On the Dark Knight

Wasn’t sure how to approach a review on The Dark Knight — the movie has received so much critical acclaim and made so much bank, it almost seems like piling on.  I wanted to be sure so I saw it again last week.  Didn’t want to seem too sensational or over-the-top, but…

The Dark Knight is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.  It’s that good.  It’s also that seriously in my wheelhouse.

Of course you have to take into account personal tastes and biases of the writer, which may be a little different from your own.  But from the Beemsville perspective you have an all-time great superhero and fictional character, you have the villain that most embodies the protagonist-shadow relationship, you have total commitment to the character and source material with no sidebars for yuks or ironic self-abasement.  You have intense film-making with vision.  You have meditation on good vs. evil and what defines a hero.  Finally, a movie that lives up the best the comics can offer us — and with The Dark Knight that means Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Batman Year One, and Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke.  

Continue reading

Stray Thoughts on L.A.

 With five days in Los Angeles under my belt, I thought I’d post a few stray thoughts and reactions to the big bright city.  I’m not here as a tourist, so I haven’t seen nearly as much as say, you’re average vacationer, but still…




(photo of Santa Monica Beach at sunset from the phone)




Continue reading

Hellboy II: Weird Romance

Guillermo Del Toro and Mike Mignola’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army is all about mythic vision, epic weird, and yes, romance.  It’s sort of like a creature-feature love song.   Great fun, interesting storyline, and a feast for your oculars.  But one thing it isn’t is a superhero movie.

The film brings us another chapter in the story of Hellboy, “the son of the fallen one” rescued from an interdimensional rift by American soldiers at the close of World War II.  Hellboy grows up to become a field agent for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) — which is sort of a magic-based Men In Black outfit.  Hellboy, based on the Dark Horse Comics, has always been about mystic monster bashing with a pulp and silver age comics feel.  In The Golden Army, Del Toro and Mignola introduce the ancient powers of faerie and mythology into the mix.  These ancient races have faded into the shadows with the growth of human power.  But they still have their doomsday device, an unstoppable magic-powered army of automatons, locked somewhere in the earth.  When the renegade prince decides its time to raise this army and give humanity the heave-ho, it’s up to Hellboy and Co. to stop him. Continue reading

RFK Trip

So there I am at RFK for the Superliga Match between D.C. United and Atlante (of the Mexican League).  This was the full 90 soccer experience, complete with pregame tailgate courtesy of Barra Brava, plenty of drums, beer, singing, and chanting.  Unfortunately D.C. lost 3-2. 

(photo from the new phone)

This game was so much more fun than the last baseball game I attended it wasn’t even funny.  A completely different experience.  When you go into the supporters section for a soccer match, it’s all about participation.  The guys welcomed me in, fed me some chips and beer, and didn’t even give me too much smack for being a Fire supporter every other day of the year.  Sort of reminded me of a really good college basketball or football game when you’re up and yelling the whole time. Continue reading

So long, Claudio

Claudio Reyna has retired from soccer.  The announcement came earlier today, after a string of recent injuries no doubt made worse by the crappy field turf the Red Bulls and so many other MLS teams insist on playing upon.

Claudio was Captain America for about ten years.  He was arguably the best field player on the best ever U.S. squad (in 2002), the Captain, and as good a midfielder as anyone to lace up his boots for the red, white, and blue.  He was named to the all World Cup Squad  in 2002.  Ask Edgar Davids and Luis Figo about him.  Ask Totti or Blanco.  He was so often the guy who held up play for the U.S. and played the smart pass, or won the key tackle.  The guy who dictated tempo and led to the assist or goal.  He was arguably even better as club player, at Wolfsburg, Rangers, Sunderland… Continue reading

Live! From Level 221

…of the Abyss, aka Chicago O’Hare.

Been here since yesterday, and will probably be here all day.  You wonder why all the airlines are filing for bankruptcy these days.  Well, maybe you don’t.  How miserable…  And–

No, no, no, the lady was calling my name for standby but it’s a false alarm.  I’m the last standby dope left in the terminal for that flight.  No guarantee I’ll be first on the list for the next one, though, because “preferred executive” class can bump the rest of us regular slobs.

At this point it’s time to assume a philosophical approach to the air travel gauntlet.  I’ll arrive when I will.  The airline already has their money, so I’m at their mercy.  Getting angry will avail me naught.

Small Strides

Bureaucracies, by their very nature, function to stifle creativity, change, and flexibility.  They seem much more inclined to reinforce the status quo, block the free exchange of ideas, and deflect responsibility away from those who would rather do as little as possible.  Two keys here are a lack of results-driven attribution and reams and reams of arcane policy documentation.  Throw in a bloated and fearful legal element and you have yourself a  recipe for inefficiency.

It is any wonder why so many people are cynical and critical when it comes to big government and big business?

Sometimes, though, you can make it work in your favor.  Not very often, but sometimes.  Then, despite the pettiness and sloth of the bureaucrats, the rigidity of the policy, you get yourself a small victory.  And it tastes good…  Sweet, like a shiny ripe apple…

Review: The Ghost Brigades

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi has a classic science fiction feel: it’s set in an interstellar future, with humanity facing an ongoing struggle against hostile alien races. There are space ships. There are new scientific advances that could give the humans an edge. There’s corruption. There are ancient cosmic mysteries.

Scalzi centers this book around the Colonial Defense’s Special Forces (the Ghost Brigades) who are basically autonomous clone soldiers created from the best DNA of the dead. A little Frankensteinian? Yeah… These soldiers develop their intellect and consciousness quickly due to both their favorable genes and an integrated bio-computer that functions as a sort of brain-google with limited telepathic capabilities. It means a Special Forces soldier, ‘born’ as a physical adult, is ready to fight within months of creation. They take the toughest, bloodiest, most morally ambiguous missions – the ones the regular soldiers don’t want to touch. And they develop their own worldview. Continue reading

New Theme, New Banner

…with a custom image sketch courtesy of Tom Brazelton of Theater Hopper. It is, of course, a rendition of yours truly as Ash from Evil Dead/Army of Darkness. As we all know, Ash is/was a truly awesome character. It’s too bad Raimi, Campbell and Co. could never get it together for another movie… Then again, they probably did everything they could with that particular concept.

Theater Hopper is a thrice-weekly web comic strip devoted to the pop culture of movies. It’s pretty damned funny and gets the official Beemsville recommendation. As an example of Tom’s humor: at his table in Artists’ Alley he was proudly displaying a t-shirt for sale, upon which read, “Rest in Peace, Sean Bean” with a headshot sketch of the beloved limey actor.

Now if you can figure out why that t-shirt made me laugh, you’ll probably be able to figure out what was on the back of said shirt. Go ahead and venture your guess in the comments. If you don’t have a clue as to why this is so funny, that’s OK too. You should still check out Theater Hopper.