The Thrilla in San Francisca

So I boxed Friday night. It was the first time I had done so. I’ve wrestled and fought MMA, but never stood toe-to-toe and been taught lessons in the sweet science. And on Friday I learned a few. It was the culmination of a six week “boxing boot camp” where I had been on a crash course training regimen of working out every single morning at 6:00. The idea was to end the bootcamp with a fight night wherein the participants would form pugilistic pairs and perform in bouts before our friends and family. Unfortunately I was in a higher weight class than all the other boot campers and so the trainers brought in a ringer. I knew nothing about the guy going in. I didn’t know his age, weight, height, skill level or anything else. I didn’t even know who he was until it was time to step into the ring. Things went fairly well. I took some thumps, and gave him more than a few. I did get horrifically tired and by the end of the third round, it was all I could do to tiredly grab into a clinch. All the bouts were exhibition matches, and so no winner was declared although I think my opponent clearly had the better of me if it went to the judges. After it was all over we had a manly hug, and he filled me in on a fun little fact:

“I’m a professional.” he said.

So unless he moonlights as a trick hoe, this could mean only one thing. I fought a professional boxer and lived to tell the tale. Not bad for a guy with the reach of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. He must have taken it a little easy on me, but I think I acquitted myself well. But I think that will be the last time I box. Better to stick to what I’m good at

This is Why I love IMDB

From the listing of one of the greatest films of all time that has changed my life in more ways than I can count:

  • Continuity: When Kurt gets drunk at the bar with Xien and starts fighting, one of the men breaks a glass bottle in half over the counter and is holding the half bottle. The camera shows Kurt, then goes back to the man and he doesn’t have the half bottle in his hand. Then he gets a roundhouse kick to the face.
  • Memorable Quotes:

Tong Po: [after beating Kurt senseless in a round of kickboxing] You bleed like Mylee! Mylee… good fuck!
Kurt Sloane: Nooo!

Thunder Dome

If you’re in the Bay Area, and would like to see man who specializes in grappling and kicking try to fight without doing either one:

Who’s that handsome fella there at the bottom? He looks like a bad ass. Seriously though, this is my first attempt at flat-out boxing and it should be entertaining. I’m not a very good boxer. I have short arms and while my punching mechanics are good, I tire easily so I’m likely to take at least a medium-size beating. Come along, won’t you?

Oscar-mania

I have this, and only this, to say about last night’s awards: Children of Men was robbed. If nothing else, the category of best cinematography was made to recognize movies like this. I think either the claustrophobic, one-take car chase scene or the unflinching urban warfare scene would be more than enough to lock this category, much less both scenes in the same film. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but love for Pan’s Labrynth and I’m glad it came through as well as it did, but Children of Men rewrote the book on how cinematography can put you inside the story.

Just For the Record

<rant>

I do not care about Anna Nicole. I did not care about her when she was in movies. I did not care about her when she had her own reality show. I did not care when she got married, or went to court about the dead billionaire’s billions. I did not care when her son died. I certainly did not care when she died, and I think you can guess whether or not I care about this paternity froo-fra.

Apparently CNN, MSNBC, and the last bastion of decency that is FoxNews disagree and think I should care very much about Anna Nicole. That is the reason why they have been giving round-the-clock coverage of this nonsense. I know there isn’t 24 hours worth of real news every day, but is it really serving the public good to give constant live coverage of the paternity trial of a dead stripper while we are:

1. Enmeshed in a problematic occupation (with Iraq)

2. Almost starting a second war (with Iran)

3. Brokering a nuclear disarmament deal (with North Korea)

4. Exchanging harsh words (with Russia)

5. In the early stages of a presidential election (at home)

6. In the middle of a divided government

7. Deciding the future of how we legislate information monopolies (Sirius/XM)

8. Etc. Etc. Etc.

</rant>

Dork Dispatch: Ghost Rider

Somewhere deep inside me lurks the soul of a full on Comic Book Guy. I like comic books, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve been reading them for most of my life, and I’ve accumulated a fair amount of comics knowledge, though I try to keep from foisting it upon the uninterested. I have varying degrees of success with this, but I’m generally pretty good about reserving my in-depth explanations of comic book lore for situations that call for it. Because of this, I am the Go-To Geek whenever one of my friends or family members has questions about the four-color world and once in a great while they will solicit me for thoughts and opinions on Comic Movies, because it is where several of my interests intersect.

ghost rider, motorcycle hero

So it’s no wonder people keep coming up to on the street and asking me about Ghost Rider, which stars Nicholas “Almost Superman” Cage and opens this week. To say I’m less than excited about this movie would be like saying that Yogi Bear kind of likes Picnic Baskets. I will go see it, because I am philosophically obligated to see every comic book movie that comes, thus voting with my dollar to keep them coming. But I don’t think I’ll like it. I’m praying for mediocrity on this one, as I feel that is the most anyone can hope for. This fills me with rage, hot fiery rage.

I think the recent emergence of mainstream comic book movies has been a good thing, by and large. It brings well-loved characters into new media and introduces them to a whole new public. Comics are visual narratives and lend themselves well to the cinema (when done right). But for every Batman Begins, we get a Daredevil. For every Spider-Man we get a Catwoman. And for every X-Men, we get a Ghost Rider. In the rush to cash in on the comic movie trend, studios are mining deep, and what they shake out isn’t always cinematic gold. This is a shame because all they can do is tarnish the good name of some cool characters.

A crash course (Get it?) on the Ghost Rider: Originally published in the early 70s, the series told the story of Johnny Blaze, stunt motorcyclist who had sold his soul to the devil in order to cure his step-father’s cancer. The devil was true to his word and he cured the cancer, but Johnny’s dad soon died in a motorcycle accident. When the devil showed up to collect poor Johnny’s soul, he was devil cock-blocked by Johnny’s sweetheart. The pure love of his girlfriend kept the devil at bay, but in revenge he cursed Johnny to become the flaming-skulled demon at night. In effect, Johnny was possessed by a demon who began as an unspeaking cipher but showed more and more personality as the series progressed. The Ghost Rider did not have Johnny’s consciousness, but his thoughts and feelings influenced the otherworldly biker into doing (mostly) good although his unpredictable nature could cause serious harm to Johnny’s friends. He could somehow “burn people’s souls” with his hellfire, and was mean with a chain. There was also a 1990s reboot of the character, with a different young man becoming the Ghost Rider. It was pretty cool, and Dan Ketch served as my introduction to the character, but it is Johnny Blaze who will be the subject of the movie. He’s a stunt rider, an impulsive hothead who also has a heart of gold and must literally and figuratively overcome his demons to save the people he loves.

I think that’s a complex character, and a cool story. So why will the movie suck? It is doomed to fail. I don’t believe there was any possible way to translate Ghost Rider to the big screen. A giant skeleton with a flaming skull riding around on a demonic chopper looks mighty cool on the comics page, but no amount of CGI will save it on the movie screen. Had this been a cartoon maybe it might have stood a chance at coolness, but as it is Ghost Rider looks ridiculous. It is simply too much to ask people to suspend their disbelief that this guy’s head is constantly flickering with infernal fire. It just looks kind of dumb, and if there is one thing the Ghost Rider should never be it is goofy looking. He should be scary. Is this scary?

ghost rider movie

I’ve never gone on record with who my favorite heroes are, but the top three are probably Daredevil, Moon Knight and Ghost Rider. Now two out of three have been brought to the big screen in an aggressively mediocre way. Hopefully Moon Knight is safe. I’m willing to be surprised, but as I enter the theatre on Friday it will be with a sense of dread in my heart as I prepare to let the studio “Daredevil” me into submission.

The King of the Vagabonds Presents: Tuesday’s True Travel Tales

I’ve been a few places, done a few things. I’ve been known as something of a traveller in my day, putting miles and miles of foreign road under my boots. They’ve got all kinds of things on them: bone dust from the catacombs beneath Paris, muddy snow stains from Mt. Kilmanjaro, etc. In the course of my travels, I’ve had more than a few misadventures of varying degrees of wackiness. Anyone who’s ever shared a beer with me knows I’m something of a storyteller, so I have decided to recount some of my exploits here for you. With any luck it will be a regular thing, but I haven’t had stellar luck with weekly posting yet. Anyway, the adventure begins:

After too many pints of stout there’s no telling what a man may do, and fifteen pints is too many, even for me. They didn’t know that at The Stag’s Head, though they would learn later. My thoughts were getting slow and my voice was getting loud. This is a sure sign that I’m losing the battle and the alcohol will soon have its way with me completely. I found myself swearing more, and particularly enjoying the slurred “F” at the beginning of the word “fuck” which I was liberally applying in and around my sentences. I especially like to use it as a noun without changing the case. I am apt to call anyone who earns my ire “a fuck”, or if I’m feeling particularly salty, a “fucking Fuck.” Never a “fucker,” although sometimes a “Motherfucker.”

The Temple Bar area is in the middle of Dublin, and while it can occasionally get a bit touristy there are enough students and locals in the many pubs to make it worthwhile. The atmosphere is festive, without falling into the sordid bacchanalia of places like Bourbon Street and the Tallahassee strip. I was staying at Trinity, a large University that’s proximity to Temple Bar ended up causing some very enjoyable problems for me that summer. It put me within stumbling distance of my bed, no matter which pub I decided to hit. Continue reading…

More Possible Autobiography Titles

“Tantalizing, But Meaningless”

“Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: The History of a Hip-Hop Icon”

“Such Potential, Unfulfilled”

“That Hideous Strength”

“He Probably Should Have Known Better”

“One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”

“Always Outnumbered, Never Out-punned”

Epic Poetry: The Ballad of Wolverine

Kevin Church has just linked to an awesome product that I wish I would have had back in my younger days. In the comments I recalled my earliest and only attempt at writing poetry and/or rapping. It was the epic tale of one of the most powerful warriors of all time. That warrior’s name was:

Wolverine! Wolverine!
He’s the Man with the Claws
who enforces the laws
Wolverine! Wolverine!
He’s a mutant
of the superhero kind
Always fighting
for your peace of mind
So you don’t clawed in the middle of the night
Wolverine!
Is always putting up the fight
For truth, justice, and liberty
With his partners: Havoc, Gambit, Jubilee…

Wolverine of the X-Men

Wolverine! Wolverine!
He came all the way from the frozen north
to protect us all with his lethal force
Wolverine! Wolverine!
The government messed with his memory
but he can still save you and me
He’s the best there is
At what he does
although his arms
are covered in fuzz
He’s the baddest of the X-Men,
Wolverine!
He don’t just test them.
He can fight, claw, and heal real well
He’s gonna send Sabretooth straight to hell

Wolverine Hugh Jackman

And so on…