get your vaccination

vaccine  (ˈvæksiːn)

n

1.

a suspension of dead, attenuated, or otherwise modified microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, or rickettsiae) for inoculation to produce immunity to a disease by stimulating the production of antibodies

Vaccine is the first book in a series which portrays the collapse of civilization in the Adirondacks.

For many years, our susceptibility to viruses has generated fear that a pandemic Superflu could devastate life as we know it.  Controversial precautions, like vaccines, exist to insure our safety and survival.  But what if there was another purpose?  What if the corporation which makes the drug meant to protect us let their fiscal imperative take them too far?  What if, even more than a drive for money, forces at work conspired to reshape our lives into something else?

In this chilling first novel set in the North Country a group of strangers confront these possibilities.  After a retired Special Operative turns up dead, several law enforcement officials and ordinary citizens find themselves connected to each other as a flu virus called “RyLi” infects the region and their fates begin to unfold.

At first mere pawns in a deadly game, our heroes decide to take matters into their own hands, and begin to uncover the truth behind the vaccine…

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Vaccine will be no longer be available through the author, since it is currently being considered for publication with an independent press.  5/30/12

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“This is the book to end all End Times books…”

– Anonymous person I made up

the girl with the dragon tattoo

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Dir: David Fincher
Wr: Steven Zallian, from the book by Steig Larson
Release Date: December 21, 2011
RT: 158 mins

David Fincher is unmatched as a director.  Helming The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will surely garner him the awards and the recognition for a unique and visionary body of work.

Okay, enough of that shit.  Dragon Tattoo is a badass movie.  And the eponymous “girl with” is truly our best antihero yet – and she wears the t-shirt to prove it.

My jaw was hanging for scenes during the film which do what filmmaker marvels like Fincher are capable of doing – wielding those master strokes.  It’s a bit sad when this is the first movie of the year I’ve felt my cold, dead movie-going corpse stirred into action.  Previous years saw the best fare packed into the last month or two of the year – this is nothing new.  That Dragon Tattoo is one of a drastically shrinking tribe of noteworthy American movies, though, is a subject for another time.

We start the film with where Fincher started out in his career – with a brutally gorgeous music video.  The opening title sequence is a feast for senses.  The soundtrack kicks sonic ass and the smooth, sexy, dangerous images roll out and pour over you, the black ink Fincher is about to paint with raw and shining.

Then we are dropped right into it.  You mentally prepare yourself for two hours and forty minutes of people talking and figuring things out.  Fincher likes these stories.  He likes the complex.  After cutting his directorial teeth on music videos, he was hired to do Alien 3, which launched not only what would become his signature aesthetic (drab color sets, sepia hues and an almost Spartan  spatiality blended with a kind of 60s Polaroid) but a sense of taking the potentially tedious and making it thrilling.  How do you sell a story about two women trapped in a room for two hours?  With Panic Room Fincher’s camera lives inside the enormous apartment it inhabits like a spirit, roaming through solid objects, dropping three flights through the floors which separate them.  Se7en still stands as one of the best crime thrillers ever made (it’s always raining) and both Zodiac and The Social Network are examples of taking an intricate story with a plethora of details and fitting those into a style of shooting, editing, and scoring which serves them to the utmost.

Dragon Tattoo is a rock star film.  Those magic moments burn like hot needles.  I mean, the girl chases down the dude with the bashed jaw on her frikkin motorcycle through the wintry night like a fireball vigilante.

Stieg Larsson’s tattooed heroine “Lisbeth” is the answer to every femme fatale who’s emerged since the 80s and 90s and has been as two-dimensional as the supporting or secondary characters the female actors were relegated to before then.  This is no sword-wielding, one-liner-spouting uberchick in a skin tight diving suit here.  Lisbeth is dimensional, somehow there and yet not there, as real as the person sitting next to you in the theatre and yet larger than life.  She is vulnerable, tough as nails, quiet as ink draining down a well.

There was giggling going on in that theatre during some of those silences, I have to say.  Tittering from some of the anonymous in the low dark.  No doubt quite a few viewers were tickled to see the book which had lived in their minds come to life on screen, no doubt they were happy to have the insider info, so much that they had to squeak a little bit trying to contain their foresight.

I didn’t read the book.  I’m glad not to have.  The story was fresh and unpredictable.  I’m sure I would have enjoyed it either way, but the pleasure, I really felt, was all mine.  And I didn’t need to laugh.

I didn’t laugh when the old man, Henrik, offers Mikael the job, and talks about the sordid, unsavory, corrupt group of people called his family.  Nor when, meanwhile, Lisbeth is being taken advantage of by her case worker, equally deranged and corrupt.  Not even when she reverses the situation on him with the most satisfying kind of revenge was I laughing, no.  My eyes were wide, my breathing shallow; I took it in.

Fincher got to play.  I mean, he really got to play.  I remember reading somewhere hearing the 50 year-old saying that he has a dark side he’s only begun to tap.  The unflinching way in which he portrays some of Larsson’s macabre scenes are Fincher with full command of both his craft and his demons.  When the moments hit, they are sudden, like an assault in the night.  They are immediate; nothing is telegraphed, nothing is gratuitously drawn out.  You can feel the man behind the scenes making these excellent choices, knowing all too well where just another who-done-it has gone before, and making the better decision.  It’s a pleasure to watch because you are being respected.  To both Larsson and Fincher’s credit, in Dragon Tattoo, people act like people.  When they are hurt, often they are scared.  They may run.  When they don’t get what they want, they get pissed.

Again, a shame that this is all there is really to talk about after an entire year of cinema.  Oh, sure, there were a couple flicks which stood out, here and there, but this was the one.  And it’s not like Dragon Tattoo is in the most unblemished company – the top ten grossing films of 2011 were all sequels, and Dragon Tattoo, as we all know, is adapted material, it’s a remake, and it’s one of at least two more to come in the franchise, so we’re talking about another bandwagon movie.

Maybe that’s why this first story ends as suddenly as it begins.  Maybe that’s why Fincher took the project on – seeing it as a chance to keep flexing these toned muscles and stay living in the smoky, olive-drab atmosphere his characters inhabit as long as he can.  Or, maybe this is Fincher’s only contribution to what will undoubtedly be another juggernaut, another gravy train.  Who knows.  Who cares. The movie is brilliant.  And the girl with the dragon tattoo likely wouldn’t give a shit one way or the other.

top 5 holiday movies…with explosions

Once upon a time, It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street reigned supreme as the movie staples for that snowy, jingly, pine-needly time of year.  They heralded and endorsed the Holiday Season in the way only Hollywood can.

That time is no more.  While a stammering Jimmy Stewart and that adorable little girl on 34th Street will live forever in our hearts, it’s time for them to move over on the holiday-viewing shelf to make room for a new crop of classics…

With explosions.

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seven

My son brings home a cookie he made at school that looks like it fell off a truck.  It’s supposed to be for Christmas, I think, because the white frosting and red sprinkles have glommed together in a way that should have a police line cordoning off the area.

One morning before school, my son entertains himself with a stray puff of goose down.  He realizes the goose down can ride the wind of one of our electric heat throwers, and so he carefully ministers to its flight, running around it and blowing on it to keep it afloat on the hot air current.  He has incredible insights and questions, the kind of halting questions you wouldn’t even think to ask.  “When was the first math problem?”  That’s a good question – the dawn of math.  He’s always wondering what the first of something was, when it began, concerned with origins.  Math is difficult; his old man failed Calculus twice and dropped out in the third round, so it’s not hugely surprising the kid is already getting frustrated over subtraction.

His reading and writing skills are stellar.  His interests vary from day to day, but he’s enthusiastic about everything.  About buying everything, for one thing – he shops in catalogs on the living room floor, lying on his stomach, his feet sticking up.  He wants to play the drums, he wants to be an X-ray doctor, he wants to throw clay pots.  Seven is a truly special age.  Contained in seven is the innocence and enthusiasm of early childhood.  He is just a little boy, bright and full of energy, completely forgiving and almost always in the moment, yet he is becoming a young person, and worries about things he didn’t before.  He can turn the tables on his parents, he can sense what he does not have, and his traits are forming more distinctly.  It’s the dawn of reason, so they say, and it will likely take many years from now before he learns to look beyond reason and acquire faith, though in some ways, he already has it.