“A” is for “Alien”

“Alien”.  There was a one in three odds that, between 1990 and 1999, had you asked me to name my favorite film – it would be one of these titles: “Alien”, “Blade Runner” or “Brazil”.  Too bad two of the movies starts with the letter “B” – had one of them been “Chinese Box” or “The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and Her Lover” the first three post to the Alphabet Series would have topics conveniently lined up for me.  Back to “Alien”.

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Right. When the movie came had been originally released in 1979, I was nine years old.  This was an era when “Rated R” meant more than “oh, cool” – it was RESTRICTED.  Evil was lurking under the theater seats, oozing from the floor, through your shoes and into your sole  Via your feet.  Naturally.  Fast forward to 1986.  The summer my dad took me my first R-rated movie – which hadn’t been accomplished by buying tickets for a lame PG-13 film and sneaking into the forbidden fruit. “Aliens” was by far one of the most incredible movie-going experiences of my life.  Fifteen years old – a good ten years before the ability to consciously suspend belief. Prime time. “Aliens” was perfect, it was gob-stopping.  Two years later, as my mom was walking out the door for a food run at the grocery store – she asked, “Do you want me to rent a video?”  This had been a new trend with her – to rent movies for me.  “Yes.  Alien.”  She had rented me R-rated movies in the recent past, for some reason – they were highly taboo.  Maybe it had something to do with the past couple of years being a relative nightmare after she filed for divorce.  When she handed the VHS tape to me, outside of praying the VCR was starting a new mylar diet, the only preparation had been whipping up a massive batch of popcorn.  In my bedroom was the VCR – connected to my computer – an Amiga 2000.  It’s 13″ RGB (ooooo….  RGB!) monitor had a secondary NTSC input – for 1987/88, the image quality could only have been improved by a possibly a laserdics.  Nah – too fancy.  Let’s just put a plug out there for BetaMax.

After seeing “Aliens” no less than twenty times (the last viewing was just as powerful as the first), when the title “A L I E N” slowly formed with clever hash marks over an incredible sweeping motion across a planet – I was ready.  From the opening titles until the decision had been made by the crew, long after it had already been made for them, to take a look into what appeared to be a distress call from something on a planet they knew nothing about — the pace was droning, the details had been lacquered and aged onto every surface and action and it was somewhere I could believe was real. Being this viewing had been in the late 1980’s – the CRT monitors, crackling analog video and seemingly no real advanced technology with the exception of artificial gravity – it all didn’t seem out of place.  The awesome grittiness was a fresh and clean look for me, having barely moved on from “Star Wars” and “Star Trek”.

All I knew about the film was the famous chest-bursting scene – and what the alien ended up looking like.  Oh, and the eggs..  I had just assumed that the queen alien already was dead – or, more likely, it hadn’t even come into my thought conveyor belt where the eggs came from.

The sub-plot with one of the characters true intentions blew my mind, and without this facet – the film would have been very much a B-Movie with an A-Movie budget.  I would give a spoiler warning and then dive into this little plot storm of “Alien”, but . why?  Hah.  What is important is the heavy realism of the characters – the look and feel.  The interactions and dialog and class system — it felt real.  Making a story about an intergalactic tug boat, pulling ore from who-knows-where back to earth and coming across a mysterious spaceship and the alien hitchhiker they unknowingly had picked up immediately became believable.  Why does this matter?  From the surface, it was a crap story in a crap setting.  Ridley Scott is a mastermind of detail – largely visual detail. And, his story telling largely is visual – and with “Alien”, the realism catapulted the simple plot into a true captivating story with twists and elements to keep conversation fed for decades.

I was mesmerized by the derelict spaceship with the dead pilot and cargo of eggs. It was obvious, later in the film, what killed the pilot.  The origin of the eggs and why they were in the ship was a mystery.  Had they been cargo? Were they laid by a queen alien after the fact?  Where did they come from?  The alien looked similar to that of the pilot – not exactly completely naturally occurring creatures… This fascination led me to a book which described H. R. Giger’s work before and, mostly, during the making of the film.  Vast amounts of detail for an element which had been almost glossed over.  How effective would have the film been without the input of Giger?  I don’t think the screen time for the derelict ship (from discovery until leaving the planet) lasted more than ten or fifteen minutes. Good idea or blind luck.  Or, both.  Either way, it was perfect – I’m not the only one still thinking about it.  Too bad “Prometheus” was a bowl of cold tripe – the second attempt at it (“Alien: Covenent”) will be hitting my retinas in less than four months.

So, what about the alien?  It was a boring giant insect.

One characteristic a film must possess in order for me to completely get lost in it, and allows me to watch it countless times — is to show me a place I want to be. Or, to at least visit. How does one become an intergalactic truck driver?  Sign me up.  Too bad I didn’t do fantastically in school; maybe I could have snagged the science officer gig.

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Starting a New Year: 2017

Writing isn’t like it used to be.  The ideas (yes, plural) would pop into existence – with the only problem being picking the best one.  Now…  It’s all about looking at the screen for five minutes to squeeze my temple until a useless thought bubbles from forehead pores – and recesses back the moment the pressure is removed.  Idea gone, blog blank.  So, here’s the plan and idea: each day / time I start writing – to through the alphabet and whatever pops into my mind starting with that letter is the topic  There.  Let’s see how that works. (I already know what the first post is going to be about)

lots of not lots

What am I doing? Mostly, I am sitting in a Starbucks in Beverly, Massachusetts, drinking a triple tall Americano that was hot an hour ago.  I used to like to tap words a lot – blithering aimlessly on a keyboard.  Words.  Originally all the typing was into text files on a computer – in the late ’80s and early ’90s.  That faded away; not forgotten.  Blogging passed the uber cool days long after by the time my blog was going on  – which was circa 2005.  It was around for less than two years, unhinged unceremoniously after failing to keep WordPress up to date, leaving the back door unlocked — it got hacked, and became riddled with porn links.  I couldn’t get rid of them! So, I blew it away, assuming the next blog would be BETTER and BIGGER and PERFECTER!  More readers and fame!  Or, maybe it would never get off the ground again.  (that’s my way of saying, “It would never get off the ground again.” Hah.  Five or six years ago, there had been an attempt to rekindle it – but with the wrong approach.  I remembered most of the posts – and rewrote them into works of art.  Resulting in works of stale poo.  Lame and lame.  Died on the vine.  This time around – the blog is going to be just me tapping on a keyboard.  Blithering.  That’s what I am doing and will be: blithering!

2015 : Start

Another year.  Things start; things end.  While 2014 was a good year, it will not be missed.  New Years, I recently decided, is my favorite holiday.  Starting all new – let the game begin; the game of trying to get all the lofty goals the attention they need.  Then, at the end of the year, or whenever the “New Year” thing becomes stale – take a look back on the work to see what it looks like from a bit of a distance.  My 2015 resolution is my hardest yet: to balance out the year.  I tend to focus intently on two or three things – leaving everything else to the side.  Once, I was all into fitness.  Good – but… I didn’t read a book.  Another time, I was all about reading – but not once paid a bill on time.   For starters.  This year – all about some balance.  This will be ultra hard for me.  But, a vague resolutions are sweet – I can bend the intentions by the middle of the year.  On the flip side – it will be easier.  Getting older means time goes by faster, and when time flies – there are less opportunities for becoming bored.  Sweetness.  Anyways.  Welcome, Me, to the new year.  2015.  If it sucks, that’s okay.  I will have the new Star Wars movie to reward me at the end regardless if I did super, or failed.

Long Trail IPA, Long Trail Brewing

Long Trail IPA

Long Trail IPA

Ah, the promising pour.  The glass held up at a shallow 20 degrees after the initial opening of the joy-sluice.  Cloudy, but not entirely.  The head was thin and white – does that mean anything?  ?  I should look that up some time.  Remember, these entries aren’t really REVIEWS… yes, there are ratings – but. the purpose for these posts is to just jot down first impressions of beer.  …that white head always throws me off..  Taste.  It immediately resonates “good”, but for not good reasons.  It reminds me more of a European Hefeweizen.  Yeah, it has that “banana” thing going on – so it wouldn’t surprise me if the brewer loads up on Weissbier yeast.  Dunno.  Decent enough beer – not the best and idea IPA.  The hops are conservative and tamed.  Drinkable.  There – I ended with a positive word.

Rating 12 out of 20.

Limbo IPA, Long Trail Brewing Company

Limbo IPA, Long Trail Brewing Company

Limbo IPA, Long Trail Brewing Company

There are three categories, so far, of IPA.  Malty (aka “swill”), floral and fruity.  Anybody want to know what a ‘fruity’ IPA is?  Does it taste like a banana?  Pineapple/mango juice?  Nope.  To calibrate, try a Limbo IPA.  This is a very good example of a fruity IPA – and like all categories, there are good, meh and bad.  Limbo is a rock-solid ‘good’.  During the pour, you will be impressed by the deep malty color and extremely foamy white head.  To pick at this one, I will focus on the lack of a deep aroma.  The hops do not jump out – at least not in your nose; it makes up for this lacking at the rear of your tongue (yes, I know the “tongue map” is poo).  I appreciate this brew, but it is just not my pint of IPA – although this did make my list for beers that I would easily buy again in the future.

Rating: 14 out of 20

Hoponius Union IPL

Hoponius Union IPL, Jack's Abbey Brewing Company

When I lived in Seattle, there was an advert trying to pawn off the idea of something called an “Indian Pale Lager”.  What the hell is that?  Zero interest.  So, here I am reviewing one.  The radio ad I first heard of this “IPL” was a local brew – maybe Pyramid?  Anyway, this one is from New England.  And, I bought it by mistake – thinking it was just a normal IPA.  After pouring beer, I take the first sip and mull on it while is smiles for a snapshot.  The realization of what I drank came after it was in my mouth, before letting it ride down to th’ gutter to the stomach.  You know…  It was good.  It tastes like a light IPA – light in taste, light in color, but talks to tongues in pure IPA-speak.  Makes for an excellent brew to have outside in the heat –  to give to new hophead recruits.  Very much a repeat drink – two or three will hit the spot.  The only complaint is a lacking of nose entertainment, there just isn’t much aroma.  Another reason why this is a good one to fill a cooler when non-IPA drinkers are present.  I think I will be giving more IPLs a chance in the near furture.

Rating: 14 out of 20