Monday, November 30, 2009

2012 and Ninja Assassin: Stupid Fun

Howdy, folks. I've been away for a long time because of school. Essays for Shakespeare and Early English literature, online math tests and quizzes, stories for creative writing, all that fun stuff. I decided to hold back on blogging so I could focus on school work, but now that there's only two weeks left of the semester, it's time to unwind and reflect on two movies I recently saw: 2012 and Ninja Assassin.

2012 was an entertaining cinema event, yet suffered from poor storytelling while trying to amaze the audience with fantastic special effects.
It was fun watching Los Angeles be torn apart from biblically destrutive earthquakes, and it was exciting to be there with the characters in the plane as they swerved and dived around the falling buildings and general carnage. It reminded me of those fun VR simulators they have at the mall, where you shell out a few bucks to sit inside a dark, cramped space and be jerked around while watching a B movie. Fun, but nothing that makes you want to come back for more. I was pleasantly surprised, though, with the amount of well-rounded characters in 2012, because they actually made you care about them and want to know how they survive the whole world reshaping itself in less time it took God to create it.
But the whole premise of 2012 is silly. If you do some honest research on geology, neutrinos, and the Mayans, you can find out that this movie is just your typical Hollywood fluff whose purpose is to sell tickets and popcorn. If you actually believe that the world will end in 2012 from massive earthquakes, then go stick your head in a bucket of irritated pirhanna. It'll be fun. Trust me.
(Besides, everyone knows 2012 is when the Mayan Space Zombies return to enslave us all!)
So anyway, despite the likable characters and computer-generated thrills, this movie is not memorable enough to make me see it again and again. I even predict that this movie will fade from most people's minds by 2013 while we are building palaces for our Mayan space masters.

Ninja Assassin, on the other hand, was a movie that I thouroughly enjoyed despite its flaws of weak story and over the top special effects.
There really isn't much to say about the plot for Ninja Assassin. There's a good ninja who is out to kill a lot of bad ninjas because they killed his girlfriend. Meanwhile, European spies and commandos are chasing the good ninja because...he's a ninja. It's as if each of the filmakers grabbed something from a bag of generic kung-fu plot devices, then they stuck them all together to make this movie. It's nothing groundbreaking, probably won't win any Oscars, but who cares! We're here to see all that sexy ninja action! There's enough blood spilled in this movie to drown ten whales, and watching all the visceral dismemberments and decapitations is like watching a live action Anime or video game. This movie would be great in 3D because there are a lot of scenes where they slow down so we can appreciate the sharpness of a throwing star or claw-on-a-chain snapping at the audience before removing the appendage of an offending ninja. It was gory, gruesome, and a lot of fun. It probably won't be as well loved or remembered as 300 or Sin City, but I left the theater satisfied nonetheless.

So that's all for me now. Still got a couple of weeks of school to go and then finals, so stay tuned. I may have more fun stuff to share down the road.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blum, The Incompetent Knight

Hey, you like comics, right? Of course you do! So how about checking out the misadventures of Blum, the Incompetent Knight, a webcomic my older brother has created? You see, he started this project last October, but he wasn't happy with the art and writing, so he's been real busy relaunching his site over the last few months and it looks pretty impressive! Here's the link: So check it out if you want to be cool like everyone else!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hey, Kids! Comics!

Every month my older brother and I get in the car and take a fifteen minute drive to this great comic book haven known as Flying Colors in Concord, CA. The other day I stopped by after classes and stocked up on more comics, mainly from my favorite publisher, Dark Horse. I got me the latest issues of Conan the Cimmerian, Usagi Yojimbo, B.P.R.D, and Werewolves on the Moon versus Vampires (Mayan Moon Mummies!!). I even bought a couple of issues from the Captain America: Reborn series. It made me chuckle. In case you don't know, Captain America didn't really die, but was displaced in space and time from a super bullet made by the Red Skull. It's all pretty complicated, so you'll have to read the comics to understand the latest shenanigans from Marvel, which had recently been bought up by Disney. Nutty ol' world we live in, ain't it?

I also bought three Deadpool comics. I had never heard of the Merc with a mouth before the Wolverine: Origins movie, but now I absolotuely love him. He's a hundred times funnier and cooler than whatshisname that played him in the movie, but at least he kept the swords. Another reason why I love Flying Colors is that if you buy at least twenty dollars worth of comics, you can get afreebie pack of comics. It's a random assortment of comics, but it's still great because I can read some great comics that I've never even heard of before, such as Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil. Watching Dr. Doom beat the living crap out of Doc Oc, Sandman, Chameleon, and Kraven made me go into a nerdgasm.

So that's all from me for now. I'll try to post stuff more frequently, but it's kinda hard when you're easily distracted by the internet, World of Warcraft, and Left 4 Dead. Now, if you'll excuse me, gots zombies to shoot...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Disappointment in the Lopez

The other night I watched George Lopez's Tall, Dark, and Chicano on HBO. I was greatly disappointed. For one thing, most of his jokes were just his old ones told in a different way, about how tough Chicanos are and how silly white folk are. The jokes were amusing, but they were nothing new. I heard them all before from his other shows and from other comedians who like to play the race card in their shows. All in all, the man was preaching to the choir because the audience howled and cheered with approval at every Latino Pride statement he had said, which he did more than actually telling jokes. The show felt more like a political rally than an actual comedy show.

I'm sure there are people out there who would say, "he's just a comedian telling jokes! If you don't like him then don't watch him!" There were some jokes that were good and made me laugh, but for the rest of the hour and a half I found myself smiling but thinking, "okay, when is he going to knock off the racial and political humor? This isn't all that funny." It's good that the man is proud of his people, but I think a good comedian should add more variety in his show than what Mr. Lopez had in his. If other people had a good time, then I'm glad they did. But as for myself, his latest show didn't strike my funny bone the way I had expected it to.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

One Fine Day at the Theater (Part 3: Worst Complaint Ever)

Things go wrong all the time. There's no helping it. Human nature and all that rot. So when things go wrong people complain or, to put it more politely, ask to see a manager. One night I was sweeping the lobby of popcorn when a customer came out of a theater looking upset. He and I made eye contact and then he asked me if he could see a manager. I made the mistake of saying, "there's no manager around right now, but can I help you?" At this point I had been working there for some time and had a good grasp of what people expected of a movie theater. Tasty popcorn, cold soda, a rat-free lobby, and a focused picture. I assumed that his complaint fell in one of these categories or something close to it. I was wrong. He complained about the pre-show ads, saying to me: "I did not pay ten dollars to watch commercials."

I was totally flabbergasted. What was I supposed to say to something like that? "I'm sorry, sir, but those commercials play at the beginning of most movie theaters ACROSS THE COUNTRY!" After a minute or so of listening to him complain and me saying, "mm" or "I see," he walked back in. Apparently, the man was not gung-ho enough to find a manager. Now, I can understand his kind of frustration. I get annoyed from commercials on TV when I'm watching my favorite shows, but there is a wonderful invention called the Mute button. We live in an age where we are constantly bombarded by advertisements playing to our emotions, fears, and dreams, trying to seduce us into buying certain products or services. Fortunately for us, we still have the power to tune out these messages if we so choose and to complain about it, like how this man did was idiotic. If he was so offended by Coca Cola telling him how he can open happiness by having a Coke, then he could have just waited in the lobby and waited for about ten minutes before the show started. Maybe he could have brought *gasp!* a book!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Saddest Story Ever

I have recently read a short story in Talebones magazine by Tim McDaniel called "Discards." It's about a Japanese man who goes to his dead mother's house to sell all of her old things and finds a box in the attic full of toys he had when he was a kid. One of these toys is a silver box that holds all of the monsters he had ever caught, trained, and battled with during his youth. Unless you have been living on the moon for the last ten or so years, this is Pokemon we're talking about. So he wonders if these monsters were still alive after all these years, but when he opens it he finds most of the monsters to be dead. The only two left alive are a yellow mouse and a blue-skinned turtle (Pikachu and Squirtle, for those who don't know), but they are old and decrepit. He feels guilty for using these creatures to bring him fame and glory, and thinks about killing them to put them out of their misery. Instead, he drives them to the woods and leaves them there to die.

This was a well written story, but damn. So sad. I think a little part of me died while reading this.
Who's that Pokemon...(sniff)'s P-Pikachu! (cries)
Makes me want to dust off the old Gameboy and play some Pokemon, though.

Friday, July 17, 2009

One Fine Day at the Theater (Part 2: Angry Bob)

I've been meaning to get back to this little series for a while, but school has been intense and I've been distracted by video games. But now I'm back to tell you about another adventure of mine from the old theater.

If you work at any fast food or entertainment-related job long enough, you are bound to recognize those customers who are regulars. Most of the time they are friendly people who like the place and get to know the staff by name. For instance, there was one cool biker dude who always stopped by every Friday to buy a large popcorn with extra butter and had some great stories to tell. I'll introduce him in a later installment. However, these regular customers are not always so friendly. Sometimes, they are downright nasty.

I never found out this man's name, so I shall refer to him as Angry Bob. He was a big man whose neck and arms were as big as tree trunks. His face was always set in a permanent scowl and he had this flat, army-like haircut. He was the kind of guy you would expect to see at the gym, pumping iron and chugging protein shakes. But he was a regular at my theater, a venue for artistic, foreign, and independent films. Go figure. Most of the time Angry Bob just watched his movie and then leave without any problems, always wearing his trademark "I'm-going-to-bite-your-head-off" scowl. But there was one night where I had an unpleasant encounter with the man.

It was a slow night when Angry Bob walked in to see "The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas," a film about two boys who become friends in WW 2 Germany, but one of them is a Jew and the other is the son of a German Army Officer. It was actually a good movie, but I digress...
So Angry Bob walked in, bought a small soda and popcorn, and went into his theater to watch the movie. He was the only customer for that showing. About half an hour after the movie started, a coworker and I were talking in the lobby when Angry Bob came out to tell us that the screen was too fuzzy and asked us if we could do anything about it. My coworker left to find a manager. As for myself, I was stuck at register duty. I had to stay there no matter what to make sure no one stole anything. Some time later the coworker came back and told me that he had informed a manager about the problem and then left. I assumed that that would be the end of it.
I was wrong.
Angry Bob came back out looking, well, angry. "Excuse me," he said to me, since I was the only poor slob available to yell at, "but this is not the middle ages. Is it that hard to focus a projector?" (No, I did not make this up. He really said this.) A common problem that occurred to me while working at this theater was the lack of backup whenever a customer came out to complain about something, but I was in no position to help because I couldn't leave my post. This was another one of those times. I told the man that a manager had been told of the problem and would fix it as soon as he could, but Angry Bob still didn't look pleased. He walked back in and I felt very uncomfortable.
Some time later he came out again, looking royally pissed. I could see the veins bulging on his abnormally large neck and his face was bright red. I was truly afraid that something very bad and very painful might happen to me. "I want to talk to a manager," he says, "I payed ten dollars to see this movie! This is ridiculous!" Fortunately, a manager had walked into the lobby and Angry Bob redirected his anger towards him. The manager assured him that he would fix the problem, then walked up to the booth to adjust the picture. Meanwhile, Angry Bob angrily paced the lobby. I tried to busy myself with some work to ignore the man, but I couldn't shake the feeling that he would explode at any second. To my relief, he only paced and grumbled for a few minutes before going back into the theater and not bothering us for the rest of the night. After that, the manager came back into the lobby and said, "it's already as focused as it can get. I don't know what his problem is."

I already knew that people were weird, but Angry Bob amazed me. I was told by another coworker that this wasn't the first time this man had a problem here. So why did he keep on coming back? Who knows. Maybe he liked to yell at people because it made him feel big and strong.
So please, whenever you're out at the movies or at a restaurant or whatever, be considerate for the minimum wage people serving you. We deal with crap all day long and it would be nice to not have to deal with the Angry Bobs out there. Besides, if things go wrong it might not be our fault!

Monday, July 13, 2009


So my brothers and I got up this morning and did the usual routine: shower, eat breakfast, do some last minute studying for our Italian test, etc. But when we got our things together and walked outside to get in the car and drive to school, we noticed something...odd.
Apparently, someone had decorated the hood of Alan's car with donuts, as you can see here. My own car wasn't hit as bad, but there was some kind of cream smeared on the hood and a few other donuts littered the pavement.

We thought this was funny and it wasn't too hard to clean them off, but seriously, folks...donuts? Talk about a waste of food! They could have at least used Krispy Kreme donuts instead of the cheap Safeway kind. Heck, if I had done this I would have bought a whole box and be more creative! It could have been worse, I suppose, but the only thing to worry about in little old Benicia are the bored, High School skater boys.

This wasn't the first time our house/property was goofed around with, either. Once all of our cars were tp'd overnight, another time we found chunks of pineapple thrown against the house, and during last year's hectic presidential campaign someone had spray-painted all the cars on the neighborhood with: "OBAMA."

Who knows, this might be someone's way of saying they like us.

And no, we did not eat the donuts.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Depressing week is depressing

Wow. So many famous people have died during this month. David Carradine, Michael Jackson, and now Billy Mays! What a downer. Well, no one lives forever and it won't do us any good to feel bad about things out of our control. So here are some funny pics to help lighten our moods.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Review of Stephen King's "Morality"

I'm a big Stephen King fan, so when I heard he had a new short story out in the July issue of Esquire magazine I went out and bought a copy so I could read his latest work. The cover's pretty damn sexy, too. There are people out there who say Mr. King is a hack (although the exact definition of who can be considered a literary "hack" is up to debate), but as far as I'm concerned the man knows how to write a compelling story and Morality is no exception.

is about a young couple, Chad and Nora, living in New York who both lose their jobs due to the recession. They try to make ends meet by taking on new jobs. Chad becomes a substitute teacher and writes a book while Nora goes into nursing. One day one of Nora's patients, a retired Reverend George Winston, offers her a chance to earn $200,000 by doing something special for him before he dies. But that's where the story takes a dark turn. There are no monsters, ghouls, vampires, or anything supernatural. This is about real life monsters, a dark tale about how far desperate people would go for money. The ending isn't all ponies and sunshine, either.

In this story Mr. King built suspense nicely by revealing the plot little by little, dragging the reader into the story with believable characters and creating a situation that is both creepy and thought-provoking. The content is not as brutally horrific as his other works. It's more subtle, which may disappoint some readers who are expecting something weird or bloody, but that's what I like about it; I think it's good when an author changes their approach to storytelling and still grab the reader's attention like it did with me.

So hats off to Stephen King for writing yet another excellent short story.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kung Fu Mom and Italian Baby Tossing

My brothers and I enrolled into a Beginning Italian class at our local community college yesterday. Today some of our classmates shared with us some stories of their experiences and adventures in Italy.
One guy in particular had a whopper of a story to share.

When this guy was thirteen years old, he and his mother were vacationing in Rome when she wanted to find a shop that sold special trinkets she needed to buy. However, after some time of wandering the streets, they became lost and found themselves in a seedy part of town. Graffiti covered the walls, trash littered the streets, and shady characters were hanging out in alleys around them. It was definitely not a place they would advertise in the tour books. Finally, the mother gave up on finding this shop and they started to walk back the way they came. Her son then noticed that some shifty looking guys were watching them from across the street they were walking down. Suddenly, one of these men ran at them, pulled a knife, grabbed the mom by her wrist, and tried to cut her wristwatch off. Although her son was paralyzed with horror, his mom wasn't your typical damsel in distress.
She punched the mugger in the face, knocking him down on his ass.
Fortunately, the man then ran away with his buddy and the trouble was over. Two elderly men had been watching from a distance, and they applauded the mother and shouted, "bravo! bravo!"

But there's more.
After the attempted mugging, the boy and his mom, who was still flustered from the adrenaline rush, boarded a train to get back to their hotel. But when they got to their seats, a man with a huge nose was sitting there. The mom politely said in Italian, "excuse me, sir, but these are our seats. Could you please move?" The man did not budge. She asked again, but the man still did not move. The mom did not have any more patience. She kicked the man in his shin. He grunted and finally moved over, but then he propped up his feet in the vacated seats. The mom kicked him again, even harder. He removed his legs and they sat. He didn't bother them again for the remainder of the trip.

After this guy told his story, a woman stood and warned us to be careful in the big cities because sometimes pickpockets will be so desperate to snatch your money that they will throw babies at you. The strategy is this: one person poses as a vendor and will try to sell you something as his or her partner stands nearby with a baby in their arms. Once you agree to buy something and pull out your money, their partner will run over and hurl the baby at you. Most people don't want to see a baby crack open all over pavement and will reach out to catch it while the money is still in their hands. Once your arms are full of baby, the thief will grab the money from you and run for it.
If the lady was making this up, then it was an impressive stretch of her imagination. But then again, truth can be stranger than fiction.

Italy is a beautiful country with a rich culture, to be sure, but after hearing stories like this I'm not all that excited to travel abroad anytime soon.

Friday, June 19, 2009

One Fine Day at the Theater (part 1: Rock and Roll Grandma)

I thought it would be fun to post some of my more interesting experiences from my old work before they fade from my mind. So here goes...

From May of '08 to May of this year I had worked at a small theater in Pleasant Hill, California. If you drive down I-80 through Pleasant Hill towards the Carquinez Bridge, you might see a dome-shaped structure to your right nestled between a gym and a bar. That is it. It is a theater that only plays independent, foreign, or artistic films, but once in a while some mainstream films can sneak in (I worked there for the midnight showing of the Dark Knight, which was amazing). Last year a friend of mine worked there and I told him that I was looking for a job. He said that the Dome was hiring and he would put in a good word for me. So I filled out an application, was interviewed, and, batta-boom batta-bing, I was hired. It was a long, strange trip where I met many interesting people and seen many interesting things. I don't regret working there because it was good experience for a first job, but it still left a funny taste in my mouth. Like anchovies and peanut butter.

After some time of working there, they trusted me around money (which I do not wish to work around again for a long time) and put me at the snack bar registers and box office more often than sweeping popcorn or tearing tickets. A few months back I was in the box office, sitting and waiting for something to happen. You see, the way this particular theater worked was that there would be a time frame when movies got in, followed by 2-3 hours of little to no activity. If you worked in the box office, your job was to sell tickets, answer the phone, and sit there and look pretty. It was an easy job, but there was not much else to do in those hours when no movies were playing (those 9 hour shifts were real killers). The box office was located outside, separated from the rest of the theater. Sure, there was a door that led to the office, but there wasn't always anybody in there, manager or otherwise (which resulted in many frustrating moments). As you can imagine, it also got horribly lonely as well as boring in there. However, there was a time when a most interesting fellow approached the box office during a slow part of the day.

He had a wild, scraggly gray beard, his clothes were plain but looked as if he hadn't taken them off in days, he wore a baseball cap with the United States Air Force logo emblazoned on the front, and he had this nasty looking growth on the right side of his face. He approached the box office, laid a dollar bill on the counter, and started to tell me a story. At first I was receptive because I thought he was trying to tell me a joke, but when no punch line came I started to worry. This "story" was about a homeless Mexican trying to pass off a dollar bill as a one-hundred dollar bill to some guy...but then he lost me as he started to ramble on and on and on about nothing. Listening to this crazy guy was amusing for a while. At some points he said some funny things such as: "yeah, rock and roll grandma!" or "that's how we rock and roll, man." At one point he even took out a lighter and flared it up and laughed for whatever reason. All the while I just nodded to everything he said like some stupid bobble head and said, "mm-hm." At one point he stopped to look at me as if he had asked a question that he wanted an answer to. I merely nodded and said, "mm-hm." The guy laughed so hard that some spittle flew out of his mouth and onto the protective glass between us and said, "this kid's sharp!"
But after listening to him for five minutes, I started to think: What should I do if he stays here for too long? What if he gets violent? What if customers want to buy tickets? What will this guy do? Should I call the police? So he kept on talking. And talking. And talking. I started to look around to see if anyone was watching. But, of course, I did not see any of my co-workers or managers around, so I was stuck with this guy without any backup. His ramblings became more disturbing as he started to say things like, "I hope you guys throw everything you got at me, because I got this chemical inside me that'll keep me alive, man." He then asked if he could get a free ticket to see a movie. I said, "sorry, I can't." Then he asked for money. I gave the same answer to his first question. Then he asked if he could just step inside for a minute, assuring me that the place would soon be packed with customers as if his presence would attract good business. I was worried that he would get agitated, but instead of waiting for an answer to that last question he just talked for another five minutes before finally walking away.

When it was all over, I felt glad that he was gone but also kind of bummed to have met such a person. Maybe he was on drugs or maybe he had a mental disorder. Either way, it was a weird experience, but it did help pass the time.
I guess a little madness in your day is better than nothing at all.


My brothers and I don't get out much, but when we do it's usually for something awesome. Take Spam-A-Lot, for instance. We've been Monty Python fans for a long time and watching this play was like a dream come true (and if you don't know anything about those crazy Brits then look 'em up or you will be forced to cut down the mightiest tree in the woods with a herring, so sayeth the Lord). How can you not love a musical with such catchy tunes as "Fisch Schlapping Song," "I Am Not Dead Yet," or "You Won't Succeed on Broadway?" One of my favorite lines from that last song: "You can have a grand piano, but they will not give a damn-o, if you don't have any Jews." I laughed so hard through this play that my jaws hurt for hours.

Getting in and out of San Francisco was a pain in the ass, though. It's a fine city, but I think anyone who actually likes living there needs their brain examined and be severly medicated. I was also surprised to not see many people our age. The audience consisted mostly of middle aged people to the elderly with some kids under sixteen. So what if we weren't even born when the Holy Grail was made? That doesn't mean we still can't enjoy it! We even wore our Monty Python shirts and underwear! Come on, people! Get yourselves cultured! Anyways, if you ever get the chance to see this play then I highly urge you do. Fight through Mordor to buy those tickets if you have to. I assure you that you won't be dissapointed.

By the way, that guy standing next to Mike is my younger brother, Alan, who likes to blow his trumpet for a living. Why am I related to such freaks?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Older Brother's Graduation

This freak of nature here is my older brother, Mike, who had graduated on the 14th as a Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of East Bay, formerly known as Hayward. He wants to draw pretty pictures for a living and maybe make comics. If he asks nice enough, I might even write the scripts for said comics. Congrats, bro.

Hello, Internet. Shall we play a game?

Great. Now I've done it. Now I'm officially a part of the internet age. I am now a (o black horror!) a blogger. I have to tell you, I am still nervous with the idea of keeping an online journal/diary that anyone can read, but what the hey. It's something different and it could result in some interesting and memorable moments. Who knows, I might actually enjoy it.

Now for some introductions. My name is David R. Matteri. How do you do, internet? What's that? What will I blog about? Good question. I don't know, but it will probably be mostly about horror, fantasy, sci fi, video games, movies, music, pop culture, or anything else that catches my interest and wish to post on my blog. Two topics I will try to avoid like the black death are politics and religion. If you wish to pursue such topics there are plenty of other blogs to read out there. Otherwise, I welcome you all, fellow denizens of the internet to read and comment on the babblings of a twenty year old kid living in Benicia, California.

Shall we play a game?