Crashing the Game can be Scary

A wave of fear hits whenever I walk into the lobby of Gov. Susana Martinez’s office on the fourth floor of the Roundhouse, to see the robot Koala bear wielding dual orange lightsabers. Gravity releases my heart but hangs on to the rest of my guts. Then the feeling’s gone.

The sculpture is “Hopi Nuclear Maiden,” by Tony A. Price, and it’s worth checking out. It’s not why I feel scared though.

I go see the nuclear maiden when I’m jogging around Santa Fe. It’s important, I think, to acquaint myself with that fear sensation that comes and goes as I enter the office of the central player in this whole dirty racket.

The governor and her people are continually making bad decisions that appear motivated to help friends in business use the government to make money.

Me and the few other avengers at Independent Source PAC have been covering this story doggedly, and lately I’ve found myself afraid of being jumped by contract goons.

There’s a lot of money at stake for a few men who fancy themselves wolf kings. These guys don’t like talking about what they’re up to.

I saw “Michael Clayton.” Contract goons can kill whisper-quiet with a quick little injection between the toes. No trace.

I don’t know Jay McCleskey, the guy who runs Susana PAC; I just know he doesn’t like answering questions. “Breaking Bad” has taught us that even a good man can become a fearless homicidal gangster, so what about someone who’s already a product of the political money world? Seen Kelsey Grammar on “Boss”? He plays the mayor of Chicago, who kills people over contracts over breakfast.

I don’t know if I’m afraid of McCleksey or any of these other political Monopoly players, but I do wonder whether I should be. If I’m gonna be the only one asking questions… well, a lone voice is easy to silence.

By not aggressively investigating the governor’s seemingly corrupt way of running state government, the Albuquerque Journal might be putting my life in danger. I guess that’s the point here.

Just know that I love you Erin, pooch, my family and dear friends. If I’m whacked by contract goons, please know I left the world with a heart full of love.

And if you have any spirit powers in your light sabers, Hopi Nuclear Maiden, spare some to protect me.


Satan was an Angel: This Pamphlet Totally Explains Everything

As if delivered by the Hand of God, a pamphlet appeared upon my front door Wednesday. There was no bearer, and yet my doorbell somehow rang.

I get it now. I get why shows like “The Wire” present mind-warping, innocence-devouring images like parking-lot sex between McNulty and Pearlman.



Remember Verbal Kint’s great line in “The Usual Suspects” that “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”? The Jehovah’s Witnesses who left this pamphlet concur. Speaking on Satan, the booklet says “His most clever deception has been in blinding many to the fact that he and his demons really exist. But do not be deceived! The Devil and his demons are real, and you need to resist them continuously.”

Here’s what we know: Very horrible things happen on this world, often to very good people. “What forces drive men to such loathsome deeds or maneuver them into situations where they feel compelled to commit atrocities?”

My answer, before reading this, would have depended on when in history we’re talking about. Over the last two centuries, I’d have to say “Money.” Before then, probably “Land.” I guess we could sum up my guess by saying “Greed.”

Oh, and probably “Religion,” too.

That’d be wrong, though. The Bible says “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one…. The one called Devil and Satan… is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” We know he’s calling the shots on this spinning blue water ball because of an offer he made to Jesus. Satan took Jesus to the top of a tall mountain and said all those kingdoms they saw below could be his, “If you fall down and do an act of worship for me.”

I might’ve just faked it, but Jesus’s response was pretty sweet: “Go away, Satan!” Did they have to climb back down the mountain together? If so – awkward.

Quick back-story on Satan: Homie was an angel created by God, who became envious of God’s position. The scheming Satan sent a talking snake to the first woman, Eve, and it convinced her and her husband Adam to follow the devil rather than obey God. He’s been running the show ever since.

He’s not alone, though. Satan convinced other angels to sell out their creator. “These became demons, his spirit accomplices.”

“These unseen, wicked world rulers are determined to mislead all mankind, turning them away from the worship of God.” How? Two ways, chiefly:

ONE: Promote the idea of survival after death, even though God says the dead stay dead. So if you see someone, like a medium, claiming to converse with dead folk, that person’s working for Satan. Throw a net over him or her and call Ghostbusters.

“Spiritism” means curiosity about the spirit realm, and it’s Satan’s way of sucking us in. Avoid crystal balls, Ouija boards, ESP, “examining the lines of one’s hand,” and astrology.

“Demons have also caused noises and other physical phenomena in houses that they make their territory.” Dicks. I hope they don’t do that while people are trying to sleep.

TWO: “(W)icked spirits capitalize on the sinful bent of humans by promoting literature, movies, and television programs that feature immoral and unnatural sexual behavior.” If you see your mom reading “50 Shades of Gray,” swat it from her hand and whip holy water into her eyes.

And don’t watch HBO. Did you see the first episode of “True Blood” this season? Viking vampire sheriff Eric Northman has sex with his sister (they share a maker) in a cargo crate and then emerges with a big smile on his face to say “We may argue like siblings, but we f*ck like champions.” Alan Ball created “True Blood,” so Alan Ball must therefore be a demon.

“Happily,” my pamphlet says, “‘The world [including its demon rulers] is passing away,’ the Bible assures, ‘but he that does the will of God remains forever.’ What a relief it will be to have that evil influence removed!”

I guess… but what are we supposed to watch on TV?

“The Amazing Spider-Man” Needed Daniel Day Lewis to Play the Lizard

If only Daniel Craig weren’t so damned sexy, there might be a weirdly vicious Wolverine movie coming out this summer directed by Darren Aranofsky.

We’ll come back to that. First you’ve gotta know some things about “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which comes out today and stars Andrew Garfield (Eduardo in “The Social Network”) as Spider-Man.

There was already a series of three “Spider-Man” flicks starring Tobey Maguire. The first one was good, the second was great and the third was awful. Now comes this new version. Rebooting comic book movies makes sense, especially this one. There have been a ton of “Spider-Man” series pumping through your local comic book store. “Amazing Spider-Man.” “Spectacular Spider-Man.” “Ultimate.” “Web of.” There was a cool series set in the future called “Spider-Man 2099.”

The same thing happens with Batman and Superman and all the iconic heroes that endure so well over decades. Some artist has a different take on the characters and gets to launch his own version of the saga. This happens all the time.

The movie “The Amazing Spider-Man,” though, is not a reboot. No way. There are some really good things about it – like how cleverly the web shooters work and Garfield’s great performance – but the thing that sucks about it is also the reason they can’t claim to be trying something new: It’s the same completely predictable story we saw in the first Tobey McGuire movie, and has the same basic plot elements as the first TWO “Spider-Man” movies.

Much was made of how the director’s only other movie was a charming little romantic dramedy called “(500) Days of Summer.” He was brought on to make Spider-Man more of a normal, angsty kid.

This was exactly the approach of the first set of movies, and it is boring. The relationship to the villain, the lectures, the girl, the fights where bystanders help out, the narrow disaster aversion at the end…. If you have seen a Tobey McGuire “Spider-Man” movie then you already know everything that happens in “The Amazing Spider-Man.”

But it isn’t terrible, so whatever. Let’s get back to Wolverine. The year was 2010, and Darren Aranofsky was melting moviegoer’s brains with “Black Swan,” a gory, twisted little Oscar-winning ballerina movie that teems with animal lust and psychedelic terror. One of Aranofsky’s other films is the ridiculously entertaining, totally horrifying heroine classic “Requiem for a Dream.” (“Requiem’s” music score will haunt first time viewers for days. It gets stuck in your head and flashes the mind unwillingly back to the film’s crazier scenes.)

Aranofsky is an intense artist, and his stuff is really dark. To hear he was making a Wolverine movie was joyous for those of us who prefer this roaring badass…

…to this pathetic pussy…

I Googled “Wolverine” and found this.

After agreeing to take on Wolverine – the coolest of all X-Men, incidentally – in 2010, Aranofsky said “We’re definitely going to make something great” and “I have a feeling [that] by the time I get done with it, it will be something a little bit different.”

Hugh Jackman – who plays Wolverine and can be excellent when the part’s good – said of the project “There’s going to be some meat on the bones. There will be something to think about as you leave the theater, for sure.”

It sounded so awesome.

Then it fell apart.

For that, we can blame God. Shooting was supposed to happen in Japan, where the Wolverine-vs.-samurais story takes place, but then that monumental disaster of a tsunami hit.

We can also blame Daniel Craig. Now this – and everything else I’m basically writing here – is all from reading stupid stories on the internet, but as I understand it Aranofsky was planning Wolverine when his girlfriend of many years broke up with him. The girlfriend is Oscar-winning stunner Rachel Weisz (she was in the first “Mummy” movie and won her Oscar for “The Constant Gardner”). They have a kid together, and Aranofsky said his reason for dropping the movie was “I was not comfortable being away from my family for that length of time.”

Damn your roguish good looks, Daniel Craig! Weisz was filming “Dream House” with Craig ( meter: 6%) at about the same time Aranofsky and Hugh Jackman were planning the Wolverine movie together (with a script, by the way, from the dude who wrote “The Usual Suspects”). Weisz and Craig wound up in love, and they’re married now. She must have dumped Aranofsky, and the personal drama probably had at least a little to do with the Wolverine movie dissolving.

(My apologies to the three of you for even writing this stuff. I like your movies a lot.)

That Wolverine movie was going to be a reboot – a different story and style applied to the same character, just like Christopher Nolan’s done with his great new Batman movies. Except Aranofsky has as an even sharper edge than Nolan. I dare say the Wolverine flick was going to be rated R.

Speaking of Nolan’s Batman movies, there’s another distinction I think is important to make when considering why “The Amazing Spider-Man” belongs in the “Bad” bin, historically, while “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” belong in the “Good.” The latter films feature a protagonist who is awash in angst and sadness and yet HE DOES NOT CRY. Spider-Man, in this new one, is constantly crying.

It’s one crying scene after another for over an hour. You will sit there with your 3D glasses on, wondering why in the world you needed 3D glasses for a teenager tearjerker. Eventually, thankfully, there is about five minutes when the 3D gets cool.

One of my favorite Spider-Man comic books when I was a kid showed Venom, his all-time greatest villain, holding up a skull wearing the tattered remnants of Spider-Man’s mask. In it, Venom has taken Spider-Man to a deserted island so he can scare him and fight him. It takes a series of physical and mental heroics for Spider-Man to barely get away.

We never see a short, clean little comic book movie like that. My old roommate Daniel and I used to talk about this important issue a lot, and we decided the next Spider-Man or X-Men or whatever should be directed by Quentin Tarantino, and it needed Daniel Day Lewis to star as the bad guy (didn’t matter who, but I vote Carnage). You show me that movie, and I will love it forever.

That’s what we lost in the moment when Weisz’s gaze met Craig’s glistening abs and Aranofsky’s Wolverine dropped dead. That’s what we’re losing with every new Spider-Man movie. These guys are ignoring hundreds of stories told over decades of Spider-Man adventures, choosing instead to recycle the same tired tale over and over.

“The Dark Knight Rises” comes out in a few weeks. After than, we might be screwed on cool comic movies.

(And what’s up with no-nose Lizard? This is what he looked like in the comics:

This is Lizard in the new movie:

I don’t understand why, creatively, the filmmakers would want to make him less lizard-like. Their version is more carnival-freak than reptile.)

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