I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Team Fortress 2

Adam and I were playing Team Fortress 2 one night and we came across a player whose screen name was NickelbackSavedMyLife. Another player on that particular server asked this player if Nickelback had indeed saved his life. Without qualification or explanation, NickelbackSavedMyLife simply responded, "Yes."

Arnold 365, Day 58 (Conan the Barbarian)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

If It Bleeds...

As if the witty reference to an Arnold Schwarzenegger quote from Predator weren't enough to catch my attention, If It Bleeds... has become one of my favorite blogs in the last couple of weeks both because it attempts to review every noteworthy album of 2011 (and some others) and because it is published by my beautiful girlfriend Amy Bolan (and no, she's still not related to the lead singer of T. Rex).

When I took on Arnold 365, a project devoted to posting a new and witty Arnold Schwarzenegger clip every day in 2011, I thought I was endeavoring on an enormous project. But then Amy brought up the idea of reviewing nearly every album released in 2011 and I was floored. If It Bleeds... is an ambitious project. Lucky for us that Amy is an ambitious woman. My position is completely unbiased and based strictly on experience: Amy is the kind of person who will deliver on a weekly basis and who has interesting insight into a wide variety of different albums. If It Bleeds... will not go the way of LOST 365 (may it rest in peace).

One last thing about If It Bleeds.... At the end of each month, Amy compiles a playlist comprised of the finest songs that best represent the style of the artist and the feel of the album. In a year that has already seen albums by Bright Eyes and Radiohead halfway into the first quarter, this is the time we really need someone to tell us about the best of 2011. There are a lot of promises in the music industry this year, and Amy has decided to help us figure out whether or not we're getting the kind of music we deserve.

Check out Amy's blog If It Bleeds... by clicking here. Immediately after you visit the site, make sure you bookmark it, subscribe to it, and tell Amy what you think.

T. Rex Electric Warrior (1971: Reprise)

1. "Mambo Sun" - 3:40
2. "Cosmic Dancer" - 4:30
3. "Jeepster" - 4:12
4. "Monolith" - 3:49
5. "Lean Woman Blues" - 3:02
6. "Get It On" - 4:27
7. "Planet Queen" - 3:13
8. "Girl" - 2:32
9. "The Motivator" - 4:00
10. "Life's A Gas" - 2:24
11. "Rip Off" - 3:40

I remember reading in Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs (a friend suggested it to me because Klosterman apparently writes the way I write) a distinction he made about bands. Some, he wrote, are good bands, bands distinguished by their musicianship and songwriting (the Beatles, for example), while others are cool bands, bands distinguished by look and style (MGMT, for example). While T. Rex certainly seems to fall under to cool category of bands, their album Electric Warrior is one of the best (read: "the good-est") albums I've ever listened to.

Electric Warrior is about love and dancing. It's about alternate lifestyles, most specifically the glam movement championed by T. Rex's Mark Bolan (who, I've found out, is not related to Amy Bolan), David Bowie, Lou Reed, and friends. My father always said of these people that he loved their music but never approved of their lifestyles (he would include Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones under this umbrella). I find this position inauthentic, even unobtainable; T. Rex's music is inseparable from T. Rex's lifestyle - sex, intoxication, guitars and drums; these things are both the life and the music. I may not live my life like Mark Bolan, but to judge his lifestyle as bankrupt is to judge his music as bankrupt, and his music is anything but.

I once attempted to experience T. Rex's Electric Warrior as a real rock star might. While staying in a hotel in Roswell, New Mexico, I laid on the bed, pantsless, wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses int he dark, and allowed myself to occupy the space of such songs as "Planet Queen" and "Life's a Gas." I've been told it was quite a scene to stumble upon, but I've also been told that I recruited a new T. Rex lover that day, another electric warrior, if you will. And I look back on this memory and know it was cool, and there was morning and evening that day.

Arnold 365, Day 57 (Terminator)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Arnold 365, Day 56 (Hercules in New York)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

David Bowie Hunky Dory (1972: RCA)

1. "Changes" - 3:37
2. "Oh! You Pretty Things" - 3:12
3. "Eight Line Poem" - 2:55
4. "Life on Mars?" - 3:53
5. "Kooks" - 2:53
6. "Quicksand" - 5:08
7. "Fill Your Heart" - 3:07
8. "Song for Bob Dylan" - 4:12
9. "Andy Warhol" - 3:56
10. "Queen Bitch" - 3:18
11. "The Bewlay Brothers" - 5:22

I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

Hunk Dory is possibly the most inaccurate album title I've ever encountered. It suggests that the 1972 David Bowie album was just OK. A better title for this album, which I consider one of the greatest artistic endeavors of the 20th century, would be Perfection, certainly not Hunky Dory, or Just OK.

The place that Hunky Dory occupies in my heart and mind is similar to the place the mysterious black monolith occupies in the hearts and minds of the once-vegetarian man-apes from the beginning of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Using the language of science fiction and horror films ("the golden ones," "the nightmares came today," etc.) Bowie describes brilliant and artistic individuals, Bob Dylans and Andy Warhols, as aliens in thei world, powerful and passionate foreigners in our midst who face either crucifixion or coronation but nothing else. Cinema is the mechanism of the mind and memory plays out on the silver screen. I am forever captivated by this rumination on inspiration and the inspired.

Bowie preaches of a love that is both cosmic and erotic, a love that makes heroes out of herds, that celebrates all that is great about humanity, a love that is inseparable from peace, that looks down on the violent masses and sighs, "Oh man, look at those cavemen go." Is there life on Mars? Is that the real question we're forced to deal with? I don't think so. I think we need to ask whether there's life, intelligent life, that is, full and free life, on Earth. Even more: I think we need to prove that there's life on Earth. This is the legacy and the responsibility that Hunky Dory leaves us with, to prove that humans, the stewards of the planet Earth, are more than just OK.

Cavemengo: Year Two

As promised, here's a look ahead at what Cavemengo's sophomore year has in store for you.

If you've been following Cavemengo, then you're already familiar with two months worth of Arnold Schwarzenegger clips. Year Two will determine whether I'm capable of completing this ambitious project, if by December 31, 2011 you will have access to 12 months, 365 days, of your favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger clips. LOST 365, much to my chagrin, ended far too soon. Let's hope that Arnold 365 doesn't.

The other day my buddy Josh looked at my blog on his subscription feed and immediately exclaimed, "I hate when you do that!" He was referring to posts I've put up with the obsession keyword, movies, albums and television programs that I promote without ever commenting on. Amy shared Josh's disdain for these posts. Outnumbered, I got to thinking, and the fruit of that thinking was that I would revise each and every one of those posts, one by one, starting with my February 25, 2010 post on David Bowie's Hunky Dory. Furthermore, every such post from here on out will include some sort of Justin Tiemeyer commentary. Why? Because you (namely, Josh Toulouse) asked for it.

Let's face it: Cavemengo is visually bland. I've even had complaints that the white text on black background gives people headaches. After viewing my friend Adam's blog for a computer programming course I've decided to change the text color, the background image, the header, and possibly more. I'm still taking suggestions, so please lend me a hand.

All this and much more awaits us on Cavemengo in 2011. Stick with me. I aim to please.

Cavemengo Anecdotes - Arthur

I keep mine short and sweet: irreverence is not the opposite of reverence, it is its better looking but possibly involved cousin from out of town that you wish would switch spots with the local. You know that cousin--the one you only introduce your friends to if they'll admit you're the one who hooked them up. The irreverent challenges while loving simultaneously, obscures by scrutinizing, and is loyal in it's analysis.

Here's to years more of Caveman Go and its foxy appeal as the obtainable mystery seeking ambiguous orthodoxy in the world outside pop.

Cavemengo Anecdotes - Josh Toulouse

So, Justin, the proprietor of this very blog you are reading, asked me to chime in with an anecdote about his blog to help celebrate the one year anniversary (or blogiversary as he put it) for Cavemen Go.

My first thought was obviously…

Who celebrates blog anniversaries? That’s so weird!

My next thought was…

Blogiversary? Seriously? You’re calling it a blogiversary?

After that I thought…

You know what sounds good? Chocolate. Chocolate sounds good right now.

But then I decided….

Eh, what else do I have going on?

So, I said yes.

That brings us, of course, to the next issue I was faced with, which was what anecdote I could tell to help Justin celebrate the one year anniversary of his blog.

I could talk about the annoyance I feel when I’m a little behind in my blog reading and I see a blog post from him posted to Facebook that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet (because Justin links his posts to Facebook after they go off of the front page of his blog). In these situations I will immediately start reading the bit on Facebook after the title that had caught my attention, only to get extremely frustrated because it is only the David Bowie song that he has at the top of the blog site. This has to have happened to me at least 30 times. (Sure, you could say that this is my own damn fault and that I should have learned by now, but I prefer to pass the guilt onto others as I feel less guilty that way, and therefore place the blame squarely on Justin for intriguing me and leaving the same damn Bowie song where it is on his blog, thereby getting me EVERY SINGLE TIME, and I also place the blame on Facebook for somehow dumbing me down while I am on their site so that I haven’t learned to realize that this is about to happen to me again each time I look at one of his posts.)

But, that isn’t very exciting, so I probably won’t talk about that.

The next thing that I could anecdote about (I just made anecdote a verb. I wonder if anyone else has ever done that? Or if anyone else will ever do it again? In other words, am I a trendsetter, or just someone who doesn’t understand the basics of English?) would be all the influence that I personally have had on this very blog. For instance, one time I posted a blog entry about possible guest stars that could play Sweet Dee’s baby daddy on the incorrigible comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This idea came due to a discussion I was having with Justin in which he told me that he was planning a blog entry about possible guest stars that he wanted to see in some of his favorite television shows.

Okay, okay, I see what you’re thinking here…

You’re thinking that it looks more like Justin influenced my blog instead of me influencing his blog. Before you go all judgey judge, let me finish the story…

After I posted my blog, crediting Justin with the idea, Justin had to go ahead and turn this loosely formed idea he had into an actual blog post himself, since I had advertised it on my site.

Due to my post, he included this little paragraph in his post…

I was originally going to sit on this blog idea for a while to see if I could brainstorm more ideas, but yesterday my good friend Josh, whose brilliant blog Fat Train deals with all the best and worst the worlds of television and film have to offer us, put some fire under me. During a class we both attend, he wrote a blog titled It's Always Funny in Philadelphia in which he linked his internet followers to this very blog post before it was even written. I thank Josh for his kind words and for introducing his people to my blog, but I also begrudge him for forcing me to be less lazy with my blogging.

See! I told you my blog has influenced his blog.

Okay. Okay. So maybe that anecdote just highlights the fact that our friendship has occasionally caused each of us to influence the other’s blog.

Hmm…. This is more difficult than I thought it would be.

I don’t know why I agreed to do this anyway. All that I really think about when I think about Cavemen Go is that I need to blog more myself. After all, it’s only been around for a year and there are already over 500 posts? What is that about? Over 500 posts in less than a year!? This is my sixth year of blogging and I’m barely over halfway to 500 posts! Am I just lazy?

Maybe. Maybe I am.

(Okay. I definitely am.)

But part of it is also the fact that many of Justin’s so-called “posts” (do you see what I did there? I called the posts “so-called” thereby implying that they weren’t really posts, and I also put the word “posts” in quotations thereby implying yet again that they weren’t really posts) are just pictures of people, things, tv-shows, movies, or albums. That’s it. No comments about them or anything, just a picture.

Which reminds me…

I have actually influenced Justin’s blog, because in his second year of blogging, he is going to repost each of these simple pictures with his actual thoughts or other comments he may have on the anniversary of when he first posted just the picture. In other words, he is actually going to blog about them.

And he is doing it because he is tired of me complaining about his cheating ways inflating his blog posts.

That’s right. Influence.

That I have had.

On this very blog.

So really, we should be congratulating me on this anniversary.

Or, I guess you could just keep on reading his blog.

Here’s to another year, Cavemen Go.

(And remember, if you ever get bored, you can always visit me at Fat Train. Justin won’t mind.)

Cavemengo Anecdotes - Chad P

It is said that in our culture that we don't really turn to the internet in order to learn new things and have our worldviews stretched. Instead, en masse, we turn to the internet to find the websites that bolster our already firmly held, but frail belief systems. Well, that is too bad for me. There is no place on the internet that will validate my ugly, chaotic, beautiful, hopeful way of looking at things.

There is no place on the internet that reveals your slightly embarrassing crush on Phil Collins while giving unintentional passive assent to "might makes right" by holding up Arnold Schwarzenegger as a God (specifically Hercules)? There isn't a place you can find a good discussion about video-games as an art form in the same breath with which traditional art forms are lifted up and appreciated. No place I can go where Led Zeppelin sits comfortably aside an exposition of Brad Metzger's Satellite Justice League drama. All of those random things you think about while watching movies blendered with off kilter analysis of the actors that played in them? nope. And the ambivalence of war alongside Purple Rain? Fuggetaboutit.

So there you have it. I am without... what? Cavemen Go? Crap. Don't you hate when you are proven wrong?

In this case, I actually don't

Cavemengo Anecdotes - Adam Friedli

Justin Tiemeyer saved my life. That’s what I told Justin’s girlfriend, Amy, the night they first met. I do tend to play wingman in a very extravagant way. But when I said this, it was an absolute truth. In fact, this has been true on more than one occasion. The first time was when he gave me guidance while I took some time off from school because my life basically got turned upside down. But I want to concentrate on the other time Justin was there for me.

I was still getting over my first big breakup. I really didn’t know what to do. Justin and I talked a lot online during this period, and he really started to open up to me about his past. Way more than usual. We were already fantastic friends, but this was a different side of him I had never seen. And part of his advice he gave was to find some creative outlets. So I thought about things I had wanted to work on for quite some time. That’s when I realized I had never gotten into photo editing. I decided to give it a shot.

Well, if any of you have followed Cavemen Go for awhile, you might have seen how that endeavor worked out. I have always done my photo editing projects for the entertainment of just me and my friends. They might not look like much, but I have a blast doing them. And when Justin started posting them on his blog, I was floored! I never expected that, and it really gave me an extra sense of accomplishment seeing them presented on his blog.

Justin played a large part in opening up my creativity and helping to piece me back together again. Twice. I’m a far better person for it, and I’m really fortunate in having him as a part of my life. Thanks for creating Cavemen Go, and thanks for blazing a trail of glory wherever you go. And Amy’s totally radical too.

Cavemengo Anecdotes - Tom Mitsos

Blog post: Copycat McDonalds Shamrock Shake
March 25, 2010

I remember the adventure that Justin endured trying to find a Shamrock Shake outside of Michigan. When Justin, Adam and I went to Roswell, Justin was determined to find at least one McDonalds that carried Shamrock Shakes.

I was confident there had to be at least one McDonalds that carried Shamrock Shakes. Why would they deny people of the Southwest this delicious treat? I’m not sure if Justin was as confident as I was, but I think my confidence gave him the drive to complete the task at hand.

During our 9-hour drive from Fort Worth, Texas to Roswell, New Mexico, Justin called numerous McDonalds asking if they had Shamrock Shakes. Every one of them denied him, and the dream seemed to be slipping further and further away. However, I could tell Justin was passionate about this endeavor, and he was not going to give up very easily.

Once we arrived in Roswell, Justin called a few more McDonalds in the area. He was denied a few more times, but one call led to a beacon of hope. There was one McDonalds that claimed to have them. I don’t exactly remember where it was, but it wasn’t very far from our hotel in Roswell so we decided to venture there. Justin and the rest of the crew (I think Stephan was present for this trip) were so elated at finally fulfilling Justin’s dream and crossing off yet another item on the bucket list.

Alas, when we arrived at the store, there were no Shamrock Shakes. I later recall Justin saying he thought the clerk he talked to thought Justin asked if they had “shakes” instead of “Shamrock Shakes.” One unheard word was the difference between glory, and failure.

I believe this was the last McDonalds that we tried. Justin had no choice but to accept defeat. It was a bitter defeat. Every March, I look forward to those delicious Shamrock Shakes. I think Justin has missed them the most living in Texas during the past few years. It’s almost as if he were trying to reclaim a bit of his youth with the Shamrock Shakes. Trying to remember a simpler time when there were no worries about the future, and a Shamrock Shake meant that spring was right around the corner.

I think Adam found a copycat Shamrock Shake for Justin and we were going to try it while we were in Roswell if we couldn't find the real deal. We never got around to it, and I don’t know if Justin has tried to make it since. However, I can guarantee that a copycat is not nearly as good as the legend that is the Shamrock Shake.

Cavemengo: Year One

Much like Batman incorporating all the best of such heroes as Harry Houdini, Zorro and Sherlock Holmes, Cavemengo is nothing if not the product of its predecessors. Here are just a few of the giants whose shoulders I had to stand on in order to make Cavemengo what it is today:


Captain's Blog, now defunct, was a strange travelogue (travelblogue?) I kept in order to document any adventure that took me away from home. When the time and the money required to travel disappeared, so also did Captain's Blog. While I continue to post travel pictures on Cavemengo, the most significant contribution from Captain's Blog came in the form of small travel playlists that I turned into mixes.


Also defunct, Corn Like an Angel was a food blog inspired by a quote by Steve Carell as Dan in Dan in Real Life ("This corn is like an angel."). Though the blog nearly got me a writing gig in New York, I shut it down because, like travel, New York cuisine costs money that I didn't have. Since I left New York, I've been able to do some write ups on fantastic food, particularly in Fort Worth, Texas (Love Shack, Charley's, Yucatan, Jesus BBQ, Off the Bone, Five Guys, Mellow Mushroom) and Grand Rapids, Michigan (Mediterranean Grills, San Marcos, Yesterdog, Winchester, Schnitz, Bombay, Jonny B'z), but also occasionally elsewhere (Slows, Skeeter's, American Coney, Czech Stop, Rudy's, Nick's).

As the previous subsections witness, I have juggled my fair share of blogs that have narrow purpose and that only last so long as I am still interested in that purpose. The main motivation behind the creation of Cavemengo was when my good friend Elliot Mayo, frustrated with keeping up with all my blog, told me I should combine them all into one. What Elliot didn't know is that I modified my new blog on his Elliot Mayo blog. Like Elliot, I would post on any project I was involved with, be it music, literature or art of any kind. I can say without a doubt that if it weren't for the influence of Elliot Mayo, there would be no Cavemengo.


Though the influence of Fat Train on Cavemengo might not be immediately evident beyond a devotion to popular mass media, its creator Josh Toulouse has been incredibly influential to my blogging. Over the last year I've had the chance to discuss upcoming blog projects (blogjects?) with Josh and get his opinion on my posts. Josh has been one heck of a resource and one heck of a friend. Join me in thanking him by visiting Fat Train often. I know for a fact he's got some great things in store this year!

Get Stop Ticket is a blog devoted to a Brooklyn band named Get Stop Ticket that I started with friends Elliot Mayo, Becky Prevette, and Fiona Maier. Physically, the group has split up, but we still record music together with the help of the internet and our new guitarist Stephan Mathos. The blog itself has seen better days, but its spirit is carried on in Elliot Mayo's Elliot Mayo, Fiona Maier's A Bjorky Whale, and my Cavemengo. Why don't Becky and Stephan have their own blogs? I don't know, but if you leave enough encouragement here maybe we can convince them to start blogs.

There is something so creative about my brother Micah Tiemeyer's blog titled Letters to Bowie. In Bowie, practically a folk hero due to our father's obsession with the rock legend, Micah found someone to whom he could confess his freakiest and funkiest thoughts. Following in my younger brother's footsteps, Cavemengo is a response to Bowie's 1972 album Hunky Dory, from the title ("Life on Mars?") to the header ("Oh! You Pretty Things") to the very first post. It was the seed of Bowie, delivered via Micah Tiemeyer, that breathed first life into my blog.

LOST 365

Though Jared Stumpenhorst never accomplished his goal of 365 unique pieces of art based on the hit ABC television program LOST in 365 days, the mere partial undertaking of this enormous project was an inspiration to me. Combined with my brother's sudden Arnold Schwarzenegger obsession upon returning from Vienna, Austria, I had all I needed to start my own year-long project titled Arnold 365. Here's to hoping I can make it to the end.

If my Denton roommate's web site promoting local music had taken off, my music blog Music, Sweet Music (named after a lyric in the Jimi Hendrix song "Manic Depression") may have earned me my first staff writing position. Like my other previous blogs, Music, Sweet Music can no longer be found on the internet, but my post on Bob Saget covering "Purple Rain" is still available, as are several music related articles inspired by it.

I think Justin Metz was my earliest friend to have a blog, and though he would hardly list it as his greatest accomplishment - Justin's a proud father and husband and, in my opinion, an overall success - I think his music blog Soquitcherbitchen is one of the best things on the net. I've been known to steal a video or two from Justin, if you head over to Soquitcherbitchen more often maybe he'll consider us even...

Cavemengo's One Year Anniversary!

I have difficulty expressing how grateful I am that so many of you have followed Cavemengo, but on her one year anniversary I feel inclined, especially if I wish to call myself a writer, to express that gratefulness in words.

It would be difficult to thank each individual who has made this experience fantastic for me. First, I would like to say that my love goes out to, but is not limited to, each and every one of you reading these words. Second, I want to celebrate you, me and the blog we share with a series of anniversary posts. Expect to see these within the next few hours:


I've stolen the title from the Frank Miller comic Batman: Year One, but where that comic tells the origin of Jim Gordon and his ally Batman, Cavemengo: Year One is dedicated to my influences, the blogs and bloggers who made the first year of Cavemengo possible.


Several friends of Cavemengo, including graphic artist Adam Friedli, have agreed to write short anecdotes regarding their time spent with the blog and some of the events that led up to particular blog posts. It takes a village, and I think it is fantastic that some of the village people are speaking out.


Cavemengo: Year Two is a look forward to what Cavemengo's second year holds in store for all of us. I've got some big projects coming up and I'd love it if you could be there with me when they come to fruition.

If you've been silently reading the blog, now is the time to let your voice be heard, be it a celebration or a criticism. Drop me a comment. Subscribe. Heck, unsubscribe if I'm not doing you right. Share Cavemengo with your friends. Tody I want to know who is out there, so make yourself known to Cavemengo in some overt way. Once I know you're out there it will be that much easier to send my love your way.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Adam Friedli's Aqua Post-Adolescent Hunger for Local Cuisine Team Force

or: How I Gave Up on Finding a Better Title and Learned to Love the Ludicrosity

In this photo: Justin Tiemeyer, Adam Friedli, But maybe not, Matthew Lunn, I'll let you judge, Amy Bolan

Super Bowl Trailers

I've already posted the Battle: Los Angeles super bowl spot, but there's no statute of limitations on the amount of times I can post a really cool trailer.

The super bowl also brought us another trailer for Cowboys & Aliens, written by LOST's Damon Lindelof.

I was most excited when I heard that we were going to see our first full trailer for J.J. Abrams' secretive film Super 8, which many are calling a tribute to classic Steven films, in particular E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

And while I'm still not completely sold on Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: the first trailer left my much more interested in the film than I am in the Thor film, whose super bowl spot I found uninteresting.

Role Models, Part Three

Role Models, Part One can be viewed here.
Role Models, Part Two can be viewed here.

One of the best days I've ever spent in Fort Worth, Texas was when good friend Chad invited me and mutual friend Rodney Thomas to his house for dinner. Aside from having a fantastic meal and discussion with Chad, his wife Christina and children Autumn and Mark, I saw an example of a fantastic, loving family in which the father, Chad, is able to be his own person, weird as he wants to be, and it all just works. Previously, I had feared that I would have to sacrifice a whole lot of my personal identity in order to be happily married with children. But Chad is a role model to me, a wonderful alien in this world who has courageously asserted himself as himself, making no such sacrifices as I'd imagined I'd have to make, and the result is not only a functional family, but a flourishing family. His children are so bright and passionate that I suddenly want to have children just so my progeny can inhabit the world Chad's children create. If you can't already tell, this evening left quite an impression on me.

Christina confessed that she and Chad have little in common outside of their children and their religious faith, but they could have fooled me. Chad is passionate about comic books, specifically Green Lantern, and it was clear just sitting at that dinner table that everyone present shared some degree of that passion. Christina kept up like a champ when the discussion digressed to DC comics. The kids were well-versed in Bible stories, but also in superhero stories. Autumn recited to us the Hebrew alphabet, and I have little doubt that she could say, with the same confidence, the noble oath of the Green Lantern Corps. Mark has recently become obsessed with the Batman villain Mr. Freeze after hearing the tragic story of his origin in the midst of trying to save his beloved wife Nora.

After dinner, we retired to the living room. As we watched two episodes of Batman: the Brave and the Bold, Chad and Autumn discussed how disrespectful it is when men whistle at women and when women wear unnecessarily revealing outfits (or rather, when people, most often men, draw women wearing unnecessarily revealing outfits). During commercials, Christina commented on a Wonder Woman article she was reading in Entertainment Weekly. After the kids went to bed, Rodney and I joined in on Chad and Christina's weekly Smallville viewing. Chad would later tell me that one of the keys to maintaining a lasting relationship with the one you love is doing things together beyond simply occupying the same space. Smallville appeared to be one of these activities for Chad and Christina.

At the end of the evening, I expressed to Chad my elation at meeting his family. I think I went so far as to say that Chad's family was the perfect family.

"It was a good night for us," Chad said, keeping everything in context. "They're not all like that. But yeah, I have a pretty great family."

I think Chad was being modest. The way that Chad's family looks at one another hides no disdain - they truly love one another and are interested in one another. With Chad and his fantastic family I find that I have both proven and disproven my previous point regarding the importance of stories over role models. On the one hand, the folk stories of the Bible mingle with comic book stories - perhaps the most pervasive modern/postmodern American folk stories that we have - as Chad and Christina breed in their children a culture of ethical consciousness. On the other hand, I see Chad as my role model, someone who lives a life similar to the life I'd like to live some day, whose example I feel inclined to imitate and whose advice I feel inclined to follow.

This seeming contradiction points to a point that has just now arisen in my consciousness, that having role models in and of itself is not the problem. The problem lies in removing the role model from the context in which the role model enacts its story and asserting some sort of moral infallibility, suggesting that the individual is incapable of doing wrong. Comic book character Hal Jordan / Green Lantern is just as responsible for the development of moral reasoning in those who read his narratives as are the narratives themselves, but if we believe he is always good, then we excuse all the terrible acts of murder and betrayal, many of which have since been undone in the comics, that he commits as Parallax the living embodiment of fear. Consider also Peter Parker / Spider-man facing his dark side in the guise of the alien symbiote known as Venom. I bring up Spider-man because more of us can relate to him. (Hal Jordan is a fearless monument of a man who would have been a hero regardless of whether or not he was given a ring of power from the Guardians, but Peter Parker was a normal kid when he was bitten by that radioactive spider. Whereas few among us are courageous, bold and creative enough to represent an entire sector of the universe as a Green Lantern, any passerby can fall victim to a radioactive spider and become Spider-man.) Peter Parker / Spider-man is bound by the responsibility his Uncle Ben taught him to do the right thing, but Venom tempts him to cut corners, to use his strength for social benefit, to betray the very responsibility that is such an integral part of Spider-man's origin story.

Rather than follow Green Lantern and Spider-man into their darkness, we as readers are expected to criticize their actions and the evil that results. Hal Jordan's greatest loss and Peter Parker's alien chemical dependency pose traps that any of us could fall into. But in these dark times, the reader actually becomes the Green Lantern to the fallen Green Lantern and the Spider-man to the fallen Spider-man. We know what is good about these heroes, and we use that good to become the heroes ourselves in their absence. (Let's hope that we're better heroes than Azrael in Batman's absence. Am I right?) We tell Hal Jordan that he's not being himself and we pray Peter Parker overcomes his temptation. When the hero is away we successfully fill the void by knowing how the fallen would act were the fallen not so fallen, how the fallen ought to if this darkness is to be overcome.

When I was young, my father would tell me Bible stories, but he also preached of the youthful and rebellious spirit of Peter Pan. My mother would speak of the great things my grandfather Paul Slater had done both for our community and for our family. Two years ago I was asked at a conference on world aid work what my goal in life was. I answered that my desire is to save the world. Was I informed by Jesus or Moses or grandpa or Peter Pan in aiming for this haughty goal? To some degree, yes, I was, but to a greater degree I was driven by Spider-man, the X-Men, Batman and Superman, by the stories I've heard that change the way I think and the person I have become. My brother David was told by the family members who revoked my parents' guardianship that comic books are evil. If good and evil are defined by the positive and negative impacts that our stories have brought about, I think Bibles might be considered much more evil than any comic book ever has been. I'm no history scholar (I dabble...), but I've never heard of a crusade devoted to wiping out all humans who support the Sinestro Corps or a war against the nation harboring the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

I've spent some time talking about my childhood, but in truth this whole discussion on role models stems from my own desire to have children. I often wonder if I'll be too controlling, seeing danger in all the choices of my future hypothetical offspring. Or perhaps I'll be too laid back, perceiving freedom where there is only lack of guidance. In the end I think I'll follow Chad's lead. I'll love my family with all my heart and provide them with only the best stories I've ever come across, regardless of their holy or profane source. When they get into something I'm not familiar with, probably some Disney channel fad or something, I'll try to keep up with it too. most of all, I will talk with my children. It seems to work well for Chad, and in retrospect it worked really well in my upbringing as well. (I still have fond memories of watching X-Files with my mother every Friday / Sunday night.) Maybe in the process I'll become a role model for my kids. I suppose nothing is impossible when you live a life worthy of telling in story form.

More Battle: Los Angeles Trailers

This is the first movie of the year that I'm actually excited about. January brought me DC Universe Online. February brought my Radiohead The King of Limbs. March brings me potentially the first good film of the 2011 (although Green Hornet was surprisingly funny): Battle: Los Angeles.

Rabbit Hole (2010)

Arnold 365, Day 51 (Conan the Barbarian)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Amy Adams

Actress Amy Adams. In the recent batch of fantastic actresses, Amy Adams is one of the few who has yet to entirely sell out (possible exception: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian). I first noticed her in a less-known film called Junebug, and have followed her, only occasionally confusing her with Isla Fisher, through Enchanted, Sunshine Cleaning, Doubt, and Julie & Julia. As a matter of fact, Adams may have single-handedly saved the film Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby with such fantastic scenes as the make out scene to the tune of Journey's "Faithfully," and such brilliant lines as, "How exactly does one get kicked out of an Applebees?" In the film The Fighter, Amy Adams summons some of the trash of Talladega Nights and combines it with the skill of Doubt and delivers one of the best performances of the year, and here's the big surprise: the Academy got it right and decided to nominate her for Best Supporting Actress.

Bug (2006)