first ten minutes are like listening to Bane if he was a scientist trying to explain string theory to a deaf guy. 

What we and the Protagonist discover is that there are objects in the world that have inverted entropy and move backward through time! Cool idea, impossible to truly understand as a casual watcher. If you are a casual watcher, don’t think too hard about all the action and reverse time travel. It’s not worth the headache. Just know that some things move backward in time. To us, the people moving forward through time, it will look like these objects are moving backward, when in fact, they are moving forwards into the past with inverse energy. To them, it looks like we are all moving backward. This creates some very fun things visually in the film.

This idea and the visuals he uses to represent it are where Christopher Nolan truly shines as a filmmaker. This story could not be told in any other medium except cinema. It is an idea that can only be carried through by showing the viewer in moving visuals and sound. He is telling a truly individual and original story made to be told through the art of filmmaking. It’s beautiful and loud and visually stunning. The sequences of backward motion vs. forward motion are shown in an interesting way and a way that is purely Nolan. It will remind you a lot of “Inception”, especially the hallway fight scene. It’s clear he meant to do this, as the rest of the film’s color, cinematography, and sound mimic many of the ideas from that movie. A spiritual universe cousin, maybe. 

We find out that people or a group of people in the future have created machines that can make this inverse matter, or matter with inverted entropy, and send it back to the past, presumably with the idea to change things. We learn that they messed up somewhere along the way. The future is somehow dim and without more future. Why they decide to come back to the past to “murder the world” is never really made clear, but also, we don’t really care, do we? Bad people doing bad shit for reasons no one will ever know. It’s not that pertinent to the story being told. Just know that they are trying to go back in time and kill their own grandfathers. The big problem is that if too much inverse matter ends up in the past (where we live) and the inverse matter being sent back ends up having more mass in the world than the straightforward matter we have all come to know and love, the world dies. Poof. Boom. Whimper? We’re not sure how, but clearly no good.

When something enters these machines, they come out the other side as inverse. This means people, too, so when our Protagonist comes out the other side, he needs to learn backward gravity, inverse motion, and opposite thermodynamics. Ha can’t inhale the air because the air refuses to bond to the sacs in your lungs that are breathing backward compared to the rest of the world. The idea of traveling back in time has an interesting idea (and makes the most sense when it comes to logical time travel. That idea is that if you want to travel back in time, you move backward at the same speed as moving forward. So, if you want to go back a day, it takes a day to go back. If you want to go back ten days, it takes ten moving backward. Once you go through the inverse matter machine, your clock starts, and you move backward as long as you are out on that other side. You must go back to that machine or another machine in the world to get turned back forward, or you will continue going back forever. And you can’t breathe the air…sooo, that’s gonna be a problem. 

Some parts of it are really well thought out and other parts are glossed over…and that’s fine. Our brains are still trying to figure out if he picked up the bullet or the bullet jumped into his hand…If he never put his hand over the bullet would it have ever known that it was once dropped out of his hand to know that it could jump back into his hand at the right time? Yeah…that shit. Don’t sit with the specifics too long. Just enjoy the ride there. 

And that’s the plot! There’s some stuff in there with a girl and a bad guy that is helping bring the matter from the future to the past. He has a generic bad guy quality about him and a convenient bout of suicide fancy, so he wants to die and take the whole world with him (including his wife and son). Take out the inverse matter and time travel, and it seems like a straightforward Bond film. It’s got the hot girl that changes sides, the spy protagonist who fights better than he dresses and knows how to get what he wants. It’s fun. The action sequences are astounding and look practical instead of CGI messes. I thought the overall production quality of the locations was not that exciting. The buildings didn’t stand out, the rooms weren’t dressed very well. He didn’t use much in the way of thematic color palettes or bold choices when it came to fabrics or walls. It probably would have been too distracting or blurry with how fast the movie ran through each spot. 

Okay, back to the square now that you know the themes and mechanics of time travel. My favorite part of the movie. He took the idea of the Sator Square, a palindrome of names that goes forward, backward, 180, and inverse. He took that idea of words and turned it into a 3-D world. What happens if you take TIME and make it into a Sator Square palindrome. At the end of the film you see a very cool war scene with two teams, a red team, and a blue time, like laser tag. This felt so much like a little boy getting to make a laser tag war movie it made me giggle, but off-topic. The two teams split up and do what they call a “temporal pincer movement”, where non-inverted red team troops and inverted blue team troops make a simultaneous attack. This is mind-boggling, as the inverted team is doing everything backward. That means the red team is going into the war dodging bullets and running away from falling buildings from the aftermath of what the inverted blue team has already done. Walls are unexploding and trapping people behind the walls, buildings are un-collapsing just to be shot and blown up at a different place by the red team. It’s all very cool, but also is a great way to show the idea of the Sator Square if it existed in time at coinciding moments. What would happen if you could read every angle of the Sator Square in 3-D space at the same time, be able to see every side of a cube at one single moment in time…what does that do to time, or to us the knower? The idea of the Sator Square made physical in 3-D space is a puzzler’s dream and nightmare. 

The names he attached to each character/place that form the square have solid meaning behind them. Attached to each word is what it was in the movie and what its meaning is from the Latin. 

SATOR (antagonist) – Sower/Seeder – The man who found the first inverse matter and worked with the future to plant it all over the world. The beginning of the end. 

AREPO (the unknown and unseen art fake) – A hapax legomenon. In Latin, a word that only exists once in a text or by a creator. We never meet this character. He is only heard about in passing and never again. 

TENET (code word and secret organization) – Possess, Masters – The people who are trying to protect the code from being used to end the world. By the end of the movie, the people in TENET are the ones guarding the code that will end the world. 

OPERA (opening scene and the scene of the Protagonist’s “awakening” – Care, Aid, Service – The opening scene that awakens the Protagonist to this secret danger that lurks in the world. By aiding his own country and taking the pill, he shows his service to the cause. 

ROTAS (security group protecting the machine) – turn, rotate – This is the place where we discover the first turnstile, the machine that takes matter and turns it inverse. 

Did I like it? Yes and no. The little idea of one single square of words made into such a rich tale has me floored. His execution seemed rushed at parts, and like he passed over some aspects to lean in on others. This is not surprising when you are making a studio action film during a pandemic. 

One of my first favorite movies was “Memento”. I obsessed over it. I loved it. The way he created a story and told it backward in such a beautiful way was awe-inspiring to me. He continues, to this day, to create things that are not seen in cinema. I don’t love all of his movies, but I enjoy every single one. Even if so much of it is trite and boring and sometimes a little overwhelming, Nolan proves to us that he loves filmmaking, and knows how to tell a story using that medium in an effortless combination of artistry and action.   

Quick-shot Movie Review: Full Metal Jacket (1987)

“Full Metal Jacket” – (1987) – dir. Stanley Kubrick – starring Matthew Modine, Vincent D’Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey 

This is one of those aforementioned movies that I am mildly embarrassed to have never seen. I am not a big war film buff, but there a few I know I need to see. This being one of them. Kubrick is with a doubt one of the best directors in cinema, but he still only hits with me half the time. His direction is never under question, but the movies themselves are sometimes not my cup of tea.

This was one of them, but it was still an amazing ride.

The first half, a look into the horrors of boot camp, mind games, conditioning, and the government using human’s need for pride to turn them into killing machines is hard to watch. Young men that will gladly rip out their own guts and eat them for their country and ask for seconds, was wrenching, to say the least.

R. Lee Ermey as Sergeant Harman is astounding. I am amazed he didn’t have a coronary on set by playing that part. It looked hard but effortless for him. He was the embodiment of that awful human being. Even better still than Ermey’s portrayal was D’Onofrio’s Private Pyle. What a character. Vincent D’Onofrio has never been in a film that he does not steal the show in, and this is the one that assuredly made his career. Hartman’s treatment of Private Pyle is inhuman. The evil vomit that spews from the Gunnery Sergeant’s mouth is an act of violence. Racist, bigoted, horrible emotional violence. It works. If anything can wear a human’s soul to dust, it is weeks of physical and emotional abuse from the country you stand tall to defend.

The second half of the film, the wartime part, lost me a little. The sets were gorgeous, the action well-choreographed, the emotional scenes are done well. And maybe it’s because so many of these lines are so ingrained in society (or at least film buff society) but they feel trite by now. I may have just waited too long. The multiple scenes with the prostitutes didn’t bring anything emotionally to the film, and these scenes are actually the most dialogue in the second half of the movie. I really enjoyed watching Joker and his photographer Rafterman moving through the Vietnam war covering what was happening for the news, but I wish we had gotten more reporting of what was happening. It made sense that a lot of the war was men hanging out and hiding behind burned buildings and making sexual innuendo to each other, I mean, who wouldn’t. It almost seemed like a given, and they didn’t stick to any one conversation enough to make it feel real. I wish they had stuck with one or two locations or kept moving throughout the whole of the landscape.

I loved Kubrick’s choice to use sweeping and steady shots back and forth of the camera to show the actors working in the environment, instead of that war movie editing you get with quick cuts and jerky motion. We didn’t need that jarring effect here. He was lingering, leaving you to see the wonderful choreography and specific marks to make clean lines, depth of field, and show the beautiful production design. I bet these action sequences took forever to film, knowing anything about Kubrick’s predilection for perfection.

The plot and theme don’t need a whole lot of diving here. There’s not much to it, but it’s all you need. It’s a slice of life story, not a grand sweeping epic of wartime like “Doctor Zhivago” and not of one singular moment or turning point like “Dunkirk”. It’s a movie quite literally in two halves. It’s well done and slick.

The two standout scenes for me are the final scene with D’Onofrio’s Private Pyle and the sniper scene at the end of the film. These two scenes will stick with me because of what they represent, and they are represented by only a “look” given by the two actors in each scene. The first, Pyle’s final face of complete madness after being pushed to the brink during basic training. They accomplished what they wanted, they created a killer, but not the kind they were aiming for. They created a monster, one that couldn’t be stopped. The second scene with Modine’s Joker after he stops the Vietnamese sniper in the building. Earlier in the film, they talk of him not getting to see any action because he doesn’t have “the stare”. That thousand-mile stare that so many vets came home with after seeing too much action. Throughout the film, Joker seemed fine with that. He didn’t want that killer instinct, didn’t need to feel like he would kill for country. In the end, it’s the exact look he received anyway. No one gets out unscathed.

Quick-shot Movie Review: “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” (2014)

This is a great first feature for director Ana Lily Amirpour. It has all the elements you want from a director straight out of art school. Haunting, beautiful, random, thoughful.

Unfortunately I have already seen “The Bad Batch”, this director’s second feature, which is in my hot list of top 20 worst movies I have ever seen…but maybe that’s better. It would have been so disappointing to see this great first feature and be excited for what great thing was going to come next.

The rule of thirds sits at the head of the table in this movie, and it gives me a photography erection the whole time.

I love the black and white choice for this one. It fits the mood and sits on the actors’ faces wonderfully. Not afraid to use grays, but keeps the black black. White is never blown out and never directs the eye far from the meat.

The opening sequence is my favorite part of the film, but sadly the feeling of the opening sequence also doesn’t quite make it all the way through the rest of the movie. That first shot of hot Iranian James Dean picking up a kitty kat on the streets of some oil rig town with French style Cafe music and a few Dutch angles to show you that you’re in a skewed world. Loved it.

The idea for the setting was great. Some fake iranian city called “Bad City”, where even with only a hand full of actors in the whole runtime, gives you a feeling that this town is their Gotham. Run rampant with crime, death, and debauchery.
It feels like it could have been filmed in the late 70s, especially with the fun nod to the music and style of a spaghetti western.

The Girl, played by Sheila Vand, was excellent. She had a soft look and an empty stare that felt innocent and mysterious. The idea of her stalking through the city in a chador cape riding a skateboard is an image that will stick with me in a great way. I love that she took something that signifies woman oppression, wore it as a symbol of strength, and rode around on what would generally be seen as a 14 year old boy’s transportation, to kill bad people, particularly men, with her vampiric prowess.

I would say the drug dealer was so cliché, but I have absolutely met many a drug dealer exactly like him. It’s a feeling, an ego that they feel they must have that comes with the need of having peoples lives in their hands, the lower they are on the food chain the more pompous. Makes for a great first kill, everyone wants this guy dead.

I had no idea where it was gonna take the vampire aspect. Giant fangs, shark mouth, subtle sexy suck? It was an adequate reveal, although the driveling drug dealer instead of an angry one seemed a touch too simple (and less rewarding)

The scene with the street rat boy stands out as excellent because of the horror elements without the need for death or blood.

I wish we had gotten a little more in the way of dialogue, even if it was trite philosophical mumbo jumbo about the meaning of nothing. The style over substance issue could have been fixed with a few well placed short conversations.
The last act lost the wonder of this weird spaghetti western, James Dean bad boy, foreign horror concept and decided to drone into dramatic love territory, without any love or expression of love. I do like that it kept everything muted and quiet, and didn’t give up and go for a punch in the gut near the end, but it seemed like it lost its voice a little as it went. Maybe a shave of 10-15 minutes?

There were some great transitions, one that stuck out was a zoom focus from tree branches to the industrial cityscape.

I didn’t realize until the credits that this was an American film, filmed in Bakersfield, CA…I know that shouldn’t matter…but it kind of does. While I was watching this I was thinking of how empowering this is and how hard this must have been to make in Iran. I was shaking my fist at the man with them. Learning this diminished that a bit. It’s still amazing for being a first time PoC woman director making a black and white horror with an all Iranian cast and language..that’s insane and awesome…but also, took the gusto out of it a bit finding out it wasn’t actually a foreign made film.

I enjoyed this one. It was slow and moody and very well directed. Minus a few dragging pieces here and there, I’d say this is one of the cooler vampire movies I’ve seen since “Let The Right One In”. Definitely recommend.

Recent Events Of August 1st-18th

What a lovely shining light during a dark time. URU, a long-gone live-ish game in the MYST universe, has chatter. A promise of new content. Things are changing. Lights are being flicked on and dusty hallways are being wiped down for the possibility of new exploration. For those of you that know about URU, come and join. For those that have no idea what I’m talking about…that’s okay. It is a passion of mine to have been involved in the MYST universe for 26 years. It is my Star Trek. It started with the discovery of MYST when I was only ten years old. I was hooked. Then came the novels, what a read! I logged in to AOL on my Windows 3.1 computer and found MYSTforumUSA, a chat room dedicated to the love of MYST. Riven and 4 more games came after that over the years. Uru was too far ahead of its time—a completely immersive, live, playing out of character arcs, discoveries, deaths, and gameplay. It was amazing. That spark dissipated for good around 2007 with the lack of paying subscriptions and the laying off of Cyan Inc. employees. After that, the game stayed alive only through the hearts of fans that continued to pop into the deserted virtual landscape of URU. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in there for over a decade. Now, the rooms are filling up again. Characters are coming in and out that play out a realistic dialogue that includes its players and has them help shape the future of the game. This reblog is by someone in the community who takes great care and time to stay on top of the unfolding drama. Even if you don’t play, click on over to Calum’s blog and watch a live story begin to unfold in a tech-ancient but gameplay-futuristic landscape. It is truly something to see.

Traveler's Cavern Log


I never thought this day would come. Greetings, all, I am Calum Traveler, and today I’m writing this post to express to you all something new that’s happening within our homely Cavern of D’ni.

New Ages have been announced to be unveiled on Friday, August 21st, at 1300 KI Time.

The following post is a recap of major announcements earlier in the month as well as today, the day I’m posting this new blog at something of a rather rapid fire pace. Please forgive the dust as I work on trying to make this place look okay.

Earlier this month at the August All Guilds Meeting, Patrick Dulebohn appeared and gave an announcement.You can read the established chat log here. Following this announcement came Mysterium, during which no announcement was made regarding the status of the Cavern.

Earlier today, 8/18/2020, barriers were finally observed as being…

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The Whistling Pandemic

I know the wind is one of the least enjoyed weather rumblings from our vocal planet, but I love the feeling of wind on my face. The wind is the breath of the universe. It’s especially pleasing when it surprises you with a quick change of direction, ever so slightly. You aren’t ready for it, your head wasn’t tilted the right way, and you get a nose full of air that makes you gasp. If fills you up, it tricks you, and for a brief moment, it feels like it has your life in its hands. Something invisible that you can feel. Specifically, I love the sound of wind through pine trees. It’s a constant hum that vibrates at the exact frequency of my genetic happiness. You can hear the world tell you its secrets as long as you are willing to listen.

But in these last months, the whispering nothings of our Mother Earth have taken a turn on my joyful respite with the encroachment of Covid-19. Like everyone else, I sit in a cocoon of unknowing and doomscrolling into the wee hours of the morning, wondering and worrying about the future of our country, of our families, and of our way of life.

When I do manage to make it out of my anxiety burrito, I always try for a satisfying walk. Living in a Los Angeles neighborhood surrounded by colorful flowers and hillsides overgrown with beautiful greenery, I love taking a leisurely walk in the hills to calm my nerves. Like many other places in the country right now, we have a solid 50/50 on who wears a mask and who doesn’t. I am a Type 1 diabetic, and I have been taking this quarantine very seriously. Too seriously, if you were to ask many of the people around me, I think.

I see the virus everywhere. Every article I see tells me that diabetics are dying in droves at all ages. The news is awash with entire families being scraped down to a few young sons and daughters. After the first month of building an end-of-the-world bunker, filling it with 32oz cans of dolmas and beans of every variety, I was starting to come down. The initial fear-based decisions were beginning to give way to rational thoughts on how to continue living at home. I needed out. I needed a walk.

I had my mask, a bottle of sanitizer for every pocket in my jeans, and a bag of gloves (in case for some reason I needed to help someone change a tire or help an elderly lady bring groceries in). The stress of getting my feet to leave the property made me feel tired from the get-go. My shoes were heavy, my face felt exposed, but eventually, I started to enjoy myself. My headphones were booming something as indistinct as a b-rate science fiction television show and I was on my way. I didn’t run into any people on the street for the first half of the walk.

Feeling happy that I had made it to the top of the hill, I looked at my surroundings to make sure no one was around and popped my mask off to enjoy the fresh air. The light breeze had been tugging at the corners of my face covering. That wind! So nice, so calming…until I turned the corner. A young man jogging up the hill came whipping around the bend, sans mask, and huffed and puffed himself right by me. Suddenly, I felt suffocated. All I could see was particles. Little dots of hot breath touching down on my shirt, in my beard hairs, and attacking me in a cloud of wet lung globs.

I kept walking while trying to talk myself down from the panic attack that was quickening my heartbeat and pooling sweat on the inside of my hat. It was too late. After that, I began to see people coming out of their homes and beginning their evening walks. They came at me like unmasked zombies in leggings. I zig-zagged across the street and made wide turns at every corner to avoid the hordes of infected laughing families with children screaming in my general direction. The wind changed. It now carried COVID-19. Somehow my life had turned into “The Happening”. How in the world did the worst movie I had ever seen, about the wind carrying a deadly neurotoxin plants develop themselves to kill off the human race, become a real-life feeling?

The wind was no longer my friend. That exhilarating feeling of having my breath momentarily stolen from me was now a nightmare and a very real threat. Now my life did appear to be in its hands. Even when someone was down the street fifty feet or more, I checked the wind direction by looking at the leaves, deciding when I should cross the street or go the other way to avoid the virus that rides the waves of the earth’s breath. Something I loved so much had taken a quick turn against me. Its whistling was the tune of the reaper, and it was being sung for me.
Fear and anxiety are a bitch.

It took me another few months before I was able to enjoy a neighborhood walk again. But, even as the COVID-19 numbers rise, I find myself more able to live in this new pandemic world that we are currently forced in to. Luckily, its people that we need to avoid and not nature. It doesn’t help living in one of the largest cities in the country, but I can now sit at my window and watch the palm trees sway to the currents of the air. I can make a trip to a less worn patch of the world and stand in the center of hundred-foot high pines and listen to the beautiful flow around my head. Its whistle is once again just the hypnotic lull of the universe. Its tune had changed to whisper warnings of our current situation, but once again has resumed its happy song.