Posted in Travel and Diversions

Happy B-Day to Kevin Smith

Kevinsmith3

 

Big fan of Kevin Smith.  His tenacity, his commitment to his friends and fans and his willingness to follow his art no matter what anyone else thinks.

I love most of his movies (Dogma being my favorite and I did like Jersey Girl no matter what everyone else thinks of it.) his comic book work (the Daredevil run was great) and I am a big fan of his podcasts (#1 in my book is his original with his good friend Scott Mosier, Smodcast.)

Happy B day sir, now get busy and make Clerks 3.

Posted in My Views On The Real World

Why The Oscars Don’t Matter, To Me.

oscarOkay the #Oscars So White is a big deal to a lot of people.  Claiming it is a symptom of a larger problem,  maybe it is but I think the overall question is why do the Oscars really matter at all.  It is a bunch of industry insiders, an business that is oversexualized and  hung up on the outward trappings of wealth and power.

Movies can be magical, movies can elevate you to heights you never knew existed.  Films can introduce you to new people, places and ideas that you never cared about and invite you care.  The silver screen can act as transportation to magical and incredible places or sometimes just let you take a few steps in another person’s shoes.

The big screen has the ability to change you both in good and bad ways.  Horror flicks can make you insensitive to others pain and suffering.  Watching westerns sometimes creates an idealistic and/or naive view of American history.  Romantic comedies fabricate an unrealistic view of relationships and sex. Too many science fiction movies can make you unattractive to the opposite sex .  (Kidding of course, it usually comes from a combination of poor hygiene, lack of confidence and the inability to have intelligent conversations without making an obscure pop culture reference which the opposite sex doesn’t get.)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes on a yearly basis performances by actors, the direction given to those actors, the technical and artistic aspects expended to realize those performances into a coherent product and the writers who dreamed up the entire story.  But the Academy Awards do not truly recognize what a movie means to a person.

One of my favorite movies The Karate Kid, was not anywhere near  a nomination for an Academy Award the year it came out.  (Terms of Endearment won in 1984, with the other films nominated being The Big Chill, The Dresser, The Right Stuff and Tender Mercies.)   The Karate Kid story touches me on so many levels mainly because where I was in my life I was clueless about life and girls (basically the same thing to a teenage boy),  I had studied karate at the time so I could see myself in the movie, and everyone at that age feels like they don’t fit in. karate-kid2

Now the training stuff in that movie was outright crap, you do not learn to block a kick or punch by  waxing a car or painting a fence.  Those chores may increase your muscular strength and endurance but they do not teach you to place you hand in the right place at the right time to stop a blow from landing.  But the heart of good martial arts is there; only use martial arts for  defense, balance, focus, concentration and learning to walk before you fly. karate-kidThe Karate Kid taught me that you can learn something from anyone, whether it is a skill, history or what is important in life.  That friendship has nothing to do with age, background or race but about who stood by your side when you are going thru crap.  That skill and knowledge have nothing to do with the clothes (or belt) you are wearing.  Later on in life I have looked at the same movie and realized that everyone has a backstory:  Mr. Miyagi with the loss of a wife, Aliee not wanting to live up to her parents expectations at their country club, even Johnny trying to change is life by turning down a joint when you first see him then rolling one in the bathroom later on.  Any movie that lasts with you for thirty some years is truly a masterpiece, even if it only means that much to one person.

Another filmmaker that will probably never get an Academy Award is Kevin Smith, his movies are full of juvenile jokes,  childish sight gags and  way too much trivia, but at the heart of his movies is a celebration of friendship, love and life.

clerks  The black and white film Clerks may be about working a minimum wage job but it is also about finding and knowing what is important in life and that there are lot of beautiful girls in the world but not all of them will bring you lasagna.  Dogma may have a crap monster, a sanctified golf club, and the late great Alan Rickman, sans genitilia,  but it is also about believing in yourself and raising questioning about faith, god and religion in irreverent but smart fashion.

alan rickman
An Angel Is Ill-equipped

My favorite filmmaker will probably not be recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  I love Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Chasing Army, Red State and even Jersey Girl.  I enjoy his movies, I have laughed and seen things a little bit differently, and in seeing things differently I have changed as a person.   Isn’t that what the movies, and art in general, are truly about?   Art is about the important things in life, not how many awards you do on do not win.   We need more art in this world, art that brings us closer together, art that helps us rage against injustices, art that keeps our sense of wonder alive and movies that display love in all its different shapes and forms.

 

Posted in Travel and Diversions

Promoting My Books Or Not.

your voice

On Tuesday, I decided to blow off my day job, protecting the citizens of the commonwealth, to promote my science fiction books, so I hopped on a train to Red Bank, NJ home to Kevin Smith’s comic book store. I took some of the small posters for Q Runner. This was not my first pilgrimage to a comic book store, in the mid-80’s I had gone to Mile High Comics in Denver which back then was probably the most famous comic store in the country, it being listed in every comic book I ever bought, so now I was off to Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.

secretstash
My intention was to see if I could put up one of the small posters in the store and maybe if the god’s smiled on me get on the AMC show Comic Book Men and promote my book.  The Q Runner poster is up at Blue Line Collectibles, where I get my comics, and a few laying on the freebies tables at South Philly Comics and Comics and More, so it was strategy I had tried before, and met with a modicum of success.

Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash is a great comic book store, the place is well lite, organized logically with plenty of space to move around, and the AC was great on a hot summer day. Working in the store were Mike Zapcic, Bryan Johnson and an unknown staff member. Sitting near the rear counter was Rob Bruce a frequent guest on the TV show. About ten to fifteen customer moved in and out during the twenty minutes I was there so the place was not crowded. The store front was different from the television show, you could not see in from outside and after some post trip internet research I discovered it was changed because of the reality show.

I did ask Mike Zapcic if they had any of the Buddy Christ Statues from the movie Dogma and he briskly told me ‘no never had them, never will’, and he continued with store business. I was a little put off by his terseness at first but then while looking thru the View Askewniverse merchandise I heard him on the phone with two callers. Just from his end of the call it sounded like the people were asking some very asinine questions. One question I am betting was something along the lines of “Is Jay or Silent Bob there?” or “Is Kevin Smith or Jason Mewes there?” To which Mr. Zapcic responded ‘no they are never here’. Another answer I heard was, ‘no sorry I am not your friend because I do not know you’, which I am guessing was something about Facebook. He then had a conversation with some customers and then posed for pictures and joked around with them.

I know I would not be as polite as he was over the phone if people asked me extremely stupid questions when I was trying to get other things accomplished. It was not till I saw Mr. Zapcic doing inventory that the significance of it being Tuesday dawned on me. The next day was Wednesday making it new comics day in the universe. (That might have been why so many slots on the wall were empty of new issues.)

I eventually wandered back to the graphic novels after a quick search thru the bagged and boarded older comic books for some missing stuff in my collection. Brian Johnson (who looks like he lost some weight) and Rob Bruce seemed to be just talking, and by this point I had decided not attempt to promote my book, the store did not appear to have a freebie table, and no bulletin board for local events or announcements. Plus by this time I had the distinct impression that if I asked the question the answer would have been ‘no’. (Not that this is uncommon a store in Philadelphia told me the same thing.)

I found a trade paperback novel I wanted, The Return of Superman, from 1993, a 480 some page book for only $20.00, a good deal anywhere. I also decided to buy two Buddy Jesus postcards, $3.50 a piece (only $1.25 on the Website, so I feel a little cheated)

Buddy_christ

and went to the front counter. Mr. Zapcic was continuing with his inventory work and the other staff member waited on me, I told him I was surprised by the size of the store because it looked smaller from the street but I chalked that up to not being able to see inside.

I left Red Bank a while later taking the train back to Philly, and on the way I came to a couple of conclusions.

1. It must suck to have a reality show at your place of work, especially one where you are in the public eye all the time like in retail when you never know who is going to wander in the front door. (I am sure the money is nice of course), but to be constantly under the microscope like those guys are now, would be more than I would care for. Don’t get me wrong I want my books to sell, heck I would love to be a full time professional writer with my books having a good bit of success (movies, comic books, animation, merchandizing, anyone wants to offer I will gladly jump and on the way up ask how high). But to live in the public eye, even as reality show star does not interest me. Luckily very few writers are recognizable walking down the street. If Spider Robinson walked by me I would never know it. (Some people are out there are saying ‘I have read your stuff A.A., no chance in you becoming famous for writing, you suck.’)

2. I need to just concentrate on writing. I want my books to be good enough that the content sells itself, word of mouth is the most surefire way to sell anything because everyone ,especially readers, want to share good stuff. I will just put my book out there in the universe if someone comes upon it and they like it they will tell someone. Just like I like to promote the podcast, Fatman on Batman, to anyone who is interested in storytelling or creativity, or if they are into travel/history then I tell them to read Bill Bryson. If my stuff is good enough, it will sell itself. (I have made some attempts to promote my books that I have not heard back from yet, if they come thru I will be follow up on them.)

What would I do if I suddenly became independently wealthy, well I would write a lot more.

Mike Zapcic
mikezapcic
Bryan Johnson bryan johnson  Rob Bruce rob bruce

 

 

 

This post then lead to Travel and Diversions:  Walt Disney World’s Wilderness Lodge Lobby   

and Bellows Beach, Windward Side, Oahu