Sunday, May 30, 2010


I still haven't seen Chariots of Fire, but I did watch the original Vangelis music video. So I'm slowly working my way up to the whole movie.

Oh, and a special message for the fine folks at

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Zeke Chen was one of the wealthiest and most successful merchants in all the land.

After a most trying week, Zeke found himself ready for some relaxation. The servants at his compound bowed as he passed and he responded by nodding acknowledgement. He held tightly to the newspaper in his hand as he approached his first stop.

Zeke made the left into the house where First Mistress resided. As she sat on the sofa eating wild strawberries, she acknowledged him as he entered. He noticed a few wrinkles around her eyes and was astonished at how flabby her buttocks had become. First Mistress had seen forty summers, so this change in proportion was to be expected. She asked him if he wanted a foot massage. Zeke was too astonished at first to answer, but then realized she was offering to call in her main servant to administer it. He told her he wasn’t interested and declined. First Mistress offered him some of the leftover tofu she had been eating earlier. He declined this offer as well. When he was able to get her full attention, he pointed to his paper and showed her a review of the film, Raise the Red Lantern. He said that those who write about such things recommend it highly. She looked at the paper and scrunched her face. She said she wasn’t interested and suggested he check with one of the other mistresses. The first mistress acknowledged a preference for movies on a satellite network called Lifetime, which she said dealt with issues that she could understand in a manner that he could not. A flicker of sadness over this chasm was noticeable upon her face, but she quickly turned her attention away from him as a movie dealing with adulterous behavior and homicidal acts at a trailer park community in a land called South Dakota came onto her television screen. Zeke Chen turned away and agreed with her that he could not relate to this.

Zeke entered the house of the Second Mistress a little more optimistically. She had seen only thirty summers, so he assumed she should have at least a couple of quality seasons left. When she offered him a foot massage he was momentarily hopeful before she pointed to her main servant. He declined the offer as well as the subsequent offer of leftover tofu. He showed her the review and her eyes lit up for a moment, but she declined interest as well. Zeke realized that there had been a time when she would have taken her up on his offer, but apparently that time had passed. When he asked her what she was interested in, she told him about a fascination she had with something called FarmVille. He was intrigued at first, as Second Mistress had never before shown an interest in the outdoors before. But he was quickly disappointed when she pulled out from underneath her bed frame a laptop computer, which she showed to him. She pointed to her screen which read FarmVille in red and blue letters. Second Mistress expressed excitement over animated mystery eggs, big horned sheep, and something called an Ossabaw pig. She also expressed a great deal of excitement over a cartoon cow jumping off a diving board into a swimming pool. This only served to confuse Zeke Chen and he bid Second Mistress farewell.

Zeke was now disheartened as he entered the house of the Third Mistress. Having just seen twenty-one summers, he was unsure about the potential for any enthusiasm from her. When he saw her, she expressed no noticeable sadness that she had already eaten all the tofu and could offer him none. She didn’t even present to him her servant to give him a foot massage. When he asked about it, she said it was fine with her and should enquire with her main servant if that was what he wanted. He told her that he wasn’t interested in that anyway. He did explain to her in no uncertain terms that there was a movie called Raise the Red Lantern that was supposed be of high quality and that he would like her to see it with him. Third Mistress closed her eyes as if in pain. She explained to him how motion pictures were no longer relevant in today’s society. She pulled out a little case, in which contained something she called a Nintendo DS. She explained to him that it had two screens and how the best part about it was the feel of the touchscreen. The game she showed him consisted of a small man she called Mario who appeared to be driving a car in a competition with a type of dragon. Third Mistress stated she couldn’t leave her game tonight when she was just getting the hang of it. She asked him if he wanted to touch her game. He declined. Zeke Chen dimmed the light as he left her house.

Zeke was frustrated. He thought about what he should do to these women. Throw them down a well? The thought brought a smile to his face. Hang them in the tower? The second thought brought an even bigger smile to his face. But Zeke Chen knew that though he was the best merchant there was, he was ultimately not a violent man.

Zeke went to the house of the Fourth Mistress. His expectations were pretty low by now. The fact that his newest mistress had only seen eighteen summers also didn’t give much confidence that she would react favorably to his suggestion. When he came in the door, Fourth Mistress ran up to him and kissed him. This took him by surprise and made him blush. She ran back to the table and brought over some tofu, which she stuck in his mouth before he had a chance to protest. He had to admit it tasted good. She led him to a reclining chair, where she took his shoes off. Her main servant dutifully came over to rub his feet, but she sent her away and rubbed his feet herself! When she was done he felt relaxed and rejuvenated. He asked her if she was interested in television. She replied she was not. He asked her if she was interested in the computer. She replied that she was not. He asked her if she was interested in video games of any kind. She replied one more time that she was not. He then asked her if she wanted to go to a movie. She shouted excitedly and told him how much she loved movies. He got up and grabbed her hand and started for the door. He paused for a moment to get out the article that reviewed Raise the Red Lantern. She looked at it and smirked and pulled out an article of her own that reviewed a movie called Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. Zeke had never heard of this before and when Fourth Mistress explained what it was about, he realized it was not something he could ever be interested in. He tried to explain to her that the article she had just showed him indicated this was not a movie of high quality, but this didn’t seem to matter to her. He complained he had had a hard week and was really too tired for a movie now anyway. She looked momentarily disappointed, but seemed to lighten up when she put in the earbuds attached to her iPod Shuffle and started rocking her head to the music.

Zeke went out to the lake located behind the compound. He took off his shoes and waded a few feet out into the water. He pulled himself up on a rock before reaching into his pocket. He pulled out his grandfather’s knife and pulled it away from him. Before he could bring the knife back into his chest, he noticed a picture had fallen out of his pocket onto the rock next to him. It was a photograph of the former First Mistress who, like Zeke, would have been in her fiftieth summer if she hadn’t died five winters ago. Zeke Chen pressed the picture against his heart and wept throughout the night.



Zeke went out to the lake located behind the compound. He took off his shoes and waded a few feet out into the water. He pulled himself up on a rock before reaching into his pocket. Before he could pull anything out, all four of his mistresses jumped out from behind a tree and shouted birthday wishes to him as they ran out into the lake to him. As busy as the week had been, Zeke had forgotten all about the fiftieth anniversary of his birth. The mistresses brought him off the rock and they went to the neighborhood theater where they all enjoyed Raise the Red Lantern. After the movie was over they went back to the compound where they all went into his house. Zeke Chen got very little sleep that night.


Saturday, May 22, 2010


Chaplin Fan: Good evening and welcome to Classic Movies Revisited. Tonight we are going to dredge up a debate that’s been going on for over eighty years. That is, deciding who was the king of silent film comedians, Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. I’m Chaplin Fan. And please, let’s stick to the films and not hold against Charlie his succession of teenage wives or any political views.

Keaton Fan: And I’m Keaton Fan. And yes, don’t hold against my guy that he later appeared in Beach Blanket Bingo.

Chaplin Fan: Deal. Go on.

Keaton Fan: My submission for the jury is Buster’s 1926 classic The General and since we need to have a short as well, I have chosen The Paleface from 1922. Why, The Paleface? Well, because I had a copy handy on VHS.

Chaplin Fan: My submission for the jury is Charlot’s 1931 classic City Lights and since I needed to pick a short as well, I chose The Pawnshop from 1916. Why did I choose The Pawnshop? Because I had a Super 8mm copy of this film in the 70’s. and I wanted to relive the memory. So make your case for The Great Stone Face.

Keaton Fan: Gladly. First of all, the most important question to answer about any silent comedy is: was it funny? Well, yes. Keaton films are damn funny. You want physical comedy? Nobody could do their own stunts like Keaton. He was an amazing visual artist. He could make something simple like about to get burned at the stake in The Paleface funny just by moving slightly away from where the tribe is about to light the fire underneath him. And the stunts on the train during The General are not only funny, they forwarded the plot and some of them makes you wonder how in the world did he do that? And he wasn’t all about stunts. Subtle scenes like the Union general burning a hole in the tablecloth and Keaton using the hole to catch a glimpse of his true love were great. Chaplin was always the one that had a reputation for demonstrating pathos or sympathy for his character, but look at the final scene of The General where Keaton states his occupation as “soldier.” I dare you not to shed a tear to that one. Now make your case for The Little Tramp.

Chaplin Fan: Thank you. In viewing The Pawnshop and City Lights, I noticed Charlie’s growth from the most popular movie star in the world to the greatest artist in the world. Charlie could find comic gold in getting caught in a ladder, fixing a cuckoo clock or accidentally foiling a heist. And in City Lights, how can you beat the opening scene of the unveiling of a statue with the Little Tramp on its lap. And the last shot of the tramp smiling when the blind flower girl regains her sight. Find a more touching ending of any movie. EVER! I haven’t even talked about the boxing scene. Hilarious, masterful and better every time you see it. Charlie always worked with great supporting foils and feemes. John Rand, Edna Purviance and others in his films were the greatest supporting comic actors of the day and Chaplin wasn't afraid to use them-

Keaton Fan: -Hold on a second. Why are we arguing?

Chaplin Fan: I don’t know. We’ve always argued about this.

Keaton Fan: Why don’t we work together? I think Chaplin was great, just not as great as Keaton.

Chaplin Fan: And I think Keaton was great, just not as great as Chaplin.

Keaton Fan: Isn’t it hard enough to get a modern audience to appreciate any black & white movie, yet alone a silent one.

Chaplin Fan: I’m with you. It’s a comic art form in cinema that was unique and will never come back. Let’s appreciate it.

Keaton Fan: Work together?

Chaplin Fan: Together.

Keaton Fan and Chaplin Fan shake hands.

Keaton Fan and Chaplin Fan stare at each other in silence.

Keaton Fan: (pointing) Keaton is number one!

Chaplin Fan: (pointing back) Chaplin is number one!

Keaton Fan huffs and exits stage left.

Chaplin Fan huffs and exits stage right.

A giant title card drops on the stage which reads: THE END

Monday, May 17, 2010


June 18, 1999. Chris has just seen Run, Lola, Run at the Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta and is about to enjoy a cheesesteak at Woody’s on Monroe Drive with his friend, Eric. Chris currently has no girlfriend.

Eric: What did you think?

Chris: (after quickly swallowing a bite of cheesesteak) I’m still excited. What a great movie! Timing is everything in life. It’s a loose thread we hang by. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie that captures that thought so well.

Eric: Didn’t they cover the same territory in Groundhog’s Day?

Chris: Oh, please. This was miles ahead of Groundhog’s Day. Let’s face it. The German mind is just more creative that ours. The roots of their oppression coming out of the war have enabled them to have a creative flow that we fat, bloated Americans can’t relate to. It’s like the gospel tradition tracing its musical roots back to slavery. We privileged white boys can’t relate to this when our biggest problem is…

Eric: All I know is there isn’t enough cheese on this cheesesteak.

Chris: When our biggest problem is not having enough cheese on our cheesesteak.

Eric: That girl in the movie, though. Now, that’s my type. Young, kind of wild, cute in that kind of way…You know the kind of exotic way of European chicks?

Chris: Dream on, partner.

Eric: Anyway, what was the deal when she screamed loud enough to break the glass?

Chris: That was an homage to The Tin Drum. You know about Oskar the boy who wouldn’t grow up?

Eric: I never saw that one. I thought it was distracting when it switched to animation.

Chris: Try to tap a little into your artistic sense, Eric. The cartoon interludes wouldn’t have been as effective if they had been done with live actors. And those opening credits. “We’ve got a ball and 60 minutes…the rest is unknown.” Loved it.

Eric: (Pointing to a homeless man passed out at a nearby table) Hey, check out that guy over there.

Chris: Oh, that’s Mike, affectionately known as "The Mayor of Monroe Drive." They’ll shoo him out in a minute.

Eric: Anyway, I liked the music. Kept you on the edge of your seat.

Chris: The music was great. Reminded me of Miami Vice at its best.

Eric: I loved Miami Vice!

Chris: I know. I know. It's your favorite show. I know! (Chris and Eric begin pounding their fingers as drums, imitating the pulsing musical rhythms of Miami Vice before Mike lifts his head and gives them an annoyed look.)

Chris: (Stopping the beating with his fingers to use them to point at Eric.) Oh, and the split screen technique they used. That would be a cliché in lesser hands than Mr. Tykwer.

Eric: Who is Tykwer?

Chris: The director, Tom Tykwer and…boy that food didn’t set too well with me.

(Chris begins to hold onto his stomach.)

Eric: Hey! Are you okay?

(Chris looks dizzy and starts to sink his head to the table.)

Chris: No…Stop….I don’t want to leave.

June 18, 1999. Chris has just seen Run, Lola, Run at the Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta and is about to enjoy a cheesesteak at Woody’s on Monroe Drive with his fiancée. Chris has been engaged for a week.

Chris: Well, what did you think, baby?

Chris’s fiancée: (Grabbing Chris’s hand) I think that will always be our first movie we’ve seen together since we’ve been engaged.

Chris: And I love you too. But what did you think?

Chris’s Fiancée: Well, it was pretty exciting in places, but I like a more traditional story. Don’t you, honey?

Chris: No…I mean yes. I’m just happy to see anything with you.

Chris’s Fiancée: Oh, you’re so sweet. (She takes a big bite of her sandwich)

Chris: I do love a girl who appreciates good cheesesteak.

Chris’s Fiancée: I’m starving for food…but not for love.

Chris: And love you I do.

Chris’s Fiancée: Even more than that pretty girl in the movie?

Chris: Yes, even more than the pretty girl in the movie.

Chris’s Fiancée: Maybe I’ll die my hair orange. Do you think that’s a good look for me?

Chris: Maybe…I mean no. You’re perfect exactly as you are.

Chris’s Fiancée: Oh, you know just what to say. But if we hadn't met, do you think you'd be saying I love you to someone else? Like they asked each other in the movie.

Chris: I missed most of that scene when I was in line at the concession getting you that giant tub of popcorn. But no, of course I wouldn't be.

Chris's Fiancée: Oh, you are such an angel. (Now whispering) Oh my, do you see that man passed out on the table over there?

Chris: That’s just Mike. He’s known affectionately as "The Mayor of Monroe Drive."

Chris’s Fiancée: Mayor?

Chris: Not a real mayor, lamb chop.

Chris’s Fiancée: That’s so sad. He probably had a love in his life just like you and I do and look at him now. He looks a little like the homeless man in the movie.

Chris: I guess. I missed some of that scene when I was in line at the concession getting you that giant box of Raisinets.

Chris’s Fiancée: Oh, I’m sorry that I made you miss part of the movie. If I had know the movie wasn’t even an hour and a half long, I certainly wouldn’t have made you get up so often.

Chris: Everything for you, my darling, is a labor of love.

Chris’s Fiancée: (Grabbing Chris’s hand once again) There you go again being so doggone sweet.

(Chris begins to hold onto his stomach.)

Chris: I guess that food didn't set too well with me.

Chris’s Fiancée: Honey? Honey Bunny? Are you all right?

(Chris looks dizzy and starts to sink his head to the table.)

Chris: No…Stop…I don’t want to leave.

June 18, 1999. Chris has just seen Run, Lola, Run at the Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta and is about to have a cheesesteak at Woody’s on Monroe drive with Mike, a homeless man, better known as “The Mayor of Monroe Drive.” Chris’s final divorce papers came in earlier that day.

Chris: Hey, Mike. Here you go. Have part of my cheesesteak. I can’t eat it all. I filled up too much on Budweiser.

(Mike nods his head in thanks before beginning to chow down)

Chris: (Grabbing his chest) You know, Mike I just saw this movie. German. Run, Lola, Run. Thought it was crap. Derivative. Kind of like Groundhog’s Day, just not funny. And what good would Groundhog’s Day be if it weren’t funny?

(Mike shrugs)

Chris: And that music! Sounded like leftovers from Miami Vice for God’s sake. Well, you know how those Germans are don’t you Mike? Regimented. Disciplined. You really think all that there Nazi blood can be completely diluted after just a couple of generations?

(Mike shakes his head)

Chris: All right. All right. Maybe I’m off base there. Oh, yeah. Those parts where the girl screamed and broke glass. Can you believe it? Just like in The Tin Drum. It’s like they said “why don’t we blatantly ripoff a good movie and put it in our own bullshit movie?”

(Mike ignores the question and takes the final bite of his portion of The Philly Cheesesteak.)

Chris: And all that split screen. Wasn’t that something right out of Bewitched? You know when Samantha talked to her cousin? Well, it wasn’t exactly like that in the movie. But it’s what it made me think of. Come on, now. Why are you interrogating me, Mike?

(Mike shrugs again)

Chris: And that girl. Pretty, I guess. But those are the worst kind, Mike. They suck you in like a vacuum cleaner and spit you out when your bones are nothing but marrow. At least a robber might knock you over the head, take your money and go away. But a woman. A woman will remove a part of you like a jigsaw puzzle…Wait, that’s not quite right. A woman will dissect you alive, one layer of skin at a time. (Chris begins to hold onto his stomach.) Boy, that food didn’t set too well with me. No…Stop….I don’t want to leave.

(Chris looks dizzy and starts to sink his head to the table.)

Mike stares at Chris who is passed out on the table.
Mike pokes him a couple of times.
Chris grunts.
Mike shrugs.
Mike finishes Chris’s portion of the cheesesteak

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Just as Peter Lorre did in M, I whistled In the Hall of the Mountain Kings as I strode down 52nd Street. Of course Hans Beckert wasn't in New York. But that was no matter. I learned all about the background of that musical piece from the Criterion Collection DVD of the previously mentioned Fritz Lang classic. What you can learn when you listen to Criterion commentaries!

As I continued on my journey, I had to step around a lot of glass removed from store windows, but hey, this was the Big Apple and there was always change and progress afoot. The geometry of the city impressed me beyond words. Despite its diversity, there was a rigidity of the pattern of the landscape that was as predictable as the rising and setting of the sun.

I almost tripped over the front step of the building when I at long last had reached my destination. I pumped my fist as I ran triumphantly inside on my way to the offices of The Criterion Collection. Was I really here?

There wasn’t a soul in the lobby, so I quickly slipped into an empty elevator and took a trip to the floor where Criterion lived. The greatest distributor of the greatest movies ever made. Did I forget to say WOW? As I reached the third floor and began moving down the hall, I still didn’t see anyone. Was this a holiday? I would have hated to come all the way from Chickasaw, Alabama for nothing. It was then that I almost ran smack dab into the big glass door that offered the one word that said it all: Criterion. Did it even need to say anymore?

I was relieved to see the door was open, but an empty reception desk stood before me. Strange, yes. But what an opportunity! I could sneak into the back! I could actually go into the inner sanctum. The bowels of Criterion. This was movie dork heaven! I could always say I was just looking for someone if security caught me. It was worth the risk. Without hesitation, I went through a surprisingly unlocked door and I was in a back hallway. I heard the sound of a film projector; at least I thought that was what it was. I noticed a stack of VHS tapes outside the room. I guessed these were the next to be converted to DVD and readied for distribution. I shouldn’t mess with them, should I? Are you kidding? Curiosity got the best of me as I looked at the titles, The Fountainhead, Red Dawn, Bedtime for Bonzo. These weren’t very Criterion-like titles, but before I could think on it further I heard a voice from a room a couple of doors down.

I really should go now. But when would I ever get the chance to be where I was now? I snuck up next to the door and listened.

“This is Henri DeGaulle, Jacques Tati scholar and I will be providing commentary for Tati’s 1967 film Play Time.”

“Now that’s a Criterion-like title,” I whispered.

I listened in on DeGaulles’s commentary.
“What Tati is trying to say is that when you look past the depersonalization of the city, what you get is a bloated and oppressive government that tries to run your life and cripples you with high taxes designed to hinder the achievers in society. These personal achievers get punished by having to cough up their hard earned income to provide healthcare for illegal immigrants and fund abortion clinics.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. What was he talking about? Play Time was about the dehumanization of modern society as seen thorough geometric shapes and the like. How we acclimate ourselves to the straight lines of society before eventually breaking into an individualistic curve. Maybe I didn’t have the interpretation exactly right, but Henri’s interpretation was utterly absurd!

Something told me I should get out of there as fast as I could, but pulled myself into the room as I heard Henri DeGaulle saying something about how Tati’s film advocated prayer in the public schools. Had this learned scholar really gone this far off the deep end? I noticed De Gaulle’s accent seemed a little off. Beside him was a half-drunken glass of red wine, a chunk of Roquefort cheese and a cigarette smoldering within a cigarette holder. It was perfect. A little too perfect.
I noticed his tiny black moustache as I approached him. He was also wearing a beret set slightly askew on his head. I drew closer and it was then I noticed the truth.

Once again I should have ran, but instinctively I pulled off his beret.

“You’re not Henri DeGaulle. You’re Fox commentator Glenn Beck!”

Beck spun around as he ripped off his fake moustache. He lunged for me, but luckily he tripped over his chalkboard before he could capture me. As I ran out of the room, he did manage to cut my left leg with one of his talons, which was painful, but didn’t cause me to slow down. He didn’t follow me, but pointed and let out a piercing squeal as I ran away. My leg hurt, but I had to continue.

Before I could reach the emergency exit, Two figures stood down from me. They too were recognizable. It was Fox demagogue Sean Hannity and Cable TV agitator Ann Coulter. They pointed in my direction and let out squeals of their own as they came at me. They both flashed an impressive set of vampire teeth, but I had no time to debate whether or not they were members of the undead. I spotted an open window and went out on the railing. It was three stories down, but realized this might be my only means of escape.

I shouted “Sic Semper Tyrannis” as I jumped out of the building. I realized it might not have been the appropriate thing to yell out, but I was improvising. I plummeted onto an awning, before rolling onto some garbage cans. My fall busted my elbow up pretty severely. Hannity and Coulter were looking down on me as I managed to get myself up. I felt a sharp sting on the back of my neck which I at first thought might be from a BB gun. But it wasn’t BB’s. It was tea bags. They were actually pelting me with tea bags! Damn. And these fanatics sure had great aim. And they really stung!

As I limped back down 52nd street, it was then that I noticed there wasn’t anyone else on the street. I didn’t pay attention as to what was going on around me on my way to Criterion because I was too excited. What I saw now were pods. Or were they spores? All lined up and ready to attack at any moment. Or maybe replication? I turned away from them and headed for what I thought was an open door, which led to a hotel. Every ounce of my flesh felt like it was burning as I crashed through the glass. Oops. Not an open door after all. Man, I wish I had noticed the glass was there before. I shook off the shards as I picked myself up and went to look for a place to hide, but all the cubicles…they all looked the same. I was disoriented. I made a run for a hiding place, but felt something trip me. I toppled hard and landed squarely and painfully on my hip. I looked up to see the culprit and noticed the shapely leg that tripped me belonged to none other than former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. She too began to squeal as she started to pelt me with teabags at point blank range. What is it with these people and their damn tea bags? I guess they were teabags anyway. The blood flowing over my eyes made it too difficult to tell.

I managed to back out of the building and hobbled to a side alley where I collapsed next to a dumpster. I couldn’t go on any longer. It was just a matter of time now. It was then that I heard the whir of a small hovering spacecraft of some kind approaching. Was this for real? Was this the end? After I wiped my eyes, I could make out that it was in the shape of a doughnut. No, it looked like the letter O. As the door to the craft opened, I saw a shining light behind the figure as he emerged from it. He was a tall, thin, brownish male with an engaging smile. Realization sunk in as he put his hand out to me.

“You’re the pres…the pres.” I was unable to get the words out.

“Come with me if you want to live,” he said as he reached out his hand to me.

I took it.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


When I started this blog last August, my first entry was for Chariots of Fire. I hadn't seen it, but expressed a desire to do so. Now, I still haven't seen it, but I still want to. I vow to end my 28 (now 29) year streak of not having seen Chariots of Fire to be over soon. Well, pretty soon anyway. When I get a chance. It's on my list. Really. I'll watch it. Just don't rush me. Don't rush me!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I, Kris, the blog writer continue to wrestle with my thoughts. I simply cannot decide what to write about the 1972 Andrei Tarkovsky Russian Science-Fiction classic Solyaris. I lie down to think further and have strange dreams about linguini and tiramisu throughout the night.

I awaken to find myself crinkling against the cellophane of an unfamiliar mattress. A lithesome figure in a blue negligee shuffles past me. I follow the figure to an adjoining room. Her back is to me as I tap her on the shoulder. She turns to me. The young woman blushes as I eye her with disbelief.
“Ciao,” she says coyly.

“I know you. You’re…you’re Claudia Cardinale! I’d guess about vintage 1969 from about the time of Once Upon a Time in the West,” the blog writer says.

“1968. But you were close.” She puts a hand to her mouth as she giggles.

The blog writer sits down in a white plastic chair and Claudia does the same. For the first time he takes in his surroundings. There is a wide telescreen that looks like it hasn’t been viewed in years, a black swivel chair that is shaped like a giant hand, a 1950’s style Radar Range, a small closet with a single neatly hung astronaut suit, a giant globe, a bust of Plato, two glass discoballs, a stained glass widow of what looks like Jethro Tull (the agriculturist-not the band), a well preserved antique copy of Don Quixote, a few flashing bright red, mostly non-functioning computers and several neatly hung fallout shelter warning signs. The walls are covered with white padding, which surround a large porthole, through which I can see seemingly all the stars of the heavens. But the beauty of the heavens can’t compete with the beauty of the creature to my left.

As I lock onto her, I find myself unable to look away. The long dark hair, those catlike eyes and that smile! I felt the need to say something to her. “Your negligee, it’s on backwards,” I manage to get out.

She blushes as she quickly adjusts her outfit the right way.

I, Kris, lean towards her. “We appear to be on a space station of some kind.I guess the big question is why am I hear and why are you here?”

“Does my presence not please you?” she asks.

I turn closer to her. “No, that’s definitely not the problem. You’re appearance here represents my idea of feminine perfection. But you can’t really be here. I think some alien force has created you for my benefit…or my destruction.”

“I am not here to harm you.”

I stand up in a moment of revelation. “I got it! I’m like Captain Kirk in Gamesters of Triskelion. We’re here to provide amusement for our captors.” I shake my fist in the air and yell at the ceiling. “We’re not going to provide you your entertainment! You hear me?” I notice she’s giggling again and I have to laugh myself. “I can’t believe it. I’m presented with a representation of the greatest example of feminity the species has ever produced and within two minutes I make a lame Star Trek reference. What a dork.” I smack my head.

“Don’t do that” she scolds me reaching for my arm. “I think your speech was sweet.”

“Now I know you can’t be real…This is heavy...I need a minute.”

I go into the room next door and notice it is a washroom. I close the metal door behind me. I splash water on my face and look in the mirror, trying to get a grip on what is happening. I hear a crash behind me and I notice Claudia has smashed her way through the door and is lying on the floor in a heap.

“I thought you were leaving me, mio amore,” she says as I pick up her body and take her to the bed to administer first aid to her wounds.

10 minutes later

By the time I get a damp cloth to what appeared to be serious lacerations on her arms, I notice she is practically healed. In another couple of minutes, she is laughing as she is brushing herself off.

I start to speak to her when I notice a midget scurry through the room and out the side door.
“Did you see that?” I ask.

“See what?”

“That midget.”

“I didn’t see any midget,” she shrugs. “No, no piccolo,” she adds.

“And in the corner of the room. It’s raining! We’re inside a space station and it’s raining!”

She shrugs again.

I start to respond, but can only shrug in response as I turn back to her.

I still can’t compute the logic of the situation. The Claudia Cardinale of 1968 (I still think it’s the 1969 Claudia no matter what she says) can no longer exist. How could this be real?

Apparently sensing my quandry, she takes me by the hand and tells me to close my eyes. I begin to question her, but she shakes a finger at me and tells me once again to close my eyes and imagine. I begin to relax. Images begin flowing freely through my head. It is dark, yet I can see. I see stripes..on the middle of a road. And then I see… Claudia and I are driving. Driving through tunnels. She’s still holding my hand.

“This is pleasant, but what is it?” I ask.

“It’s the city of the future.”

“So, is this a fantasy within a dream within a work of fiction and why are we in black and white?”

“Stop analyzing everything. Your’re cruising through tunnels with 1968 Claudia Cardinale. Just enjoy it.”

After about a minute I ask her how long the trip is going to last. She tells me a few more minutes and I smile and take her advice and enjoy the ride. I still think it’s odd that it’s in black and white, but take her advice to not analyze the situation further.

Five minutes and thirty-seven seconds later, we reappear on the space station and I tell her how much I enjoyed our trip to the future. The fact that the tunnels did not seem to be in any way futuristic was of no importance to me.

She flashes her million dollar smile and asks me what I would like to do now.
I snap my fingers. “I know. You can help me with my critque of the movie Solyaris.”

“Suit yourself. What have you got?” she says.

“Here’s what I have so far. Tell me what you think.” I clear my throat as I pull out my notebook from my back pocket.
Solaris (the book) by Stanislaw Lem is a generally acknowledged Sci-fi classic. The English translation from the Polish that is generally read is by Kilmartin/Cox was disliked by Lem. The first cinematic film adaptation of Solyaris is also generally acknowledged as a classic of art house cinema is Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 film. Lem didn’t like this either. He thought it emphasized the relationships between Kelvin & Hari, Rheya in the book, over the more technological aspects of the film. Solyaris (the Russian film) was often called the Russian 2001: A Space Odyssey (which I agree with), though apparently Tarkovosky didn’t like that film and thought it emphasized technology over human relationships. How about the Stephen Soderberg version of Solaris with George Clooney? Lem didn’t like that one either for the same reason. I’m guessing Tarkovsky wouldn’t have liked it either if he had lived to see it. What do you think so far, Claudia? Claudia?”

As I look up from my paper, I notice Claudia lying on the ground unconscious with an empty bottle of liquid oxygen in her hand.

“Boy, everyone’s a critic.” I say.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Sometime in 1989, Tokyo, Japan

Osamu Tezuku marched into the main office of his production company the same way he always did. Always with a smile on his face and always with a glance at that photograph of his hero. The picture in question had the superimposed cartoon figure of Tinkerbell swooshing her wand of stars over the head of the man underneath her. The man in question wore an expression that showed off a glorious sense of wonder that exhibited no surprise at the magic that could inspire a world that could produce such a glorious fairy, and the childlike twinkle in his eyes said volumes to the fact that reinforced that yes-he could believe in magic.

The man in the picture and Tezuku’s idol was, of course, Walt Disney.
At the bottom of the picture was an autograph which read:

To my dear friend Osamu, whose work I respect beyond words, Walt Disney, 1966.

1966. It was the same year that Walt left this mortal coil for the last time. To Tezuku, that made it more special.

He walked past the picture and took his seat before beginning to survey some of the sketches of his dream project-what he simply referred to as the project.

As he put on his spectacles for a closer inspection of his drawings, his assistant Koto ran up to the desk.

Koto: (breathing heavily) We have big problems Mr. Tezuku!

Tezuku: Calm down Mr. Koto! Here, take a seat.

Koto: (Waiving Tezuku off) It’s the project. Problems with the project. Look at this story!
(Koto hands Tezuku a copy of Variety with an ominous headline.)

Disney Company announces plans for latest project, an original piece called The Lion King.

Tezuku: (Laughing) Is that’s what bothering you? You believe everything you read in the American papers? Don’t you remember? Mr. Michael Eisner ate dinner at my house. This project is collaboration between us and Disney. Kimba the White Lion is my pet creation. It is now being made into The Lion King. It will be a triumph! I’ve labored over this for years. I trust Disney as much as I trust my own family. Shame on you for believing everything you read.

Koto: That’s what I thought too. So I sent Mr. Eisner a telegram. And this is what I got back.
(Koto pulls a telegram out of his pocket and reads it out loud)

Dear Sir:
We never heard of Tezuka nor Kimba.Please do not attempt to contact us again or you will hear from our legal department.
Signed Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, The Walt Disney Company

(Tezuku looks disbelievingly at the telegram before walking to the center of the room.)

Koto: Mr. Tezuku! Mr. Tezuku!

Tezuku: But Mr. Michael Eisner ate sushi at my table last year. He complemented me on my wife and told me how lucky I was to be married to an oriental princess. My daughter gave Mr. Jeffrey Katzenberg a foot massage in my living room.

Koto: Can I get you something Mr. Tezuku? What can I do for you? How can I help you?

Tezuku: (Ignoring Koto’s question) Can this be true? But their sketches have hyenas, mandrills, the same plot, just like ours. Their version has a lion named Simba. That’s almost the same name as Kimba. An evil Uncle. An orphan lion. His father killed, same as ours. Look at this sketch on my desk. It’s Kimba’s father up on the hill. Their sketch in this article is identical to ours except the coloring of the lion. How can they say this Lion King is an original? This must be a mistake. How can they get away with this? I thought America was our friend!!

Koto: This is a force much bigger that the America. This is the Disney Company.

Tezuku: But I…but I would have done it for free. All I wanted was a chance in the twilight of my life to share a small link to…to Walt.

Tezuku fell back to his desk, using the weight of it to keep him from dropping to the ground. He was about to fall when Koto made a move to grab hold of him.
Tezuku pushed Koto away and stood erect. Tezuku’s head began shaking furiously as he closed his eyes. The hands of his grandfather clock in the corner began spinning backwards. When the clock struck twelve, Tezuku eyes popped open. All was silent for a few seconds, before a loud rumbling began to be heard throughout the city.

Koto: My God! We’re having an earthquake!

Tezuku: No my friend. That’s no earthquake.

Koto: What is it? It feels like the whole city is ripping apart!

Koto: I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved since the first time I saw Steamboat Willie. Something that could never ever possibly destroy us.

(As they looked out the window, they saw a 90-foot shirtless black rodent with big black ears and red pants smashing his gloved hands into every Tokyo office building in his path. The creature let out a reptilian wail as it picked up an army tank and threw it towards the Sea of Japan.

Tezuku: (matter of factly) It’s Mickey Mouse.

A band of small children ran up to the monster and began throwing pebbles at it, but the rodent retaliated by spitting out a fireball that turned the boys to ashes. The giant creature began to pound on its chest before heading for the building that housed Tezuku Productions.

The last sight Tezuku saw before a giant yellow shoe came crashing down upon him was Walt’s picture, now fallen to the ground along with Tezuku, the glass within the frame shattered. Tezuku noted Walt’s still noticeable sense of wonder through the broken glass for the last time, causing a single tear to fall from his eye.