Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy 75th Birthday, Golden Gate Bridge!

GGB, we honor you with this portrait of another type of bridge: an aqueduct that has undergone inexplicable, severe truncation.  This old flume is up so high and is so lonely (remind you of any of your friends?) that nobody will ever figure out where its liquid charge is slipping off to.  A functional piece of the world's past, relegated to the job of a common natural point of interest.  Let us not forget that we have set a precedent of only being interested in falling water when it stands out as a pre-civilized naturally occurring form. So wave goodbye and forget, yes! forget what you have seen here today and move on to the next web agenda.   

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Saw The Ligghtz

This comic, by Richard Tuggz, was drawn about a year after the Connecticut Warbler's warehouse fire that destroyed the majority of his work. It was rejected by The Master Magazine, Athiest's Forum Magazine, Jugs Broadsheet, Playboy, and Highlights Magazine.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Weekend With Joss "The Boss" Whedon: Alana Ponui reviews "The Avengers" and "The Cabin in the Woods"

There are a couple modes of being that this web log likes to hang on to, each post is written by the moderator, by no means in the first person, and each post in some way or another hones in on one of the FORCES, Ultd. artist's work. Well, I don't care about that. In fact, this post is all about coming out into the open, coming clean. This post will be my cyber-ablution. My name is Alana Ponui, and I have signed in--against the moderator's will--to write a godammed blog post.

Usually when I have to do some traveling in order to get to a conference I like to hop in and then get out of Dodge s quick as possible. I had to be in Boulder, CO for a Final Cut Pro X conference. This time I decided it might be nice to get there a bit early and absorb some heady popular culture. After landing in Denver, some half-hearted haggling over a rental car, and eating a terrible/awful/delicious/unremarkable footlong subway sandwich, I skipped the "dropping my bags off at 'The Hotel'" step and found myself at the Century Theater, right there in the middle of it all. Let me tell you true, the place looks like a state prison that you would find in the middle of a desert, but there is a PEET's coffee, Whole Foods, Office Max, etc. within arms reach. I found it to be chilling, yet comforting, like drinking a mixed drink that your own son or daughter has prepared. So I walked from the real world through the threshold to the land of make-believe. The satellite of Tinsel Town! The movie I chose to see? You guessed it from reading the title of this post, I'm sure: The Avengers, written and directed by Joss Whedon. Full disclosure: I am a fan of Joss Whedon's previous work, not all of it, but most of it.

For those of you getting tired of this prattle, lets see if I can succinctly sum up how I felt about this movie. If it was a cow that I had to buy I would eat all of the good meat on it, sell the rest of it on ebay, and remember the guy who sold it to me, but not the cow itself, or the town I bought it in. This movie showcased Whedon's (IMHO classic) writing talent. He is funny, and he knows when to draw your emotions toward a character. Really, what more could you want?

Well, I left the theater wanting a few things, yes I did. Most of this had to do with the direct interaction between actor and camera. Accents: 1.Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) are Norse gods. Why are they speaking in vaguely British accents? Are they actually British in real life? I don't know, but it's no excuse. B. The Black Widow (played by ScarJo) actually says that she is Russian, yet sounds like she is having an acid flashback to her days on the set of Ghost World. And another thing! I know this isn't Joss's fault, (mainly because I refuse to blame him for anything except the casting of Eliza Dushku) but Samuel L. Jackson is not Nick Fury! Don't get me wrong I am a lady who has enjoyed him in some roles, (Snakes on a Plain, and that other movie) I have nothing against him personally, but Jackson just does not have what it takes to walk in Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD's shoes. Let me take part of that back and say that sometimes he has too much of what it takes, he goes a little too wild demonstrating emotion at times. Nick Fury is a relentless badass. He cares about his team, he cares about his country, and he cares about getting the job done. Not pouting about his higher-ups! Maybe Denzel or Clooney could have pulled it off. Hell, I think Jimmy Stuart could have done a better job.

But enough griping, I was actually quite charmed by the movie. Whedon knows enough about what he is doing to not send me completely over the edge of the rage cliff. Because I am so familiar with his work I tend to hear his voice permeating the well established characters of the movie, like God's voice speaking through the monks of some ascetic temple. And it works. Somehow it works. There is a smooth transition between say, The Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo) jumping around smashing an entire city, and the fast-paced comic book action. Put Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 4 in a mating cell with The West Wing, The Avengers mythology, the previous movies leading up to The Avengers, and piles of money: The Avengers would be its baby.

Lets move on. After the movie I went to my room at the Briar Rose Bed & Breakfast (don't ask) and spent the evening doing nothing. BUUUUUUUUT the next day I went back to the Century Theater to see The Cabin in the Woods, written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard(who previously worked on Buffy and Angel) and directed by Goddard. This movie was a valentine to the horror genre. These guys wear this genre like a glove and dance around on the table performing tricks of darkest magiks and knocking our beer steins over. All we can do is look at their glove and how well they wear it. Then they turn their glove inside out and we start flipping our collective wig double-time.

This movie is about five college students that take a weekend vacation to a the woods and find that they are beset by undead puritans with a dismemberment fixation. But there is another storyline going on that turns the movie on its head, whilst balancing it quite nicely. There is a constant three-way tension between 1. post-post-modern nod to genre 2. cerebral genre busting 3. classic horror thrills and chills. The basic equation is this: (JW+DG)*((Thrills+Chills)/Bills)='Me Getting My Fills.'

I would like to give my shout out to the whole cast as well. HOLLER to Connolly, Hemsworth, Kranz, Hutchison, and Williams. The characters undergo a not so subtle metamorphosis during the movie that took a subtle finesse to pull off. Each roll was filled out very nicely and I was totally satiated by each performance. Cabin even shared a cast member with Avengers, Chris Hemsworth. As you may recall I had issues with his performance as the character Thor. In Cabin, he plays "the Jock" quite nicely, leaving nothing to be desired.

Around each corner lies a new pleasure. Near the end--don't worry, no spoilers--at a particularly climactic moment, I thought for a brief moment that I was going to find a hefty lump of disappointment staring me down around that next corner. I was wrong! Dead Wrong! It was a hefty lump of pleasure batting its eyelashes at me. You will be pleased by this movie, or you will never be pleased at all in this life.

Allow me to tell you the four things that these two movies have in common. They both employ Chris Hemsworth. They both have cameos by two of my favorite actors that previously starred in Alien, (loved it.) They both left me feeling wary of authority. The kind of feeling where you might wander around staring at security cameras and being bummed out by the FBI. And lastly, they are both about friendship. Each grouping of heroes could not have gotten as far as they did without their buddies to fall back on. This is a common Joss theme. Hey, if you don't have friends, what the hell do you have?

And here I sit, without a friend, at the Denver airport, flying back home from one of the most boring conferences I have ever attended. When I get home I am going to a birthday party, where I will appreciate my friends through the blue lens of The Avengers and the red lens of The Cabin in the Woods. 3D glasses to don that I might find a new dimension in my social life. Or not. On a laptop, using wireless internet, I'm Alana Ponui, and you are hearing my real voice.