Not My Dogs

pc2019

Poem: Murky

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Dipping my hand into the water,

too opaque to see what is at the bottom,

still willing to go deeper and deeper to get to the core.

It’s the center of it that keeps me going,

that propels me forward,

even through the terror of the unknown and the screams

ringing in my ears from those long dead.

It is the weathered organ inside me,

the one beating in my chest,

half the tempo that reacts when I shout at my enemies,

laugh with my friends, and cry to thirsty strangers.

My fingers grip onto metal cups of slimy liquid,

a nod to a life not long ago that understands getting

cut with a blade hurts like hell.

Beyond the youthful appearance I have,

magnified with injections, creams, and magic potions,

lines of chalky residue to feel alive one more hour

I snort up my nose.

The stories I ignore and their forgotten meanings,

it won’t be the lesson learned that sticks

to the bottom of my foot as it digs in to the sand.

Not even the creature with sharp teeth,

biting intruders deter me from moving around,

it won’t, it never will because my wounds have

already healed.

2019

 

 

 

 

The More You Know, Right?

Flash Fiction: Mechanical Fly

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When I was spotted, she caught a glimpse of my shiny legs supporting my metal body.  I remained still, a mechanical fly, halfway between her dream and reality.  I had been instructed to make this off-white walled room my home, but shortly after entering through the tiny gap between the window and its ledge, she leapt from her bed.  I meant no harm.  I wasn’t carrying any diseases.  I was here to warn, but this girl, smaller than the average child, chased me.  Her arms swung in front of her, and each time her fingers splayed apart, I knew her only purpose, at that moment, was to kill me.  It was another futility in a long string of futile attempts to get rid of me.  Her effort would go unrewarded, but by the time she realized this, it would be too late for her to go back and want my help.  If only she had let me buzz around her head a few times and hum into her ear.  If only she had allowed me to bite her on the neck and insert the serum into her vein.  If only her parents let her hand drawn flies be hung on the wall.  She might have not turned into an angry little thing, swatting at me with uncoordinated hands, not realizing what she was doing made her weaker.  I landed on the wall, blended into it, and kept still.  She waited, eyes alert.  It would come soon enough that she would learn about abandonment.  I was the only one with the knowledge to keep her alive.  If only I could appear from behind the door.  I’m a human just like her, only smarter but the same amount to lose.

2019

 

First November Quotes

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2019

UFC 244: Masvidal vs. Diaz

At the last minute I decided to watch UFC 244.  A part of me felt I could wait until the fight ended between Masvidal and Diaz to, but then I also felt I only live once.  Who knows if this kind of fight would ever happen again?  It’s not every day UFC puts on a main bout that isn’t a title fight in New York City at Madison Square Garden where the winner gets the BMF belt.  The attendance was 20,143 and the total revenue was $6,575,996.  The Fight of the Night went to Stephen Thompson vs. Vicente Luque and Performance of the Night went to Kevin Lee and Corey Anderson.  They all received $50,000 each.  UFC 244 was the 500th live event.  I did not watch the early preliminary or preliminary fights, but included the outcomes below.

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Early Preliminary Card

Katlyn Chookagian (Catchweight) defeated Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision where all three judges scored it 29-28.

Lyman Good (Welterweight) defeated Chance Rencountre by TKO punches in third round

Hakeem Dawodu (Featherweight) defeated Julio Arce by split decision where two judges scored 29-28 and one judge scored 28-29.

Preliminary Card

Corey Anderson (Light Heavyweight) defeated Johnny Walker by TKO punches in first round.

Shane Burgos (Featherweight) defeated Makwan Amirkhani by TKO punches in third round.

Edmen Shah (Middleweight) defeated Brad Tavares by KO head kick in first round.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik (Heavyweight) defeated Andrei Arlovski by KO punch in first round.

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I timed this perfectly as I had about 45 minutes to wait until the Main Card.  Once it started, it went pretty quickly with the first fight ending in the first round and the one between Masvidal and Diaz ending unexpectedly.  All I can say is I’ve seen worse, but people need their eyes to see.  I’m not going to go in depth and describe all rounds between the fighters.  As I was watching this, I took short notes and to get this posted before it turns November 3rd, I’m sort of shortening this out.  Plus, I’m tired and don’t really want to go in depth right now.

Main Card

The first fight between Kevin Lee (Welterweight) and Gregor Gillepsie was short and crazy in the fact Gillespie was lights out for a while.  The fight ended 2.47 minutes into the first round by KO head kick.  Kevin Lee was the winner.

The second fight between Derrick Lewis (Heavyweight) and Blagoy Ivanov went all three rounds with a split decision.  The judges scored all differently with 30-27, 28-29, and 29-28.  Derrick Lewis was the winner. 

The third fight between Stephen Thompson (Welterweight) and Vicente Luque went all three rounds with a unanimous decision.  Luque took more punches than a speed bag and kept going.  He had a face made of steel.  Two judges scored 30-26 and one judge scored 29-27.  Stephen Thompson was the winner.

The fourth fight between Darren Till (Middleweight) and Kelvin Gastelum went all three rounds with a split decision.  The judges scored all differently with 27-30, 29-28, and 30-27. Darren Till was the winner. 

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And now to the fight everyone came to see either through PPV or was lucky enough to score a seat at Madison Square Garden.  The BMF title was up for grabs.  Who was it going to be?  West Coast fighter from Stockton, California or East Coast fighter from Miami, Florida.  After the two fighters arrived into the arena and then the ring, the fight started and never got full momentum that it should due to Jorge Masdival sticking close to Nate Diaz during the first three rounds.  Masdival showed the reason he belonged in the Welterweight division as a well-rounded fighter.  Diaz was bloodied up in the first round, but he kept fighting and surviving during the next two rounds.  Each time Diaz was punched by Masdival, the cut above his right eye kept opening more and bleeding all over.  I told myself Diaz has to turn things up and huge in these last two rounds, but I never got a chance to see it.  The doctor looked at Diaz’s eye again and stopped the fight.  So in other words, Jorge Masdival defeated Nate Diaz by TKO doctor stoppage after the third round was finished and before the fourth one began.  The booing could be heard from the crowd and I was a little surprised.  I’ve seen worse on fighters continue, but without workable eyes it’s hard to fight.

The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) presented the BMF belt to Masdival.  Masdival hugged it out with Diaz.  They both agreed in separate quick interviews by Joe Rogan that there would another fight.  I’m sure there will be and hope that Diaz can come back stronger and not take so many shots to the face and legs.  Masdival definitely wobbled and hurt him.  Masdival is quick on his feet and powerful with his hands.  Okay, there’s my quick recap so I could get this in before Sunday hits. 

Good night, everyone.

2019

Movie Review: Joker (2019)

Quote from Joker by Murray Franklin:

“And finally, in a world where everyone thinks they could do my job, here’s a guy who thinks if you just keep laughing, it’ll somehow make you funny. Check out this joker.”

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Of a Different Kind

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I had been meaning to write a blog about River and Joaquin Phoenix, but wasn’t sure how to angle it. I was going to compare and contrast the differences between them as actors. The greatest roles of River Phoenix were in Stand by Me, My Own Private Idaho, and Dogfight. Even if he had lived past his early 20s, I don’t think he would have been at the same caliber of Joaquin Phoenix in his later years. The greatest roles of Joaquin Phoenix were in To Die For, Return to Paradise, Gladiator, Quills, The Master, Her, and now Joker. This leads me into who played the best Joker. I can’t comment in depth because I’ve only seen three other versions played by Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto. I hear the cartoon version voiced by Mark Hamill is well liked. If I were to choose among the four of them, I would put them in the pecking order of Joaquin Phoenix, Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, and Jared Leto. I’m sure many people will disagree with me, but I hope to back up my decision throughout this review and for sure near the end of it.

A Month Later

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It took me a month to watch Joker in the theater. I was a little hesitant, thinking it wouldn’t be all that watchable despite me liking Joaquin Phoenix, and good thing I finally did. Apart from the superb acting and character progression of Arthur Fleck, the cinematography, production design, and story made for an absolute near perfect watching experience. Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of Fleck into Joker was a slow build, revealed layer by layer, until the heightened ending. There was a natural fluidity to it. I haven’t watched a movie for a while where it got my attention from opening scene and didn’t let up until the credits rolled. Unless you were the guy sitting close to me who fell asleep during it, Joker was equally dramatic, criminal, and thrilling. If you’re wondering how much this movie has made in the box office, so far, it’s made 872 million worldwide and 283 million within the USA.

Let’s Go Behind the Scenes
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Joker is a Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Films production along with Joint Effort, Bron Creative, and Village Roadshow Pictures as the listed production companies. It is directed by Todd Phillips, screenplay by Todd Phillips and Scott Silver, and characters created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson. The executive producers includes Richard Baratta, Bruce Berman, Jason Cloth, Joseph Garner, Aaron L. Gilbert, Walter Hamada, Anjay Nagpal, and Michael E. Uslan. The major cast includes Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, Robert De Niro as Murray Franklin, Zazie Beetz as Sophie Dumond, Frances Conroy as Penny Fleck, Brett Cullen as Thomas Wayne, Shea Whigham as Detective Burke, Bill Camp as Detective Garrity, Marc Maron as Ted Marco, Glenn Fleschler as Randall, Leigh Gill as Gary, Douglas Hodge as Alfred Pennyworth, Dante Pereira-Olson as Bruce Wayne, Carrie Louise Putrello as Martha Wayne, Sharon Washington as Social Worker, Greer Barnes as Haha’s Clown, and Ray Iannicelli as Haha’s Clown. The MPAA rating is R for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images. It has a running time of 2 hours and 2 minutes. Joker is about a man whose dreams of becoming a great comedian in Gotham City become a reality, but it comes at a cost where his personal life spirals out of control and the society he lives in changes before his eyes.

Watch the Trailer

The Characters and Plot Summary
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The year is 1981. Cellphones are not a glued to everyone’s hand because they didn’t exist until 1983. The location is Gotham City. The two main characters of interest is Arthur Speck (Joaquin Phoenix) and his mother, Penny Speck (Frances Conroy). Arthur helps support his mother by working for a company that specializes in hiring clowns for a fee. He is in charge of advertisement, as well as being one of the clowns. He find moderate success as a clown until his condition which makes him laugh uncontrollably and quite annoying to those around him overwhelms him. He finds comfort in watching Murray Franklin host his own talk show with his mother. To pass the time, he fantasizes about a better life amidst the high unemployment and poverty rate. His mother has her plan to get out of their run down apartment and he has his through his comedic acts. His ambition doesn’t match his talent on his first attempt, but he keeps moving forward despite certain parts of his life moving backwards. It leads a changed mental state and is put into a situation that is the catalyst for his transition to “the Joker.” As many in Gotham City condemns the lawlessness including Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen), there are others who support this vigilante justice. As Arthur tries to piece together his childhood, he finds answers in the mental hospital called Arkham he once stayed as a patient. He gets additional answers from Thomas Wayne and gets the recognition he has longed for since he was old enough to say a bad joke. After practicing his routine for the show, he begins his transformation into “the Joker.” On the way to the studio, Arthur is greeted by Gotham citizens dressed as clowns with similar facial makeup as he wore when he worked at Haha’s and thumbs this nose at the police who try to control the restless citizens. Arthur wows the studio audience. His message only increases support among the citizens and they band together to honor and protect him. He has finally been recognized and that is enough to last him a lifetime.

Wide, Deep, and High

joker3I mentioned before the cinematography in this movie is insanely well executed. The first shot that caught my attention by Lawrence Sher was of Arthur in Arkham that begins when he is talking to the worker in charge of client records. The second is the shot of Arthur on the stairs in full Joker costume and make up. The third is the shot of Arthur on the car. The strength of the scenes also involves the relationships between the characters (loving, awkward, and sinister), the feeling of authenticity in the dialogue, and the production design is seeped in a mishmash of colors from Arthur’s clothes to the curtains on the Murray Franklin show. Besides trash littering Gotham sidewalks and streets, Mark Friedberg is able to turn NYC into Gotham without appearing overdone in terms of the production design. The transition of Arthur Fleck into “the Joker” is something I enjoyed watching, as well as Robert De Niro as the cocky Murry Franklin.

Comparing the Jokers

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I would put Joaquin Phoenix in front of Jack Nicholson because I prefer a less cartoon looking Joker. He also showed the “pre-Joker” having somewhat of a conscience before he completely turned into him. Based on the previous sentence, I gravitate less to a comic book movie and more of a character study of a few comic book characters if given the choice. Joaquin Phoenix’s laugh was the best because at first it was due to his physical disorder, then it turned into genuine laughter, and by the end of the movie he was able to control it (probably due to the drugs).  The reason I put Heath Ledger in front of Jack Nicholson although they are very close together is because he played a self injurious psychopath that was not in the least bit charming and was a great nemesis to Gotham City. He was more of a Joker that played mind games instead of carrying Joker cards in his pocket. It is clear Heath Ledger as “the Joker” thought of the citizens of Gotham as mice, exterminating as many as possible in one bang, and that was his greatest gift to the audience. Jack Nicholson comes in at third, but his version is basically on the same level as Heath Ledger. While it was more cartoon like, his version was a nod to the lowly criminal who rises up the ranks to rule the underworld, which I enjoyed. Jared Leto comes in last. While I did not think his performance was bad as “the Joker,” it was least nuanced and memorable. I listened to the laughs out of the four and I ranked them the same way: Phoenix, Ledger, Nicholson, and Leto. The bottom line is where many preferred the mysteriousness of “the Joker” in The Dark Knight, I preferred the one with one foot in realism and the other foot in fantasy.

Overall Evaluation

evaluationWatching a troubled introvert with social anxiety break out out of his shell and become someone else and not necessarily better, but different is why I recommend Joker for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance alone. The various subject matter highlighted throughout the movie was not preachy but present. Mental illness, different social classes, and poverty exists in Gotham as it does in every country in the world. If it was too realistic and serious for some viewers, so be it. This is what I liked about it. For better or worse, Joker commented on issues such as mob violence, personal delusion, and blaming others. If you don’t care for Joaquin Phoenix as an actor, then probably this movie isn’t for you. This movie is not for kids nor it is for comic book or superhero fanatics looking for a great fight against good and evil as found in any of the Batman movies. While a few scenes were graphic in violence and blood, let’s face facts, none of “the Joker” portrayals over the years is “good.” The Joker character whether played with nuance or not so much is still an antisocial freak of nature who doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself and the chaos he inflicts on others. We shouldn’t be remotely interested in this type of killer, but on a movie theater screen he’s sure a delight to watch especially when he dances.

Pisaries Creator’s Rating

I rate Joker Four Fingers and One Thumb of Near Perfect at 97%.

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2019

 

Forbes Quotes

pc2019

Poem: Mosquito

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Oh, how you buzz near my ear,

pesky little thing in my life when I’m trying to relax.

A complete nuisance, not small enough to ignore,

and what an ugly little thing you are.

Beyond any kind of purposeful meaning,

you are too annoying to keep alive,

but first I must find you again.

Oh, how fast you fly away from me,

after injecting your proboscis into my neck,

the bloodsucker that you are,

the disease spreader that creates suffering

to my brothers and sisters.

You will not continue on your warpath,

I will make sure of it once I stop itching

your poison embedded into my arm.

Oh, how my feet will dance around your death,

faster and faster as my excitement grows,

for I know you have your own

brothers and sisters, as you weren’t the

last of your kind.

But, until they show their ugly little bodies

and buzz around my head, I will rejoice

in knowing there is one less troublesome

pest around.

2019

 

 

Documentary Recommendation: Free Solo (2018)

Quote by Alex Honnold from Free Solo

I think it’s the best thing in life to be able to take the one thing you love the most and have it, like, work out that you can make a living that way.”

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Executive Producers: Tim Pastore, Matt Renner, Carson Hood, Laurie MacDonald, Stefan Sonnenfeld, and Walter F. Parkes

Directors: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelvi

 Cast: Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin, Cheyne Lempe, Mikey Schaefer, Sanni McCanless, Dierde Wolownick, Peter Croft

Cast as Archive Footage: John Bachar, Derek Hersey, Sean Leary, Dan Osman, and Dean Potter

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language

Running Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes

*******

This documentary is about Alex Honnold, a free solo climber, who scales rocks for a living.  As one’s upbringing affects most people when they become adults, Alex is no different.  His mother left an impression on him where the brightest is only the best.  He was not short of intelligence as he was accepted into Berkeley for civil engineering, but university life wasn’t for him.  He dropped out and lived frugally out of his van until it broke down and bought another one in 2007.  This was the start of his climbing endeavors where he free soloed Yosemite’s Astroman and Rostrum that same year.  In 2012, he was interviewed by 60 Minutes and set a new record for climbing a part of El Capitan.  After he made the decision to free solo El Capitan in 2017, you watch how his mental ability and physical prowess support and betray him.  You find out the results of his MRI and the dangers free soloing El Capitan.  If he succeeds, he will be the first.  If he fails, he will fall and die.  While he clearly spends a lot of time at Yosemite as he’s climbed El Cap, Half Dome, and Mt. Watkins, it only takes one misstep to ruin his day.  He’s an interesting athlete and his nomadic way of life suits him.   It’s a mesmerizing entry into a part of Alex’s life.  I learned more about rock climbing and Yosemite.

I rate Free Solo Four Fingers and One Thumb.

Near Perfect at 97%.

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2019

 

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