Sunday, June 25, 2017

Suitmation II: the Designated Kaiju Heel

Suitmation II: the Designated Kaiju Heel 
by William D. Tucker

Flesh in flight
selling the full body burn
I'm gettin' beyond body,
comrades,
don't know what form I'll take
when they cut me outta this ruin of foam rubber'n'fiberglass,
figure I'll secrete a new monster-get up
since my lungs have taken in all the toxic fumes,
my cells'll take up the recipe,
suit up on command by force of will-a new attraction!
Time to renegotiate my contract.
Shit!

You'll mostly know me
if you actually read the credits
as the designated heel
fatespun by a slumming science fiction novelist
bought off by the studio
rammed through the literary acquisitions dept. by executive decree
bit of a shakeup in the trades

So here I am burning alive
obliterated by the reptilian light of justice
friend of all the children,
defender of the earth,
I don't even get to play the whole death scene, natch,
gotta dress it up optically
close-ups of rigged to blow miniature devil horns lizard Mussolini head-

I could do that all myself
Why won't they let me go full Method?
I could be the Rod Steiger of kaiju designated heels,
make my own face burst into flame by force of sense memory!
Ha!

Not to mention the sound effects need rerecording
but that's me in the suit rolling around on fire, brother!
no bullshittin',
light me up.
I played the full body burn
100% cousin!
probably almost died,
do it again in an atomic second.

I'd die, if it sold the scene,
even if the press would suck.

Ignite my ass,
drape me in detonating cord like Christmas lights,
fill the sky blue painted backdrop with my molded foam rubber remains,
cousin,
I'd find a way to reincarnate.
Not to mention the immortality achieved in the hearts and minds of fans worldwide!

Death
the ultimate overrated zero-biggie.
We should never fear to serve the cackling fates
of B-movie studio mandates.
Ha!
-July 2017

Copyright 2017 by William D. Tucker. All rights reserved. Used with permission. 


Friday, June 23, 2017

Hopper

Hopper 
by William D. Tucker

1.
White light against a plaster wall
Looking with my back turned.
Window is the vacancy of intersection.
A perspective on one aspect of the jagged upper texture
There is pointing and then there are jabs from the buildings.
You sit there, white light on your back.
The room is so suffused with cold, clear light.
Nothing is hidden yet nothing is revealed in the cold, clear light.
We speak of matters with a speech that the Observer does not render exactly
In the rendering, we become a pantomime.
Nowhere above and beyond this room,
So filled with light,
Can we ever speak truly of the vacant point of intersection.
Who has ever spoken before the cold, clear light suffused this room,
How was it even possible?
It isn't blinding, it isn't sudden, in fact it lacks all flourish or sensationalism.
The cold, clear light simply is, and it is in a most unavoidable way.
Nothing hidden, nothing revealed.
Looking with my back turned.

2.
Drink. Purchase. Sitting. Another drink/purchase.
Routine of the room of the cold, clear light.
Papers. Organize. Read. Papers. Sort. Prioritize.
This is the work of the room of the cold clear light.
Pillows. Laughing. Porch. Train car. Outdoors. Indoors.
This is the room of the cold, clear light.
Green, beige, red, blue, yellow, purple:
These stand out in strange new ways beneath the cold, clear light.

3.
He wished to communicate sunlight on the side of a building.
Many received his communication.
Others received many other things besides.
Drink. Routine. Cold. Clear. Light.
"More real than real" as one person put it.
Critical response: good, suffused with the cold, clear light.
He did not try to explain, except for elaborate designs and plans.
Many view. Experience an array of emotions.
There is a look of awareness at the science and rigor of construction.
Science/rigor/effort is reduced to "emotional response."
Cold, clear light becomes invisible.
"I get a sense of loneliness," one person says.
"This makes me feel a certain way," says another.
Rigor, effort, construction, science subsumed by "emotion."
Opinion. Subjective. I like. I think. I feel.
Drink. Routine. Cold. Clear. Light.
Looking with my back turned, I see them turning away having observed,
felt, thought, and processed very briefly the offering before them.

4.
Plans. Construction. Intersecting lines of purpose.
The science and the rigor necessary to achieve that specific effect.
"I want to communicate sunlight on the side of a building."
Result: opinions.
I think. I feel. Maybe. I like. I did not like.
I am approached for moments, perhaps, having extensively researched, practiced, and calculated myself.
Moments.
The rigor disappears. Lines of intersecting purpose are softly, gently smudged into pleasant, distinct blurs of opinion.
Invisible. Cold. Clear. Light.

5.
Opinion passed.
Return of routine.
Beyond initial foray into understanding.
Drink. Office. Papers. Organize. Dance. Sunbathe.
Analysis:
Cold, clear light becomes visible perceptible
Intersecting lines of purpose rise to the surface.
"I can see the wires."
Repetition of analysis.
Rigor and science unearthed
Notebooks are thumbed through
Paradigm shift/analysis again:
Cold, clear light hides nothing and reveals nothing.
Analysis:
"In this place there are fewer, wealthier people. No one has any memory of the past. Everyone is prosperous, satisfied, happy, and no one quite wants to remember how it got that way."
Paradigm shift/analysis again:
"He is expressing a deeply ambivalent attitude towards his subject matter. The elements of the voyeuristic collide with an overwhelming sense of the privacy of each person's universe. Ultimately, the voyeuristic wins out, because, alas, the end result is the work itself. He could not resist looking into the realms of privacy and then sharing what he saw with others."
Paradigm shift/analysis again:
"It is the portrayal of man's environment as supremely indifferent that wins out over everything else. His settings are neither threatening nor comforting, destructive nor supportive, good nor evil. His humans, likewise, have learned to dwell in this environment with all harmony by becoming creatures of supreme indifference themselves."
Analysis. Results ad infinitum. Each analysis different.
Return of opinion.
Opinion refined.
Opinion/analysis synthesis.
Still opinion.
Cold, clear light hides nothing and reveals nothing.
-February-April 2003

Copyright 2003 by William D. Tucker. All rights reserved. Used with permission. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Suitmation I: Body-lag (one more red alert)

Suitmation I:
Body-lag (one more red alert)
by William D. Tucker

Not quite in synch
Lapsing into ‘toonish-ness,
Realisic detailing sloughing off
Being reborn into some mecha anime
Gotta flail about, undergo psychosis, trauma of first blood
Before I find my foot-work, my mind-work,
So sorry for all the rubbled buildings, and screaming-angsty monologues of self-recrimination, ya’ll!

I know it’s tedious as fuck.

Just one more red alert
And it’ll be nothing but focused devastation
From here on in,
Here on out.

Copyright 2017 by William D. Tucker. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Friday, June 16, 2017

living skeleton actor fuck (7/24/15 version)


living skeleton actor fuck
by William D. Tucker

role puts flesh and guts and blood on me
it used to make me feel complete
now it makes me feel heavy, arbitrary, old,
like I was never quite here

it’s fuckin’ weird

Because
I have all the evidence in the world
that I was here
never really went away
never gave up
but, uh, I dunno.

the feeling inside
does not change

a lot of work,
a lot of awards,
a lot of love from all over the world
but it’s, uh, it’s definitely a king of shreds and patches kinda deal

yeah . . .

. . . multiple past personas inhabiting my body at an advanced age . . .
OVERCROWDING OF PERSONAS
My head is thick with Personas-I won’t lie . . .

but for my next project
very stripped down
just the bones
black box theatre
no vocal chords, lips, tongue, lungs,
none of that.
maybe just have the air conditioning cranked up to the max
with, like, the script in front of the vent
breeze will lift the text off the page
let the words whisper right through me . . .

heh,
won’t that be something?
-May-July 2015

Copyright 2015 by William D. Tucker. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Finding My Own Way to the One-Fifty

Finding My Own Way to the One-Fifty 
by William D. Tucker

I felt selfish praying to Jesus for eternal life.

Christ is an anti-materialistic visionary born and nurtured in a pre-capitalistic society long ago,
offering immortality
to anyone who is willing to mouth words
while striking a theatrical posture of prayer,
and I'm contemplating all this,
and I just think,

Nope.

The Son of God is just not up to negotiating with millions of humans,
the products of terminal capitalism,
raised in the sure belief that anyone, anything,
everyone, everything,
is for sell for cold hard cash.
Christ clearly does not understand this,
especially when one considers his willingness to hand out immortality as a reward for amateur theatrics.

I refuse to take advantage of someone in that position.
Even if millions of my fellow earthlings did it with nary a twitch of conscience.
I'm made of sterner stuff.
I refuse to take advantage of the helpless, the hopeless, the idealistic,
I won't go out like that.

Instead,
I offered the Prince of Peace a fair trade:
a complete run of Doom Patrol vol. 2 nos. 1-87
including
Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad Special no. 1
Doom Patrol Annual no. 1
Doom Force Special no. 1
Doom Patrol Annual no. 2
-the entire, eccentric transitional run of the perennial DC Comics cult classic,
stretching from 1987 to 1995,
spanning important transformations within the comics industry,
encompassing the writing careers of Paul Kupperberg, Grant Morrison, and the criminally underrated Rachel Pollack,
and artists such as Richard Case, Ted McKeever, Erik Larsen, Steve Lightle.
You get to see the flailing post-Crisis metamorphosis of DC Comics giving birth to the highly influential Vertigo Comics imprint-I could go on about this shit for months.
Doom Patrol vol. 2. Complete. Very Fine to Fine Condition, professionally graded. Bagged and boarded and in one longbox,

in exchange

for a one-hundred fifty year extension to my Hayflick Limit.

Look:
Immortality has no appeal for me.
In addition to my already stated moral objection to taking advantage of an unequal negotiating partner,
I cite Parkinson's Law: "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion."
Limitations inspire creativity.
Immortality inspires decadence, infinite ambition, boredom, outrageous acts.
Immortality is cancer of the soul.
Bottom line:
you put a restless, brilliant soul like me in an infinite situation,
I'll remake it in my image,
top to bottom,
heaven to hell,
all powers of all realities overthrown,
God, Satan, Buddha, etc.-all slain by this left hand.
And I'm right-handed.
No big thing to me.
Boredom has always plagued me.
Hierarchical power structures, traditions, governments, tribalism, localism, globalism, capitalism, religions
all fill me with loathing, contempt,
hideous ambitions to sabotage them, bring them all crashing down,
so that I can be king shit of turd mountain!

. . . and then spend my reign looking over my shoulder for the next up-and-comer.

Fuck, man,
who needs that stress?
Not me.

I just need another one-hundred fifty years to learn Japanese, read all the untranslated manga of Osamu Tezuka, watch the complete cinema of Akira Kurosawa without subtitles, and then learn Russian, and read the complete works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky in the original language.

That's it.

Maybe complete my collections of Eclipse Comics,
especially those early English localizations of manga classics like Kamui, and Area 88,
re-read Tim Truman's Scout and Scout: War Shaman,
get lost all over again in Jack Kirby's original run on Fantastic Four,
spin those Stevie Wonder and Devo records a few more times-
I'd fill out the stray hours, no worries about that.
Just need that extra one-fifty to get me over.

Christ heard my offer,
looked at the longbox askance,
said unto me, "Dude. DC Comics sucks. Marvel knows what's up. I mean, did you see that movie of Suicide Squad? Or Batman v. Superman? I mean ..."
And here the Redeemer couldn't even bring himself to speak anymore of what was vile to him,
"No,"  he continued, "just . . . keep this for yourself-you've put enough time into this collection, obviously, and, you know, just take the immortality deal. All right?"

I gritted my teeth.

Christ said, "Look. Everybody gets the same deal. Okay? I cut this separate deal with you-then everybody's gonna want their own custom deal ... do you know how many people that is? On the planet? Dude. Believe me: I know people are selfish, uh, self-serving, uh, you know-people back in my day ... they were people much like now, evolution don't turn over that quick!"
Christ chuckled in exasperation,
"I feel you on the whole trouble with immortality thing, but . . . I dunno what to do about all that. I thought, um, like, people . . . would be grateful? Is that what I thought? I feel like a . . . like super-naive saying that out loud ... but isn't eternal life enough? No, of course not, everyone needs their, their separate special deal-"

And here Christ just threw up his arms, made a pfft sound with his lips,
and I said, "No. It's fine. I just-you know."

"No," Christ said, "I get it. You want a special deal. Everyone wants a special deal. I get it."

"No, I mean-I don't understand the DC Comics hate-but I get the rest of it."

Christ's face worked like he was about to say more, but then he just shook his head, made a dismissive gesture with his hand,
shook the dust from his feet,
strode away into the grueling afternoon heat.

Okay. I felt like kind of an asshole.
But then again,
I'm kinda glad I didn't have to give up my Doom Patrol vol. 2 collection.
It rewards careful reading and re-reading,
get these books the fuck out of the bags and boards,
study them like a new gospel,
find my own way to that one-fifty ... those Grant Morrison scripts run deep.
Many riches and insights hidden away within, between, under, above those panels.
-May, June 2017

Copyright 2017 by William D. Tucker. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW: ARRIVAL (2016)

Arrival
Based on “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang

Starring
Amy Adams
Jeremy Renner
Forest Whitaker
Michael Stuhlbarg
Tzi Ma
Mark O’Brien

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Screenplay by Eric Heisserer
Music by Johan Johannsson
Cinematography by Bradford Young
Edited by Joe Walker


“Don’t let it end this way…”
-Klingon Chancellor Gorkon’s (David Warner) dying words in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

“Holy fuck . . .”
-Ian (Jeremy Renner) in the film Arrival (2016)

A woman, a new mother (Amy Adams) speaks to us in poetry about time, and loss, and mortality. We see a life in fast forward-birth to death-a young daughter’s life cut short, in fact, leaving a divorced, bereaved mother to pick up the pieces and soldier forward with her life as a college professor. She is absorbed into her daily routine, as she walks through a university common area where students and staff cluster around a giant flatscreen. When she gets into the lecture hall, most of her students are absent, and those that are present are glued to their screens. She asks what’s up. A student answers by requesting the professor to tune the flatscreen to a news channel …

Strange objects-designated ‘shells’ by the US government-manifest in the skies over twelve human nations all across the Earth. They have no visible means of propulsion, and emit no waste products measurable by Earthling science. The shells look like slices off some titanic, impossibly hard alien fruit, or maybe the shavings off some monstrous carving. They just hang in the sky, defying all our physics, no doubt provoking hack cable news pundits to make references to H.G. Wells,  the Sword of Damocles, maybe out-of-context (mis)quotations from the Bible, especially the Book of Revelations.

One of the twelve shells has touched down in Montana. The US Army mobilizes to throw up a security/quarantine perimeter around the alien object. A secret effort is made to attempt to communicate with whatever intelligence lies within the shell ...

Soon enough, the woman from the cryptic opening is further delineated within her professional context: Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) of the US Army gets in touch with linguist and college professor Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), whose mastery of human languages in both theory and practice makes her a vital asset to the US’s Forever Wars on Terror. Colonel Weber, abruptly visiting her office in civvies with an armed escort, makes a terse, complimentary reference to their previous collaboration involving translations from Farsi: “You made short work of those insurgent videos.” Dr. Banks says, “You made short work of those insurgents.” Her solemn tone evokes a sense of betrayal-she didn’t sign on to be a cog in a killing machine. But when Colonel Weber offers her a chance to work on translating what may be an extraterrestrial language-the faltering initial gambit of First Contact between humanity and an intelligent alien species-she jumps at the chance.

Dr. Banks is, after some runaround by the government, inducted into a secret operation to communicate with the alien beings inside the shells. Banks is paired with Ian (Jeremy Renner) an astrophysicist. They are overseen by Weber and the deeply suspicious, but intellectual, CIA agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlbarg). Dr. Banks and Ian are paired up to work on the problem of communication with extraterrestrials from the differing perspectives of language and mathematics. After some initial discussion of the differences between the soft science of linguistics and the hard science of numbers, Dr. Banks and Ian, consummate professionals who respect each other, get to work on the essential question to be posed to the aliens: “What are you doing on Earth?”

Meanwhile, human societies lose their shit. What’s left of it. Especially here in the USofA: food riots; mass suicides by a religious cult; the National Guard is deployed to maintain order through force; conspiracy mongering by online socially mediated echo chambers stokes fear and distrust of science; talking heads of corporatist Neoliberal media outlets churning out sensationalist pseudo-scientific talking head chatter dilute the information ecology; and, through it all, the very worst human instincts are aided and abetted by online right-wing, Neo-Fascist, and white supremacist disinformation ops. Ignorance, fear, anti-intellectualism, nationalism, racism, and late stage capitalist distortion of reality for infotainment, profit, and fuel purposes derange the human species’ collective capacity for communication and collaboration. Suspicion is also generated by the secretive efforts by national governments to keep their efforts to communicate with the shells under wraps.

Dr. Banks and Ian feel the pressure from Weber and Halpern to force results by cutting corners on scientific rigor within the security culture bubble thrown up to maintain US supremacy, even as other nations compete to be the first to crack the alien riddle. China, led by the hawkish General Shang (Tzi Ma), is the primary rival to the US. Nuclear armed, paranoid nation states all in thrall to doctrines of national supremacy, all trying to be first to decide whether to slaughter the aliens or forge a way to the negotiation table. It’ll all work out in the end-won’t it?

Director Villeneuve crafts a sci-fi film as visually and sonically rigorous and mysterious as Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, while weaving  in human emotions of loss, longing, wonder, despair, paranoia, anger, hatred,  and desperation. This is science fiction which is grounded in the central performance of Amy Adams, with the special effects as a support, contra Kubrick’s masterwork which casts human beings as specks within the cosmos. Humanity, however imperfect, has to reckon with its own agency as citizens of the cosmos in Arrival, whereas in 2001 humanity is at the whims of vast, alien powers manipulating our evolutionary history for unknowable purposes.

A major theme is the peril of communication between past and future both within ourselves as individual sentient beings with complex memories, and on the level of a human planetary society making a faltering first attempt at hailing an utterly alien intelligence and the redefinition of human identity that entails. Another theme is disorientation: the movie begins with a montaged depiction of Dr. Banks’s daughter’s birth-life-death which gives no hint of the first contact saga to come. But the grief and loss within Dr. Banks partially drives her mission to communicate with the aliens. When the human communications team first enters the central chamber of an alien shell, they are subject to weird gravity effects, and a key shot is framed upside down hammering home the idea of losing all human moorings when coming into the presence of the truly alien.



It would be criminal for me to spoil this movie any further. Part of Arrival’s power comes from the process of discovery. This is one of those movies you’re just going to have to see for yourself, Dear Reader. It’s a smart film about ideas, emotions, and high stakes conflicts. It is the rare science fiction film that functions at the same level of sophistication as science fiction literature. Think 2001, Gattaca, Solaris, Blade Runner, and Ghost in the Shell. Arrival will pop up on lists of the greatest sci-fi movies in years to come. Try to see it on the biggest, brightest screen possible, with the sound cranked to the max.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I feel deep shame for my country

I voted for Clinton.
It wasn't enough.
Perhaps this blog will be used against me in the coming days, weeks, months,
Christ,
years.
We'll see.
Maybe I'll stay awake 'til my heart stops.

Women.  Girls. People of Color. Immigrants. Muslims. Jews.
Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual. Queer.Trans. Gender Non-Conforming. Gender Non-Binary.
People With Disabilities.
The Poor.
The Addicted.
The Incarcerated.
I'm sorry my country scapegoated you.
I'm sorry I didn't do more.

I'm sorry for being a selfish,  disengaged, entitled prick.

I'll put myself back together.
Find a way to fight.
-William D.  Tucker