Tuesday, July 30, 2013

kick-ass [2010]

what!?  this movie was released nearly three years ago and i just got around to seeing it?!  i remember the posters at the snack bar at sac 6 drive-ins.  one of the posters featured hit-girl, played by chloe grace moretz, and i didn't know who the hell she was.  then i posted the red band trailer here on this blog and i looked so forward to seeing the pic.  and then, well, the sands of time, right.

anyway, hit-girl and her father, big daddy, played by nicolas cage, are the real deal superheroes who have a major grudge against a local gangster played by mark strong.  big daddy has trained his 11-year old to become a vicious killer and a highly original fighter.  kick-ass, played by aaron taylor-johnson, is an ordinary teen with an extraordinary comic book habit.  kick-ass can take a punch, a video of his exploits goes viral, and he inspires a city.

is it wrong to say that the filmmakers created a mad glee when crafting this gem?  hit-girl might be one of the more inspired characters in a long long time.  that girl's got crazy skills and takes great delight in her work.  the movie grazed action movie and superhero cliche but does so in a loving way.  the action set pieces are so well done and scored that it took me a couple nights to finish watching this movie because i kept rewinding and watching them again.

sure this movie is offensive to some.  the violence appears gratuitous brutality but i argue that it is necessary for the story.  plus it is refreshing to see a good hard R-rated imagery in a cinematic landscape dominated by PG-13 movies that are frightened to scare off the 13-33 demographic and global markets.  

well strong's gangster character had a son, red mist, played by the brilliant christopher mintz-plase.  when the shit goes down red mist is still standing and plots revenge.  red mist vows to become a supervillain.  sure enough there is a sequel due in theaters.  kick-ass, hit-girl and red mist [he calls himself something else] return this summer.  at my current rate of movie watching be on the look-out for a review in 2016.


just like looking at a painted chevron

by billy al bengston

only its the street and the guy

holding the sign is asking for a few $$$

you say what the hell

and reach for your wallet

its empty like your head

smile and shrug

just because

the life of art sometimes

kicks you in the balls

and laughs like hell

Sunday, July 28, 2013

pacific rim [2013]

i could not let the summer pass without seeing this flick.  c'mon!  kaiju and giant robot kaiju slayers piloted by two humans synced to not only their machines but to each of their minds that they call 'the drift'.  all this and directed by guillermo del toro who is nothing but a drooling genre fanboy underneath that bit of hollywood veneer. 

and yet. . .and yet. . .the movie lacks any emotional anchor with little to no chemistry between its characters.  the dialogue is horrid and the motives of the two main characters who pilot the jaeger [skyscraper tall robots that is designed to do combat with the monsters], raleigh becket, played by charlie hunnam, and mako mori, played by rinko kikuchi, is, well, the force that drives the green fuse thru the flower.  not really.  both lost loved ones to the kaiju and both suffer deep wounds because of it.  but the script lacks heft for such weighty moments.  the quiet scenes between becket and mori, while very few, because this pic has lots of bang, are unfocused and without any intimacy.

still both pilots 'drift' well with each other and it is without surprise that by the end they become boyfriend and girlfriend.  why not.  i mean, after saving humanity from giant creatures with a set purpose to wipe out humanity and its cities, what else can the heroes do but kiss.  oh dear, did i give the ending away?  seriously.  if you don't know how this flick will end then you probably were not going to see it anyway.  for we humans not only survive, we are plucky, we kick ass.

this film is a fanboy/fangirl's wet dream.  i grew up on ishiro honda's godzilla movies.  i'm not the biggest fan of the kaiju genre but with del toro at the helm and with today's special fx count me in.  i took nick with me this afternoon to see this flick at the local imax.  the movie was in 3d too and tho 3d is not my favorite sort of fx it suited the subject matter quite nicely even if the glasses muddied the lighting and made the quick editing cuts a blur.  even with 3d as a viewing limitation, and i do think 3d is a viewing limitation, the movie is a fun throwback to summertime matinees.  next viewing will be without 3d and the giant imax screen.  who knows if this movie will become a cult favorite.  i've read it was a box office failure.  too bad.  considering all the crap onscreen this summer i feel a bit lucky in that the movies i've seen, all two of them, world war z and pacific rim, do what summer movies are meant to do, take you out into a pulpy otherworld and entertain you for the space of two or three hours.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

corporate ghost [2004; music videos by sonic youth]

i've come home spent the past few nights.  perhaps it is the weather.  temperatures hovering in the triple digits.  perhaps it is my age.  i look in the mirror and am surprised to see a white-haired old man staring back  perhaps it is the doldrums of summer and long hours at the office.  whatever it is i watched this dvd couple nights ago and was -- ah, what is the word? -- ravished.

sonic youth is one of those bands that either changes your perspective or it doesn't.  i really got into sonic youth a little later in their discography.  i knew of them.  i heard them but when i bought at tower records the cassette of daydream nation in 1988 i was blown away.  i mean, who the fuck was this band that created such glorious noise and yet managed to create some mad hooks in their compositions?  song structure, guitar tunings, lyrics, and the very fact that the band members did not look like rock stars but very like art school students changed my perspective.

and so this dvd.  i bought it when tower records was selling its inventory as it closed down forever a few years ago.  i bought lee ranaldo's poetry collection road movies [soft skull press; 2004] during the same liquidation sale.  the title refers to the band's major label years.  their label was geffen.  perhaps it's just me but back in the 90s and early part of this century going corporate allowed for some adventure and risk by those who were willing to risk corporate alienation.  so these videos are directed by indie stalwarts like harmony korine, richard kern, todd haynes, spike jonze et al.  not that these videos are avant-garde or offensive in any way.  there is no nudity or squished bodies as the inclusion of underground filmmaker richard kern would suggest. 

but these videos are packed with energy and a kind of hipness that is available to all who care to embrace it.  the video for 'bull in the heather' [a near perfect song] features kathleen hanna from bikini kill.  you don't get much more indie than kathleen hanna.  '100%' features jason lee during is skateboarding days.  'dirty boots' is a damn fine survey of young love -- or lust, depending on your point of view -- and club going.

in other words the record label is corporate but the band and its videos are just cool.  sonic youth influenced me in another yet more nebulous manner.  one that i've alluded too in this note.  the band and its members have a kind of anti-cool.  they posses an ordinariness that is striking in our media age.  even in middle age the band members and the ban proper celebrate stability.  they remind me of the poet jose kozer when kozer says that he is a poet happy in marriage and who has had a shower in the morning.  risk in life and art does not mean one shirks his/her responsibilities and ordinariness.  sonic youth is a proof against the myth of the poete maudit.  sonic youth rocks the art of life simply and because.    


Monday, July 22, 2013


disoriented is a default stance

a dreary day again

but the nuclear fission of your heart

when you took the longboard off the shelf

held it in your hands

definitions again

love sex death and text

notes of absolute music

Saturday, July 20, 2013

the camp was due north about 25 miles or so above chico.  it's a long drive, over two hours long.  and i got lost.  i turned right in chico rather than left where i should've turned left and we went thru two small towns, hamilton city and orland, and way toward a nature preserve and lake before i realized my boo boo.  i turned into the nature preserve and asked the park ranger who staffed the entrance where the hell i was.  luckily he had a tablet and google maps.  i thanked him and turned around heading due east for camp lassen.  we were only an hour late.

the camp has no wi fi or cell coverage.  it's not totally remote but it is fairly rustic.  red dust covers everything.  everything!  by the second day the plate you are using, the clothes you are wearing, the eyeglasses you use, are so sooted up with dust you shrug your shoulders and accept the grit. 

acceptance is an art.  for this trip i gave in and forgot my anxiety.  i had a wonderful time.  but then i think, and, no boasting, i think i have a gift for joy and pleasure.  the practice of acceptance plays an enormous part in this gift.  call it the tao of joy, or something.  i simply let go my fears and anxieties and take what comes.  plans are important but so is the unexpected for what you unplan for is part of pleasure of the arts of living.

i'm still no hardcore, or softcore, camper.  i am no lew welch, or gary snyyder, or also william everson.  i am a california sub urban boy.  so is nick but he, as i did when i was his age, loves the woods, the forests, and the adventures of a few days of sleeping outdoors.

oh, for the drive up to camp and back down to home i introduced nick to the music of the white stripes.  i brought three of their albums and i swear listening to garage rock and guitar feedback cranked to 11 with your son as you drive thru rich california ag  land is a measure of transcendence.    

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

on not being lew welch

it took me a while to really really really fall in love with lew welch.  but i have.  some years ago when Tower Books, Records, Video was still around i found in the poetry section welch's collected ring of bone and his essay collection how i work as a poet.  the cashier told me someone had ordered those books but hadn't picked them up [by the by i found denise riley's selected poems the same way at a waterstones in london.  someone ordered the book but never collected it].  i say that is being a serendipitous find.

i lucked out as welch was the poet i needed at the time.  and fell hard i did for the great man.  okay fine but how's that on not being lew welch?  well, this week i've been making preparations for a camping trip.  nick and i are heading for lassen state park for a cub scout outing.  now, i grew up camping and i loved it.  the grit, the tent, the roaring campfire, the company.  nick loves camping and all that goes with it.  for me, it's kind of painful to sleep on hard, rocky ground in a sleeping bag. 

lew welch loved it too.  he lived for years in a cabin and wrote many of those grand poems in the forests.  i don't love it anymore.  i am a sub urban child and prefer a hotel room with a toilet and a tap with hot and cold running water.  i believe in what gary snyder calls our own nature being cities, structures, organization.  nature is us, we are nature, we can't escape it because we are part of this earth.

don't get me wrong.  i love what, again, snyder calls wildness, the ecology of mountains and rivers and oceans.  i just prefer a more urban setting.  not like welch who loved being in the wild. 

i have welch on the brain.  i think i am the better for it even if i make some piddly comparison between me and lew welch.  but well hell, poets are, i claim, all brothers and sisters, the living writers and the dead ones. 

our packing is nearly done.  nick is beside himself in anticipation of the hikes and the critters he will find.  i'll go too and expect nothing.  i will just do and have a great time. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

really bad concerts

friday, 7/12/13.  anna picked me up after work.  it was opening day at the state fair.  the fair is an annual tradition for la familia bronson/lopez.  i really don't know if anna and i had missed a year attending the fair in our relationship.  mind you, anna and i have been together going on something like 23 years.  summer is not summer without a trip to the california state fair.

the evening couldn't have been nicer.  tho there were lots of people at the fair it didn't feel crowded at all.  and the temperature -- some years the highs are in the triple digits, which makes for a miserable experience, nothing makes on crankier than a lot of people roasted by a blast furnace sun -- was a very mild high 70s, nearly sweater weather for summer.

we stayed until closing.  there are the traditional exhibits showcased in the exhibits buildings such as FUR & FEATHER [rows upon rows of caged ducks, chickens and rabbits], INDUSTRIAL ARTS [local schools and colleges featuring student projects], FINE ARTS [a clearinghouse of california artists], and CRAFTS [quilts, scrapbooking, dress making etc etc], and a few other high tech extravaganzas like a 3-D tour thru an enchanted forest [sounds silly and nerdy but was quite well done and thrilling]. 

now, in the FINE ARTS section there are some very good paintings.  but in the CRAFTS it all appears to be victoriana kitsch [there was a wonderful quilt with a halloween theme that i adored].  the victorian age doesn't seem to want to die.  however, i wondered, what is art.  i mean, how do we ascribe meaning and depth to made things.  if it is a painting, particularly of a serious subject [like death, like politics] then we give it more value.  however, if the subject is a scene of christmas patched to a quilt or sweater we give it less value.  more value is art and the less value is kitsch.  even i am guilty of such assignations.  but why.  what the hell is art anyway but things made by humans.  everything has some meaning to someone.  the definitions of art are dynamic.  art is what we say it is.  and the person who created that halloween quilt is, in my humble estimation, an artist like the person who made a huge dia de los muertos sugar skull in the FINE ARTS exhibit [which was really cool, but i'm afraid i couldn't own such a piece even if i had the space for it and the money to purchase it.  for you see it was really made of sugar and i'd have to have a lick.  and once you start licking candy you can't stop until it is gone.]. 

art is what makes you it.  for me there is no high art or low art.  there are only the things we create and if it speaks to you then let us call it art.  which brings me to the concerts.  for the life of the state fair there are a number of musical acts and bands.  for the main stage are the headliners, bigger name bands and musicians, and on the smaller stages located in various corners of the fair grounds are local acts.  you will not find bands like U2 or the Rolling Stones on the main stage.  however, one year anna and i saw The Go-Gos, all original members, who freaking rocked out.  sometimes there are some good bands.  other years, well, it depends on your taste.

i couldn't figure out who the band was on the main stage which is located in a central part of the fairgrounds.  even if you are not in the audience you can't avoid hearing the music.  the band covered ozzy osbourne's song 'crazy train' and a song by journey.  i thought they were a cover band for vintage pop metal.  but there was a song the band played that i recognized but couldn't quite place.  the tune was very popular in its day.  i thought the song was by loverboy, and early '80s pop rock outfit.  not to my taste at all.  nick thought 'crazy train' was rocking and he was banging his head to the tune.  the boy does like his rock&roll.

it wasn't till later i found the identity of the band, night ranger, who, like loverboy, was huge in the early 1980s.  i loathed night ranger.  they were the soul killing top 40 corporate cash machine that fueled my teenage rebellion as i listened to hardcore punk bands like MDC, Flipper, Black Flag et al.  that was then this is now.  i looked at the audience for night ranger.  they were having a great time.  and the band was in tune and were tight.  who the fuck am i to say it wasn't good.

still, i didn't like it.  i still don't like that kind of music.  but it is art.  just not my art. 

later there was another heavy metal band playing a smaller stage on the other side of the fair right in the thick of the kids' midway.  these guys were also doing a lot of cover songs.  every member of the band were either my age or older.  they still sported long hair and a style that spoke of '80s couture.  the lead guitarist had a cool mane of silvery locks.  they rocked hard putting energy and soul into their performance.  i don't like heavy metal, especially since i came of age during the reign of iron maiden and, a bit later, metallica.  metal ain't my thing.  but these dudes were good and so i stopped on the tarmac standing near stage right next to the silver maned lead guitarist to listen to a band seriously kicking out the jams.  the amps were cranked to eleven.  i didn't stay for very long because the music was too loud for anna and nick.  for the few moments i stood and watched and listened i knew i was, de gustibus non est disputandum,  in the presence of art. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

what i want from writing from life

what i admire in life and writing is


some have it

some don't

but i was grooving on a few poems

by michael dennis

from canada

who advises young poets


 I tell them that writing isn’t as important
 as being a good person

i believe dennis when he says this

you don't have to be a good person

to be a good writer

many of us are not

i am trying

and what i value most

is a generous soul

in life and verse

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


i gots troubles, well not really, but i had written a couple movies reviews last night.  then blogger was effing up and i couldn't publish them.  my dashboard got all wonky.  i couldn't understand it.  and today, the same thing.  oh shit.  nothing like having something not work when it supposed to work.  frustrating as all hell.

but then i was thinking.  my browser is old.  i use IE 8 which i guess is, in techie talk, like ancient.  a lot of sites warn me to upgrade my browser.  so now i'm using firefox and wha la! blogger is back to its usual self.

my frustration level is a little less than furious now.  i lost the movie reviews.  i can write them again.

Monday, July 08, 2013


walk and think of monsters [2010]

that scene where the girl's passport is stolen

the eternal terminus

van gogh gathered we are strangers on earth

no, we are tourists

Friday, July 05, 2013

a few words on a good read

eileen tabios did it again.  she's curated a very fine portfolio of haybun [hay(na)ku married to prose] entitled 147 million orphans published in mark young's excellent journal otoliths.  the title refers to the estimated number of orphan children living in the world.  the idea was to tap a few poets to engage with a school assignment, a list of 900 english words to be learned within a school year by tabios' adopted son.

the results are to this reader dazzling.  tho tabios asks each poet to stick within the theme of orphans she allows for the flexibility required in order to make good writing.  john bloomberg-rissman compels a very long list of words, the prose portion of his haybun, to be orphans without a sentence.  while on the other hand, a collaboration between patrick james dunagan and ava koohbor, expands the theme to create a jazzy syncopation of urban wilderness.  both are astonishing performances.

moving along to tom beckett's contribution is a tour de force of economy.  his orphans refuse to be one thing or multiple things.  they are guitar chords and sometimes grace notes. 

while sheila murphy writes of a single child.  better is the music of the words murphy uses.  they literally bounce on the tongue. 

     endeavor gingerly
     grimace gruesome inventory

this hay[na]ku is, i think, part of the 900 word list.  these are polysyllabic words with lots of vowels.  they crash into utterance.

furthermore, jean vengua's piece is a tear thru the childhood song, tisket tasket.  vengua fuses two words in her hay[na]ku that is surreal, comic and full of horror, hen ivy.  those two words go so well together i think they can be a title for a book. 

these are a few of the gems found within this folio.  nine bows to eileen tabios for making it happen. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


in the boring village

hunched over the boring desk

another triple digit day

it's been a long one

open another jar of wine

salute the strange

write another line

worries for market and court

such will get along without you

just fine

mccrary reading!!!

below is a video jim mccrary reading from his chapbook M ental Tekst made today.  mccrary's work is always a cause -- for me, and you too -- for celebration.  the dude is the real poetic deal.  perfect summer stuff for the start of a long holiday weekend.  dig in and enjoy.