18 February 2014

A History of Godzilla on Film, Part 4: The Heisei Era (1984–1996)

Other Installments

The Underwhelming Comeback: The Return of Godzilla (1984) and Godzilla 1985

After an absence of nine years, Godzilla smashed back onto screens in 1984 in a film simply titled Godzilla (Gojira) in Japan, but marketed as The Return of Godzilla to English-speaking markets. In modern movie lingo, The Return of Godzilla is a reboot. It wipes from continuity all the previous G-films except Godzilla ’54 and fashions a new continuity: The Heisei Series.

The new movies developed a recognizable style, but The Return of Godzilla looks different from the installments that followed. Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka aimed to capture the somber tone of the 1954 original and transplant the Godzilla nuclear metaphor into the 1980s Cold War. The monster, having somehow survived Dr. Yamane’s Oxygen Destroyer thirty years past, heads back toward Japan, squeezing the island country between the nuclear superpowers of the U.S. and Soviet Union. Scientists and the Japanese Self-Defense Force race to find a way to stop Godzilla before a greater nuclear confrontation arises.

It’s an ambitious, admirable premise. The actual movie fails to live up to it, either as a serious tale or as a monster show. While the Cold War background is intriguing, the human action is bland and no character stands out. The exception is the Japanese Prime Minister, whose scenes dealing with the U.S. and Soviet envoys evoke a true sense of Japan’s awareness of it legacy in the atomic ago. Otherwise, the time spent away from Godzilla is a stodgy bore of people sitting around talking about all the things they aren’t doing, handled with workman like direction from series newcomer Koji Hashimoto.

20 January 2014

Godzilla Interruption: All Monsters Attack (Godzilla’s Revenge)

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

I now interrupt my continuing “History of Godzilla on Film” to bring you an Up Close and Personal look at one particular movie: 1969’s All Monsters Attack, also known as Godzilla’s Revenge.

It’s seems like an out-of-left field pick, since this movie has a poor reputation among the kaiju fans. As film historian Richard Pusateri says on the audio commentary for the current DVD: “Fans cannot decide if this is the worst movie of the series, or the second worst.”

However, I picked this movie for spotlight attention because it rarely receives any attention. Most Godzilla fans have seen it all the way through only once—probably in the English-dubbed version—and then left it on the shelf. With its chunks of stock footage lifted from earlier Godzilla films, fantasy elements that relegate the monsters to existence only in the imagination, and q target audience of third- and fourth-grade children, ­All Monsters Attack is easy for adult viewers to dismiss.

However, the movie contains elements unique among the classic Godzilla series that make it worthy of discussion. And for good or bad, it does have SF legend Ishiro Honda in the director’s chair in his penultimate Godzilla movie.

So let us go pay a visit to late-1960s industrialized Japan and meet a bullied latchkey kid with dreams of monsters.

16 January 2014

A History of Godzilla on Film, Part 3: Down and Out in Osaka (1969–1983)

Other Installments
Part 3: The Heisei Era (1984–1997)

Sayanora, Tsubaraya—and Sayanora, Golden Age of Japanese Cinema

The end of the Golden Age of Japanese Giant Monster movies coincided with the end of the most productive era for the Japanese film industry. Starting in the early 1950s, the country’s film industry experienced a meteoric rise. The major studios released a combined average of 450 movies to theaters each year. But the growth of television in the 1960s started to erode film attendance. In the late-‘60s, audience levels dropped precipitously, numerous theaters closed, and the studios faced cutbacks. Contract directors and stars were released, departments were scaled down or eliminated, and the studio responsible for the “Gamera” and “Daimajin” films, Daiei, was forced out of business entirely.

Science-fiction and monster movies had it particularly rough because of the growth of television. Popular superhero TV shows offered a cheaper alternative for young audiences to get their giant monster fix. The children who increasingly made up the viewership for Godzilla movies could now see kaiju action daily from their living rooms.

Ironically, the person most responsible for the growth of SF television was Eiji Tsubaraya, Toho Studio’s master of visual effects and one of the four “Godzilla Fathers.” Tsubaraya formed his own independent company, Tsubaraya Productions, in 1963 to create special-effects television programs. The 1966 hit show Ultra Q led to the monumental success of Ultraman the next year. Each week, Ultraman pitted its giant-sized title hero against a new monster. Clone shows sprouted everywhere, and the monsters of cinema screens started to bring in less money.

In January 1970, Eiji Tsubaraya died. Minoru Nakano, one of Tsubaraya’s protégées, recalled: “I respected him so deeply. My world was Eiji Tsubaraya. He was that important. When he died, I didn’t know how to live.” It seemed Japanese science-fiction films didn’t quite know how to live after Tsubaraya’s death either, although they struggled on. Toho shut down its once legendary Special Effects Department, the place where Tsubaraya once ruled over a kingdom of fantasy films. In its place was a smaller unit with restricted budgets. The Godzilla series continued, but at only a fraction of its former splendor.

06 January 2014

A History of Godzilla on Film, Part 2: The Golden Age (1963–1968)

Welcome back… the double holiday interruption delayed this march across (and on top of) the Tokyo skyline. But now the Big-G is back and about to enter the Golden Age of Japanese Fantasy Cinema and the peak of kaiju movie greatness.

Other Installments

The Godzilla Masterpiece: Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

The astronomical success of King Kong vs. Godzilla made Toho Studios commit to yearly Godzilla movies for the rest of the decade, as well as increasing their giant monster output in general. The studio shifted away from broader science-fiction epics like The Mysterians: the same year that King Kong vs. Godzilla ignited the box-office, Toho’s more ambitious and expensive science-fiction movie from the team of director Ishiro Honda and special effects creator Eiji Tsubaraya, Gorath, made a poorer showing. From now on, Toho would push that they had monsters and were ready to hurl them against each other for audience’s viewing pleasure.

After briefly considering King Kong re-match, G-series producer Tomoyuki Tanaka turned to a hometown hero: Mothra, the monster-goddess from the popular 1961 Ishiro Honda film of the same name. Mothra was the point where the Japanese kaiju film came into its own as a specific cultural style different from the U.S. model that first inspired it. The lovely yet powerful Mothra was a perfect foe to put in the opposite corner from Godzilla—at least in terms of box-office appeal. From a story and special-effects perspective, it was a trickier idea: Godzilla fighting a giant mystical moth?

But the creative team came through in an astonishing way: Mothra vs. Godzilla is the height of the Godzilla series and one of the finest monster epics ever put on film. This is the movie to show people at the start of a Godzilla odyssey, since it captures so well the Japanese interpretation of the giant monster genre, has Godzilla at his most charismatic yet menacing, and is more fun than most amusement parks.  Eiji Tsubaraya was at his zenith with visual effects; after some wonky optical work in King Kong vs. Godzilla, the effects here are seamless, especially the scenes featuring the miniature Twin Fairies (the shobijin, played by pop singing duo the Peanuts). The two monster battles, with Godzilla against the adult Mothra and then against two larval Mothras, are thrillingly staged and scored.

16 December 2013

A History of Godzilla on Film, Part 1: Origins (1954–1962)

Other Installments
Part 2: The Golden Age (1963–1968)
Part 3: Down and Out in Osaka (1969–1983)
Part 4: The Heisei Era (1984–1997)
With the release of the teaser trailer for the upcoming Godzilla from Warner Bros. and Legendary pictures, a decade of cinematic silence has come to an end. Godzilla last appeared in 2004 in the Japanese movie Godzilla: Final Wars, which Toho Studios intended as the monster’s final bow before going on sabbatical. It’s the longest break in the iconic monster’s career, and regardless of what happens next, the forthcoming Godzilla ’14 is a reason for G-fans to celebrate. Maybe stomp a few cities. The trailer makes San Francisco look particularly stomp-able.

At this point, we only know as much about Godzilla ’14 as we’ve seen in the teaser. But it was an exciting glimpse that at least assured fans the new movie would not repeat the horrible mistakes of the first American attempt at a stateside Godzilla, the 1998 Roland Emmerich disaster.

This is the first of five (projected) installments covering the history of Godzilla on film, written and condensed for a broad audience. I hope these articles will help readers who have only a passing relationship with Godzilla—the general knowledge from pop culture osmosis—see the unusual variety of one of the longest and most durable film franchises in history. Many of my readers are probably familiar with much of the information I’ll provide in these articles, but since I’ll also sling around my own opinions about the movies mixed in with the history, Godzilla fans may find parts of this worthwhile… if perhaps only to ignite arguments.

11 December 2013

The Vincent Price Collection: Pit and the Pendulum

Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
Directed by Roger Corman. Screenplay by Richard Matheson. Starring Vincent Price, John Kerr, Barbara Steele, Luana Anders.

I should move faster on the films in Shout! Factory’s Vincent Price Collection Blu-ray set. But once Halloween drifts past, you can’t spend all your time on horror films. And now it’s December. Oh well.

Anyway, moving on.… Now that the House of Usher has fallen, it’s time to lower the pendulum.

(To be a stickler about the title, although advertised as The Pit and the Pendulum, the onscreen title has no first “The,” and therefore I will treat it as such.)

Pit and the Pendulum, the second of the Corman-AIP-Poe cycle, faced a larger adaptation problem than The Fall of the House of Usher. Where Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” contains enough story to create a beginning-middle-end structure, “The Pit and the Pendulum” is more typical of the author’s adherence to storytelling economy. Essentially, the short story is a great finale for a movie, but has nothing before that. Screenwriter Richard Matheson needed to craft an original opening and middle in order to create a full movie. What he devised feels like Poe, with a man character dropping down into madness, and it stays within the Spanish Inquisition setting of the short story and its emphasis on torture. I don’t beleive a better feature length film could be fashioned from the material.

10 December 2013

Godzilla ‘14 Teaser Trailer Is Here and Life Is Good

You might not have noticed it, because you don’t read my blog often, but Godzilla is sort of a huge big damn bloody deal to me.

Well, Godzilla is just plain huge to anybody, especially if you are in its way.

That’s why I hovered over my keyboard today at 10 a.m., hands palsied, awaiting the premiere of the first teaser trailer for the new Hollywood Godzilla from director Gareth Edwards. And… when the camera at last found the great lengths of the Japanese leviathan looming through the rubble of its devastation, and the beast let loose the legendary roar… I also roared out loud with him at the top of my lungs.

I was at work, mind you. Some impulses cannot be stopped. We’re a loose workplace, fortunately. They expect weird actions from their writers.

There’s no need to describe the trailer further—you can behold it for yourself—except to say that using György Ligeti’s “Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, 2 Mixed Choirs and Orchestra” for the HALO-drop opening is perfect. This music is best known for its use as the “monolith theme” in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and is anything more monolithic than Godzilla? (As a hardcore Stanley Kubrick fan as well, this slammed my geek-meter up to “Do Not Pull This Lever Again.”)

Although the trailer leaves many open questions, as any early teaser trailer should (will Walter White have to move the cook now that a monster has stomped it?), it does show that Gareth Edwards and company have created a genuine interpretation of the figure of Godzilla.

This is crucial: there are many different Godzilla interpretations since the beast first crashed onto Japanese screens in 1954. Godzilla has served as a nuclear metaphor, a force of nature, a butt-kicking anti-hero, a child friendly superhero, and a near-demonic force. All of these are legitimate interpretations of Godzilla, who can absorb many concepts and channel many human emotions. I prefer some versions to others, but as a dedicated G-fan, I can find some enjoyment in all of them.

What isn’t acceptable: not interpreting Godzilla at all. This was the major failure of the 1998 Roland Emmerich-Dean Devlin disaster. The filmmakers did not care about Godzilla whatsoever—its history, its importance, or even why people liked it. They wanted to create their own monster and do their own thing with a popular brand name attached. The fans and the public rejected their crass endeavor. If you make a film titled Godzilla, you must interact with Godzilla in some way.

And this trailer tells me that’s what the new Godzilla is doing. They are going for a 1954 version (perhaps without the radioactivity metaphor that is less timely than it was for Japan in the ‘50s) that emphasizes the beast’s catastrophic effect on everyday people. This was a key part of the power of Ishiro Honda’s original movie and if Godzilla ’14 can capture even a quarter of that film’s epic, bleak power, it will be a winner.

I couldn’t be more ecstatic. Come get in line for the first screening with me right now.

For the sequel: Godzilla doing flying jump kicks and shaking hands with a giant robot! Like I said, legitimate interpretation.

25 November 2013

Flash Review: Hangover Square

Hangover Square (1945)
Directed by John Brahm. Starring Laird Cregar, Linda Darnell, George Sanders, Faye Marlowe, Alan Napier.

I've wanted to watch Hangover Square for years, ever since I first heard Bernard Herrmann’s “Piano Concerto Macabre,” a concert piece based on his score. The concept of the music as part of the plot—it’s the concerto the tortured main character is composing—made it more intriguing.

However, before I rented the film, I read Patrick Hamilton's 1941 novel. It’s a fabulous work of World War II British fiction… and the movie bears only superficial resemblances to it. I appreciate the film as a well-fashioned “period noir” that melds psychological drama with the Victorian Gothic, but most of what makes the novel such a grim experience is highly romanticized on screen.

Hamilton's novel tells about the British lower class in a boozy slog toward the outbreak of World War II (the final chapter occurs on the day Britain declares war on Germany), seen through the eyes of the pathetic, jobless George Harvey Bone, a man with occasional episodes of psychotic black-outs. Bone has enslaved himself to a trashy actress named Netta Longdon who leads him on just to get drinks and food out of him. Hamilton weaves in the growth of fascism as a theme, making for a vivid portrait of Britain on the edge of the abyss.

19 November 2013

Visting the Site of the Crash: John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars

Ghosts of Mars (2001)
Directed by John Carpenter. Starring Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham, Pam Grier, Clea DuVall, Joanna Cassidy.

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

I thought writing two John Carpenter articles in a row was sufficient. I had a strong enough excuse to go two-for-two with Carpenter because of the Blu-ray debuts of Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness, films that have developed a growing and appreciative fan base. The idea of doing a third article on a John Carpenter film, let alone one on the critically rejected Ghosts of Mars… no that never crossed my mind when I penciled in on my calendar, “Blu-rays for PoD and ItMoM! Write for Black Gate!”

However, enthusiastic comments on both Black Gate and Facebook made it imperative I complete a John Carpenter on Blu-ray trilogy of articles.

(Oh, wait: Assault on Precinct 13 arrives on Blu-ray today. Should I go for four in a row? Or instead do that examination of the Russian animated film The Snow Queen in time for the release of Frozen? I wish more of life’s dilemmas were of this type.)

Watching Ghosts of Mars on Blu-ray was my first time seeing the movie since August 2001, when it managed to hold onto multiplex screens for a week. The horrific opening weekend—coming in ninth place—meant Ghosts of Mars rapidly evaporated into the thin atmosphere, leaving a carbon blast mark people interpreted as the end of John Carpenter’s career. The $28 million science-fiction action/horror film managed a dismal $14 million global gross. Yes, global. Even in a career like Carpenter’s, filled with disappointing box-office returns, Ghost of Mars crashed epically. The critical and audience reaction was also murderous; it seemed unlikely the film would join some of Carpenter’s other financial disappointments like The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China in future fan appreciation.

Yet Carpenter has always had a reputation for being ahead of his time. Was it now time for Ghosts of Mars? Did the passage of twelve years give the film a better sheen, offer more to digest?

29 October 2013

The Vincent Price Collection: The Fall of the House of Usher

The Fall of the House of Usher (1960)
Directed by Roger Corman. Screenplay by Richard Matheson. Starring Vincent Price, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey, Harry Ellerbe.

Shout! Factory has delivered some wonderful treats on Blu-ray in time for the Halloween season: Psycho II, Prince of Darkness, and a six-movie set of Vincent Price classics, The Vincent Price Collection. The set includes four entries from the Edgar Allan Poe/Roger Corman/AIP series (actually, The Haunted Palace comes from an H. P. Lovecraft story, but AIP slapped the title of an obscure Poe poem onto it to make it another entry in the cycle) as two later films, The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Witchfinder General, which I consider the best film in Mr. Price’s prodigious filmography.

But where to start watching? Chronologically, of course. That tends to be my answer for ordering anything. Shout! Factory has the films somewhat out of order, probably to best fit the six movies across four discs, and so the first film in the set is the second of the AIP/Corman/Poe series, Pit and the Pendulum. But you can’t fool me, I know The Fall of the House of Usher comes first, so into the Blu-ray tray it goes!

The Fall of the House of Usher (first released as House of Usher, but the print on the Blu-ray uses the longer title so I’ll go with that) represents a major moment for U.S. horror, as well as for director Roger Corman, production company American International Pictures, and star Vincent Price. None of these entities were strangers to macabre cinema, but Usher brought on a new era of popularity and high production values for all of them. The AIP series essentially became the stateside version of Britain’s burgeoning Hammer horrors: colorful, Gothic, lurid. It broke from the 1950s modern, SF-based approach to horror, and would remain the dominant style of horror movies until the next shift in fear occurred with Night of the Living Dead at the close of the decade.

28 October 2013

In the Mouth of Madness on Blu-ray and Other Reasons to Go Stark Raving Mad

In the Mouth of Madness (1995)
Directed by John Carpenter. Starring Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jürgen Prochnow, David Warner, Bernie Casey, John Glover, Peter Jason, Charlton Heston.

“Believe me, the sooner we’re off the planet, the better.”
—John Trent (Sam Neill) in In the Mouth of Madness

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

John Carpenter is a master filmmaker, one of the most influential genre directors to emerge from the cloudburst of creativity of the 1970s. You’d be hard-pressed to find a science-fiction or horror fan who doesn’t have one of Carpenter’s movies in his or her list of Top [Fill in Number] Films list.

But Carpenter’s popularity has created the illusion that his films achieved greater financial success when first released than they did. The unfortunate truth is Carpenter has had only a few outright hits: Escape from New York, Assault on Precinct 13, and Halloween are the most notable. Halloween throws off the curve: Carpenter’s third feature, it grossed $65 million during its initial domestic run against a budget of $325,000—and it continues to generate revenue to this day. Halloween also influenced genre movies immediately, igniting the massive “slasher boom.”

But many of Carpenter’s finest and most beloved movies did middling-to-flop business when they premiered. The Thing, rightfully considered his masterpiece, was a financial disappointment for Universal in the summer of 1982. Big Trouble in Little China was an outright box-office disaster. And through the ‘90s, Carpenter could not catch a break with anything. After 2001’s Ghosts of Mars did a spectacular belly flop (a worldwide—yes, worldwide—gross of $14 million against a $28 million budget), Carpenter went into semi-retirement to play videogames and watch the Lakers. He has only returned to directing for two episodes of Masters of Horror on Showtime and the barely released and very uninteresting feature The Ward in 2011.

However, the march of appreciation for his movies in their post-premiere years continues. I believe we can now safely deposit one of his 1990s movies in the vault of John Carpenter Classics: In the Mouth of Madness, which debuted on Blu-ray last week. Carpenter fans have often dubbed it the director’s last great movie, and although I hope that’s incorrect and he still has a surprise waiting for us, the title seems apt. I certainly haven’t seen anything Carpenter has done since that remotely approaches it in quality.

21 October 2013

I’ve Got a Message for You, And You’re Going to Like It: John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness on Blu-ray

Prince of Darkness (1987)
Written and Directed by John Carpenter. Starring Donald Pleasance, Victor Wong, Jameson Parker, Lisa Blount, Dennis Dun, Alice Cooper.

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

“Are you asking me about the backstory of the movie? I have no idea.”
—John Carpenter on the commentary track for Prince of Darkness

This week, with the release of In the Mouth of Madness, all of director John Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy” movies will have reached Blu-ray. The Thing came out a few years ago (from Universal Home Video, doing a better-than-average job), and at the end of September, right in time for the crisp joys of October, Shout! Factory released 1987’s Prince of Darkness—one of Carpenter’s most underrated films.

(His most underrated film? In the Mouth of Madness. More on that in a week or so.)

The apocalypse trilogy films have no connection to each other aside from Carpenter’s interest in events that might bring about the end of the world, a hangover from his childhood fascination with the wild n’ wooly contents of the biblical Book of Revelation. The Thing threatened the globe with a shape-changing alien nasty capable a rapidly assimilating the human race. In the Mouth of Madness brought the Great Old Ones back in full Lovecraftian form, but also undermined all of reality through the power of fiction.

In Prince of Darkness, it would seem that Old Scratch himself is the force preparing to annihilate humanity. After all, what else to make of the title? But Prince of Darkness ends up confronting Earth with a destroyer as much imbedded in science fiction as The Thing. Carpenter combines Catholic-themed religious horror with, of all things, quantum mechanics. The resulting film frequently makes little sense—even John Carpenter acknowledges that—but when viewed as a deep well of bizarre ideas and unnerving atmosphere, it stands as one of the most creative horror films of its decade. I now rank it among Carpenter’s best movies, although it took me a few years to grasp its achievements and shrug off its faults.

Q: The Winged Serpent on Blu-ray

Q (1982)
Written, Produced, and Directed by Larry Cohen. Starring Michael Moriarty, David Carradine, Candy Clark, Richard Roundtree.

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

You want to know something that rocks? Actually, two things that rock, at least in my little world:

1. The Chrysler Building

2. Giant Monsters

So when you have a movie about a giant flying monster nesting in the Chrysler Building, you have something that rocks so hard it makes Van Halen sound like One Direction. Again, at least in my little world.

Video distributor Shout! Factory continued its stellar series of classic B-movie releases on Blu-ray in September with the HD debut of Q. This 1982 sleeper hit, concerning the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl (or a non-god of the same name) appearing in New York City as a humungous flying snake that likes to snap the heads off window washers and topless sunbathers, was always crying out for Shout! Factory to pluck it up.

The company has packaged the film with its alternate marketing title, Q: The Winged Serpent, and repeated the original tagline over the Boris Vallejo artwork: “It’s name is Quetzalcoatl… Just call it ‘Q’… that’s all you’ll have time to say before it tears you apart!” However, Shout! Factory fixed the original poster’s grammatical error, correcting It’s to Its. That is one of the few disappointments I have with their presentation of this nifty low budget flick; I know Shout! Factory doesn’t want to seem careless on the cover for their product, but that grammatical glitch adds charm to the story of a clueless low-life criminal/jazz pianist who holds New York hostage with a winged snake.

17 October 2013

I Gave in and Got a tumblr. It’s about Movies

I now have my own tumblr, something I thought I would never do. But I wanted to keep track of all the movies I see—whether in a theater, on video, or through streaming—so I put together a simple tumblr blog where I’ll put up posters and Blu-ray covers and off a few comments. I’d love to review every movie I see on my website, but I don’t have the time.

So if you’re interested in what I’m watching and reading a few of my thoughts about it, check out The Shapers Watch Movies.

The Blog Silence—It Was a Good Thing

Hey everybody, I’m back from my blogging vacation. I have an explanation, and it’s a positive one.

I got a new job. And for the first time in fifteen years, I moved.

It wasn’t an enormous geographical re-location: I moved from West Los Angeles to Costa Mesa in Orange County. There’s a fifty-minute drive between the two (in good traffic). Nonetheless, it was still a major operation, and since I’ve lived in Los Angeles since I was four years old, it was a significant mental shift. Orange County isn’t much like Los Angeles County, even though they’re side-by-side.

Despite the difficulties I had with moving out of my long-time hometown, I’ve benefited tremendously in other ways. I now have a steady job with regular hours and good pay—and it’s a writing job. Yes, I nailed down a day job where I spend all day doing nothing but writing. It isn’t fiction, unfortunately; I haven’t struck that gold vein yet. The work is for a marketing company. I handle writing the web content for our clients, along with three other writers. The company’s offices are located in the middle of Irvine’s commercial district, two blocks from the massive Irvine Spectrum Center. It’s not a dream job, but it’s better than any day job I’ve held in the last ten years.

I’ve also moved into an apartment far nicer than my Century City digs. I have actual space now—and I didn’t realize how much I mentally needed it. My former apartment was located in a great location, but the apartment itself was cramped, ancient, and horribly insulated. My copious piles of books crawled across the floor to find room, and the air conditioner wheezed and huffed to cool the space down to “barely tolerable.” The new apartment doesn’t feel oppressive, so even in the less engaging environs (how many Subway sandwich places can congregate in one neighborhood?) I have a much sunnier attitude. And the apartment complex has a pool!

Now that things have settled down after a month and a half of adjustments and shifting and heavy boxes sagging from the weight of tomes of knowledge and schlocky adventure, I hope to get the blog active once more. I enjoy writing my posts, and didn’t like that keeping the blog updated had to drop to such a low priority during the last two months.