Saturday, April 3, 2010

Reading/Watching/Listening #4

READING: Temporary Monsters by Ian Rogers. I miss chapbooks. Back when I started out, getting one published was a sure sign that a writer was stepping up his or her game and making a move towards solo projects. That's the way it is with this novella from Ian Rogers and Burning Effigy Press. The tale follows P. I. Felix Renn's encounter with the dark side courtesy of a dimension called the Black Lands, a Twilight Zone which churns up some nasty creatures of the supernatural variety and tosses them into Toronto's simmering film industry. I'm sure this one will earn Rogers more than a few comparisons to Jim Butcher -- and those are apt -- but Rogers' work hits just as close to the good old P. I. stuff you'll find in yellow-paged paperbacks. He's got the rhythm and the wryness ("He tossed me across the restaurant like a lawn dart..."), plus dialogue and description that snaps. Most of all, Rogers has a hardluck character in Renn who's a keeper. Here's hoping the next step for this young writer will be a collection, because it looks to me like he's got a bibliography that will fill up a table of contents page just fine.

WATCHING: All four Lethal Weapon movies. Snatched these up in a two-disc set at Target for around ten bucks. And who knows why, but during my last few days of paternity leave Tia and I decided to watch a Lethal Weapon movie every night. Maybe this is what sleep deprivation does to you.

Of course, we battened down the hatches and hid the kidlet in her crib first. But, wow, I forgot what fun this series is, especially since the Lethal flicks are action movies made in the days before CGI. Or to put it another way: when a gas station blows up in a Lethal Weapon movie -- yep, they blow up a gas station. When cars get smashed so badly they look like Godzilla had his way with them -- yep, those bumpers weren't dented by computer techs juggling Coke cans and empty Pixy Stix straws. And when a guy in street armor lets loose with a flame-thrower -- watch out cast and crew, that Johnny Storm Flame On! action could sure enough toast your marshmallows and then some.

So from a guy-movie perspective, part of the fun of the Lethal Weapon series is watching things blow up for real. After a decade of CGI, I kind of forgot exactly how much fun that can be. Amazing to see a guy surf SoCal freeways on an upturned table tied to a rampaging big rig, and realize that some crazy stuntman really did that. Wild to watch a million-dollar mansion (or reasonable facsimile thereof) get pulled off a Hollywood hillside. Insane to see a building demolished with explosives -- and realize that Richard Donner & company decided to foot the bill for that action just to have a knockout tag scene after the end-credits for one of the sequels.

Even better: my wife liked these movies. Maybe Tia's just into the Gibson/Glover bromance thing. Or maybe she just liked watching Rene Russo kick ass while playing a character who's nine months pregnant. To tell the truth, I think any new mom would dig that after what they've been through.

Me, I liked all the aforementioned stuff blowing up, and Gibson and Glover, too. Plus: you won't find a scarier psychopath than Gary Busey's Mr. Joshua from the first movie. That's a cat built for top-drawer mayhem, and a really great villain. Too bad they didn't stack up Mr. J against Jet Li in LW4. Now that would have been a brawl fit for the villains hall of fame.

LISTENING: Where the Roots All Grow by The Builders and the Butchers. If there's a better rockin' hillbilly tune about an underground lake inhabited by sixteen vampires than the one by this crew of wild-eyed ex-Alaskan roots musicians, I haven't heard it. If you want to take these gents for a test-drive, your youtube link to a shaky-cam live recording of "Vampire Lake" is right here. You can thank me later.