Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cinematic wonders circa 2011

I have had a tradition since 1985 of making a best films of the year list. It used to be a top 10 list. Then it morphed into a top 5 as it became increasingly difficult to cite ten great movies in any one given year. Now I simply make a list of favorites. I am a picky bastard. Every scene has to work. The direction right down to the shot selection needs to be spot on. The casting perfect. The cinematography, the music, the sets, the locations, the thematic substance....all of it matters. But above all, it simply has to resonate on an emotional, intellectual, or visceral level in a way that will leave me walking out of theater moved, exhilarated, and satisfied. These are the movies of 2011 that worked for me.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Directed by Rupert Wyatt
Screenplay by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver
Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle and characters created by Paul Dehn

Not since A.I Artificial Intelligence in 2001 have I thought this much about a film after seeing it. Caesar is an unforgettable character and Rise of the Apes is not just a well crafted, expertly paced, exciting, beautifully directed blockbuster. It is full of iconic moments including an emotional finale that will be etched into cinematic history. At its heart Rise is a coming age of story that resonates with deep emotion. It is a film about family, home, tragedy, separation, finding one's place in the world, and so much more.

The Debt
Directed by John Madden
Screenplay by Matthew VaughnJane Goldman and Peter Straughan

The shrewdly directed, expertly acted film ranks alongside Zodiac (2007) and Michael Clayton (2007) as one of the best adult thrillers of the past decade. Why this pulse pounding action movie did not get more attention is beyond me. The screenplay is smart, Helen Mirren is fantastic and Jesper Christensen is terrifyingly real as the best on screen Nazi villain in years.

The Descendants
Directed by Alexander Payne
Screenplay by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.
Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt)  is the best real life filmmaker of our time. There is no better way to phrase the unique blend of pathos, humor, drama, awkwardness, laughter, and heartbreak that he brings to his films. He is literally a modern day Francois Truffaut. The Descendants is yet another in a long line of knockout performances by George Clooney  going back over a decade (Solaris, Michael Clayton, Up in the Air, The American ). He is one of the great leading men of our time, and a movie star in every sense of the word, breathing unique life into every scene he touches.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Directed by Brad Bird
Written by Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec
Based on Mission Impossible created by Bruce Geller

Mission Impossible is the rarest of all rarities, a franchise that actually gets better with each succeeding film. But Ghost Protocol is so much more than just the best Mission Impossible movie. It stands alongside Casino Royal as the one of the two best action movie movies of the past two decades. Brad Bird has directed the best non-Cameron action sequences I have ever seen on the big screen. Ghost Protocol is simply dazzling. 

The Help
Directed by Tate Taylor
Screenplay by Tate Taylor
Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett

Anchored by a knockout cast including rising star Emma Stone, the sleeper smash The Help is proof that quality does count. Make a great film, word will spread, and they will come. There was a great late summer stretch where Rise of the Apes and The Help were one and two week in and week out. It reminded me of August 1982 when E.T. and An Officer and a Gentleman were in a similar battle. Great stuff! One of the most underrated actresses in all of film is Viola Davis. She is fantastic in The Help. Thanks to the enormous success of the movie, this unsung actress is finally getting some long overdue recognition.

Life in a Day
Directed by Kevin Macdonald and the YouTube Community
Produced by Ridley Scott

This trailer says it all. If ever there was a time to use the old Joel Siegel quote "the feel good movie of the year", then this is it. Life in a day is the feel good movie of the year!

Super 8
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Written by J.J. Abrams

Yeah, Super 8 is a homage all right. And a wonderful one, impeccably crafted on every level, right down to the carefully chosen period color schemes, the lighting, and Michael Giacchino’s nod to John Williams.
he two main character in this movie are wonderfully written and acted. Played by Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning, they are the heart and soul of the film. The best scene in the movie is a quiet scene. It involves two kids and super 8 film that helps them come to terms with a tragedy and begin to heal. It is one of many scenes where Abrams demonstrates that if there ever was an heir apparent to the bearded one, it is the creator of Lost.

African Cats
Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Kieth Scholey
Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson

I Bought a Zoo might be cute and Warhorse may be epic, but African Cats is by far the best movie about animals in years. It treats these magnificent cats with the dignity and respect they deserve. It is a beautiful film. And it is real and has a critical message. What little is left of their home must be saved from the evil scourge of Homo sapiens who have all but destroyed this planet and the homeland of these wonderful, noble creatures.

X-Men: First Class
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn

The underrated Kevin Bacon anchors a charismatic cast in might have been the most pleasant overachieving surprise of the year. Setting the film in the story fertile early 1960's was the perfect way to invigorate a movie series that was based on a comic book created in the very same era.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Evolution, Bull Mongoni style

A reading from the Sacred Scrolls of Tarmok

Every day I get one step closer. Every day I feel myself taking the forbidden primal journey into the past.

The soaring levels of androgens cascading though my system combine with the blend of carefully calculated nootropics. It makes for the perfect cocktail to open the receptors deep inside my cerebral cortex. I can feel it unlocking the secrets of the past and turning back the genome clock. A biological time machine.

I am morphing back into something from my past. Something primitive and pure. Something superior and noble. Something that lived before the destructive and petty race of evil Homo sapiens came to destroy and dominate.

I am getting stronger and smarter by the day. I can at long last see the history of the earth with clarity. The blood of the Bull Mongoni flows in my veins and soon I will have five times the strength of a Homo sapien. Soon my transformation will be complete and I will at long last unleash my savage fury.

God help anyone who dares to stand in my way.

Copyright 2011 James J Caterino
All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 28, 2011

Barbarian bastards and hiruitistic freaks

Before the Dawn by Nicholas Wade is a furious and fascinating page turner that I could not get enough of.  It is a non-fiction science book that attempts to solve the mysteries of human prehistory, especially the lost years between the exodus of modern humans out of Africa 50,000 years ago until the beginnings of recorded human history and urbanized civilization 5000 years ago. Since the discovery of the fully mapped out human genome in 2003, it is now possible to look back in time at human history, and prehistory.

The human genome is a recorded time capsule, literally. Biological geneticists are now able to decode the human genome and unlock such elusive mysteries as when anatomically modern humans lost their fur, began to wear clothing and developed language. It can now be determined with a high degree of accuracy the exact date our ancestors left Africa and even how many there were down to the exact number. We even can determine the nature of  prehistory human warfare. The secrets revealed by decoding the human genome do not end there either. We now know for certain whether Thomas Jefferson actually did have a forbidden slave family, what the pre-history Homo sapiens must have been like, and why humans behave the way they do in modern times.

Before the Dawn is a mesmerizing and addictive book. It is insightful and one of the best mainstream science books I have ever read. It is an absolute must for any curious minded person with a sense of wonder and even a casual interest in human history, anthropology, or natural science.

One of the most interesting concepts explored by the book is the date when the hominids that evolved into humans began to lose their fur. Like all of the dates, geographic places and numbers revealed in Before the Dawn, this date can be determined with a fair degree of accuracy by decoding the time capsule of data in the genome.
But there is one issue that niether this book, nor any other current theory addresses. Namely, the wide range of body hair volume that exists among humans today, even among males with similar androgen levels. Some of us still have "fur".

Unlike the hair on a human head or even the face, body hair behaves exactly like fur. It grows to a certain length and stops. Then the follicles shed hair and are replaced at regular intervals. It may be that people today who still have this body “fur”, carry an active form of the genes from our ancestors prior when human body hair was lost (very roughly around 1.2 million years ago). I am sure regional heritage is a factor. I am of Italian decent and have “fur” on nearly every inch of my body. I would say this trait is mostly found among Mediterranean men, but I also have a Russian friend almost as hairy except his fur is light in color.

Of course I have my own theory about this. Recently it has been proven that some Neanderthal DNA exists in all non-African Homo sapiens.There another archaic Hominid species unknown to modern science but written about in the Sacred Scrolls of Tarmok and referenced in many other ancient texts, the Bull Mongoni.Those of us like myself who still possess body fur, sinewy mesomorphic builds, and surging androgen levels have the blood of this other ancient hominid species coarsing through our veins, the blood of the Bull Mongoni.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cast of Characters

Character: Gunner Star
Books: Gunner Star, Rise of the Bull Mongoni

The enigmatic fearsome anti-hero who brought the Sacred Scrolls of Tarmok exploding into the mainstream and created the Bull Mongoni revolution can only be played by someone with animal magnetism and scorching charisma. When I first began writing Gunner Star in the early 2000's there was only one actor in my mind with the presence and delivery to pull it off. And several years and two Gunner Star books later it is still the same. Vin Diesel IS...Gunner Star.

Past movie role that best demonstrates why:
The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

Character: Tyrone Fulton
Book: Rise of the Bull Mongoni

Tyrone Fulton, the defeated cast out is about to give up on life until he is rescued by Gunner Star and reborn by way of the Word of Tarmok and the Bull Mongoni philosophy. This Gunner Star protege must be played by someone who can be convincing as both an obselete, burned out, jobless middle aged everyman, and the muscular athletic alter ego he is transformed into. Most fitting of all would be to cast this role with a forgotten action hero who himself has been cast out and is desperately in need of an acting rebirth.
Wesley Snipes IS Tyrone Fulton.

Past movie role that best demonstrates why:
Blade (1998)

Character: She a.k.a Angela/Corrina
Book: She

The young woman who mysteriously vanishes and returns from the past via soul transmigration needs to be portrayed by someone who can exude an almost supernatural, ethereal charm and captivating presence. Mia Kirshner was the image firmly planted in my mind when I created the character circa 2002/2003. Although given the age of the character, today I would go with Mila Kunis.

Past movies roles that best demonstrate why:

Mia Kirshner, Exotica (1995)
Mila Kunis, Black Swan (2010)

Character: Valerie
Book: She

The alluring, sensual femme fatale Valerie is the smoldering fire that brings She to life, both the story and the character herself. At the time I wrote She sexy British Italian giallo B movie star Margaret Lee was on my mind. Valerie is the ultimate femme fatale and needs to played someone with insane sexual charisma. So I base these choices on actresses I have seen do realistic, believable, erotic on screen sex scenes. The character today could be played today by Naomi Watts, Scarlett Johansson, or Elizabeth Shue.

Past movie roles the best demonstrate why:

Naomi Watts, anything and everything
Scarlett Johansson, The Black Dahlia (2005)
Elizabeth Shue, no role in particular. I just sense a sexual charisma there that has only been hinted at.

Character: Wes Jackson
Book: Action Figure

There is no getting around the fact that Wes Jackson was written from the first person viewpoint in the most visceral way possible. I wrote it as me. But since I am not an actor and would the movie to actually be good...Jason Statham IS Wes Jackon.

Past movie roles that best demonstrate why:
The Transporter (2002) and Crank (2006)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Good god it's great to be a Bull Mongoni

Thirteen basic mantras of the Bull Mongoni philosophy.

1) Protect those who cannot protect themselves.

2) Destroy all bullies.

3) There is no forgiveness! There is no invisible man in the sky to get you off the hook.

4)You are the sum of all your actions past and present. Your sins are yours and yours alone. Have the courage to own them.

5) My body, my business.

6) Technology improves but man does not. The Homo sapiens are the same greedy, selfish, destructive, murdering, species that migrated out of Africa and exploded like a virus across the Old World 50,000 years ago destroying everything in their path.

7) Kindness will be rewarded with fierce loyalty.

8) Let go of your fear. And use your enemy's against him.

9) You want to hunt for sport? Then try hunting a man who is equally armed. Then we will see what a tough guy you really are. What's the matter? Afraid of a fair fight?

10) When you sculpt and harden the flesh, you sharpen and focus the mind.

11) All disputes should be settled with a broadsword and a fight to the death.

12) You want to see me dead? Then you will have to come here and kill me yourself with your bare hands. Come on. I dare you. I double dare you.

13) Good god it's great to be a Bull Mongoni.

Experience the Bull Mongoni philosophy in action in the cult novel Gunner Star and the irreverent anti-establishment adventure Rise of the Bull Mongoni.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dignity, compassion, and doing the right thing

This is a letter I received from a sanctuary I support, Save the Chimps. 
The news is unfortunately sad. It is about the passing of a beloved and inspiring Chimpanzee named Ron.

Ron spent his most of his life suffering one cruelty after another at the hands of sadistic humans. What I read below makes my blood boil. I  am raging with anger thinking about the horrors he  endured at the hands of human torturers. After you read it, you will be too.
Even a simple soft tissue injury in the lower back is excruciating. Ron must have suffered a living hell! Subjecting an innocent, intelligent creature to that kind of wicked cruelty and endless torment is just plain, sadistic evil. It sickens me. I really do not think the public is aware of the abuse these creatures suffer at the hands of evil humans. Or that the United States is the only prominent country that still tortures our great ape brothers and sisters against their will.

Sanctuaries such as these are completely dependent on the donations from the brave and the compassionate who want to help fight back against abusive humans and evil corporations.
Save the Chimps was able to give Ron a dignified and happy life his final seven years. I support this sanctuary as well as The Center for Great Apes and strongly urge that you do the same.  It is part of the Bull Mongoni philosophy. It is doing the right thing. The letter is as follows:

"On October 10, 2011, our beloved Ron passed away peacefully on his island of heart failure. Ron was familiar to many as one of the stars of the Nature documentary “Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History,” which in part documented Ron’s journey from a former laboratory in New Mexico to a new island home in Florida. He was also the star of our hearts, a huge chimp with an even bigger smile and gentle demeanor.. His charming personality and warm spirit are even more remarkable when considering the harm he suffered for so many years of his life.
Ron’s file estimates his date of birth is September 1, 1976, but since his origins are not recorded, that birth date is merely a guess. We do not know who Ron’s parents are, or where he was born. The first record of Ron’s existence is from June 24, 1987, when he received his first physical at the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP). A single notation in his file said that Ron arrived from “West Point.” Although we do not know if he was a pet, a performer, or a lab chimp prior to his arrival at LEMSIP, West Point was home to Merck, Sharp, and Dohme, which used chimps in biomedical research in the 1970s and 1980s. Ron was a full-grown chimp when he arrived at LEMSIP, weighing 143 lbs; he must have been at least 14 years old, so it is likely that Ron was actually born in 1973 or earlier.

During his 9 years at LEMSIP, Ron was anesthetized with ketamine at least 105 times. On multiple occasions, he was kept anesthetized for six hours or more, as blood was repeatedly drawn from him. He lived alone at LEMSIP, in a 5’ x 5’ x 7’ cage suspended off the ground. A veterinarian at LEMSIP noted that Ron was a very large chimp, and wrote in his file, “needs a much larger cage.” Sadly, there were no larger cages at LEMSIP. In the late 1990s, LEMSIP closed, and Ron was sent to The Coulston Foundation (TCF), a lab in Alamogordo, NM.
In 1997, Ron was observed to have an abnormal echocardiogram, but it was dismissed as being caused by the anesthetic. He was transported to the primate facility on Holloman Air Force Base (HAFB) near Alamogordo, and assigned to a biomedical research study. He was anesthetized 16 times in a 5 week period. After the study ended, he was returned to TCF’s private facility in Alamogordo.

In 1998, Ron was again transported to HAFB and assigned to Study #981109, which came to be known as the Spinal Dynamics study. In this study, Ron had a healthy cervical disc removed from his neck and replaced with a prosthetic disc. The prosthetic remained in Ron’s spine for 6 months, and was then later surgically removed. According to Ron’s records, when the prosthesis was removed, he did not receive any pain medication until eight days after surgery. When he was finally prescribed pain medication, he was given 200 mg ibuprofen, the equivalent of one tablet, twice a day for three days. It is difficult to imagine the amount of pain he must have been in.

In 2002, Save the Chimps (STC), under the leadership of Dr. Carole Noon, took over TCF and rescued Ron. At the time he was living alone in Building 300, which was dubbed “The Dungeon” for its dreary conditions and scores of chimps who lived in isolation. In 2003, STC’s veterinarian, Dr. Jocelyn Bezner, observed clinical signs of heart disease in Ron. His first cardiac ultrasound did not reveal serious heart disease, but in 2004 Ron showed even more symptoms of heart disease, and another ultrasound was scheduled.

During the exam, tragedy struck: Ron stopped breathing and his pulse began to fade. Dr. Bezner began CPR and resuscitated Ron, but he crashed again. Again he was revived, and again he crashed. After the fourth time that Ron stopped breathing, the decision was made to let him pass away, surrounded by his loving caregivers. Then the miracle happened: Ron started breathing again on his own. He had decided that it was not his time. The ultrasound was completed, showing extremely severe heart disease. Remarkably, he was fully recovered within hours of his ordeal. A cardiologist recommended a treatment protocol to help Ron, but cautioned that due to the severity of Ron’s condition, that his prognosis was poor. Dr. Noon began to make plans to move Ron to Florida as soon as a newly constructed building was available for him.

Ron responded well to treatment and moved to Florida in May 2005 with his buddy Thoto. He was accompanied on the journey by Dr. Bezner, and his story was documented in the Nature program “Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History.” When Ron was released, he opted not to go onto the island, sticking to the familiar concrete of the patio.

Over time, however, Ron grew to love the wide open spaces of his island. He could be seen striding magnificently over the hills, or enjoying the view from a platform. He and Thoto began to have conflict, but Ron made a new chimpanzee friend in April, a former pet who had been rescued by STC in 2003. His health was closely monitored, and his medications adjusted as needed. But there is no doubt that his caregivers were all holding their breath, waiting for the worst to happen.

Ron, however, had different plans. He defied all predictions and expectations, and lived a happy life for seven more years, enjoying the peace of his island. He became an adoptive father to young Melody, who was born at STC as a result of a failed vasectomy and whose mother lacked the skills to raise her.  Together with April, he became her protector and guiding hand. He also made new friends and saw his chimpanzee family grow to include many other chimps, such as fellow LEMSIP veteran David, former pet chimps Connor and Kramer, and lady companions Pele and Gail. Ron was a miracle and an inspiration. He endured isolation, torment, and a life-threatening illness; yet somehow Ron found the courage and determination to not only survive, but to embrace life and enjoy every moment to the fullest."

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Descent into madness

An excerpt from Gunner Star by James J Caterino
Chapter 4 - Descent into madness

For well over a decade it was the perfect job for people without job skills.
It was the easiest way to make legal money for those who possessed no talent.
It actually was considered a profession. Even better, it was one anyone could
do. It required no education, training, just a warm body and a phone.

For over a decade, it was the perfect job for me.

Then it all ended.

Suddenly I had to compete again.

Once friendly waters became shark infested overnight. Everyone was looking
to stake their claim to a vanishing frontier. Everyone was looking to protect their
own stake in the game.

I thought of kingpin Ross Manning lecturing a group of new brokers.
“I’ll cut your balls off for a nickel.” He screamed to the group of desperate
newbies who hung on his every word.

Ross Manning would thrive in the new post bubble environment. Ross Manning
could thrive in any environment. You had to be mean and aggressive. You
had to be driven and desperate. You had to be a greedy bastard who was willing
to cut off anyone’s balls for a nickel.

I never stood a chance.

One fateful day of my former life stands out above the rest. The memory was
seared into my brain as a pathetic summary of all that was wrong in my pre-Gunner
existence. I started each day by journeying to work via the asphalt jungle of violence and mayhem. But today was different. It was worse. Unrelenting tension hung in the
air. You could almost smell the anger as traffic came to a bottle neck stop.
The scene unfolds before my eyes; an image recalled and played out in ultra
high def six track Dolby digital, the Cinemascope screen in my mind blazing to

I go to make a right hand lane change. Out of nowhere a black Lincoln Town
car cuts off my path. Even through the tinted window I can make out the silhouette
of a clenched jaw of fierce determination and piercing eyes—the eyes of
rage—the eyes of fierce competition.

The eyes of a man who would love to destroy me.

A white Lexus cuts me off from the other side. I look over and see the profile
of a hideous woman, veins pooping out of her wrinkly neck, a saggy jowl flapping
wildly as she screams obscenities at me.

On both sides drivers continue to cut in front of me. All the while they deliver
angry glances. Glaring looks that say "fuck you, I’m going first. Go ahead and try to get in front of me and I’ll hit your car. Then I’ll sue you to boot you pathetic piece of shit loser."

Horns are blaring. Everywhere around me, enraged drivers battle for their
piece of the asphalt jungle.

Even out here on the freeway, I was ill-equipped to compete.

An eternity later I exit the freeway and stop off at a Quick Mart. I am leaning
against the soothing cool glass in front of the sodas when I hear him enter with
a thud.

A Burly Redneck looking man storms through the door. And he is angry.
The Burly Red Neck marches over to the coffee counter where a meek looking
CPA type is mixing his coffee. The red neck swats the coffee out of his hand,
sending the contents sprawling across his neatly pressed shirt and tie.
“I don’t appreciate you tailgating me partner.” The threat of violence simmering
beneath each word the villain speaks.

The CPA looks up at the menacing figure glaring down at him and turns three
shades of white.

“Huh?” The CPA’s voice quivers. He is much too terrified to be upset or even
shocked by what the raging madman had done just done to him.

“Back there on South West Eighteenth. I don’t like anybody driving within
twenty feet of me.” The Burly Redneck hovers over him as if he were about to
reach down and snap the man’s neck at any second.

“I thought I was far enough away, but if I wasn’t I’m sorry.” The timid CPA
keeps his eyes down and shifts nervously as he speaks.

The Burly Redneck gives him one last stare of dominating evil. “You’re gonna
get yourself killed driving like that partner.”

Then the Burly Redneck turns. He casts a threatening glare in my direction. I
hadn’t realized, but in my frozen fear I must have been standing there staring at
the entire incident.

“You looking to get yourself killed too, faggot.”
I meekly nod no and scamper away like a frightened rabbit out the front door,
right on the coattails of the humiliated CPA.

I remember walking out into the parking lot trying to justify it to myself. It’s
not worth it. He might have a gun. The cops might come and I could get
arrested…blah, blah, fucking blah. Bottom line, for about the hundredth time
already this morning, I had just had my ass kicked.

All I needed was for someone to deliver someone to the fatal blow. Little did I
know at the time, it would be waiting for me at the office.

Read more in the riveting, avante guarde action thriller Gunner Star

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In the shadows

David Goodis has a reputation as one of the bleakest of Noir and it is quite evident in "The Wounded and the Slain", an expertly crafted psychological foray into the fractured psyche of an emotionally and sexually scarred man who may be beyond redemption. There is also a fascinating attempt to dig deep into the hidden lust and pent up desires of a repressed 1950's era wife who has to put up with her husband's deep descent into a drunken paranoia and despair.

With workman-like prose, Goodis does a fantastic job of creating a detailed atmosphere, both physically (the potrayal of a 1950's Jamaican resort and the seedy side of town on the outskirts is vividly portrayed) and psychologically (we get to inside the minds of these characters, especially Bevan and Cora). To many this will be a very slow book. There is suspense, although not plot or action driven. I found myself fascinated by this pessimistic, emotional journey into the dark side of noir.

Be warned of a few things:
This is a novel that takes bleakness to a new level. There is no such thing as a truly sympathetic character. This book is dated to be sure. But that is the point. To get a feel for the time and place (especially the harsh impenetrable lines between race and class) and to get a taste of the pessimistic noir literature that was popular at the time.

A great entry into the Hard Case series, with yet another cool retro cover by Glen Orbit

Sunday, October 2, 2011

10,000 years in the making

The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution

 by Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending

I have a long held interest in evolution and anthropology. Beyond an interest actually. More like an endless fascination. Some would even say obsession. I am a the the Tea Party/GOP's worst nightmare. I cannot be bullied into falling into the current line of thinking that the earth is 6000 years old. I know better.

Enough about fables and delusions and on to science and The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution.

As soon as I opened up this book and started to read, I could not stop. I devoured it. Then I read it again. It is utterly fascinating. The book is about exactly what the title says, how the last 10,000 years human evolution is rapidly accelerating due to the adaptions of civilization. We change phyically to adapt to changes from geography, climate, diet, but these are not slow mutations that occur over millions or even hundreds of thousands of years as they have been throughout most of the planet's evolutionary history. These are now rapid changes at the genetic level involving alterations at the chromosomal level called alleles. They can occur in as little as several generations, and the rate of change is increasing dramtically.

The authors go back beyond 10,000 years ago to indentify the time when this explosion of acceleration first began 30,000 years ago. They indentify the exact event. For me this was best part of the book because it something that I always believed and the authors make a strong case to back up their somewhat irrevereant theory. I will not give it away here. It would be akin to giving a away a major spoiler to a novel. But anyone with an interest in anthropology or evolution of human history will find it facinating.

My only problem I had with this book is the use of of the term "ape-like". It is a pet peeve of mine and scientists should know better. Humans ARE great apes so referring to a non-human behavior as "ape-like" is a contradiction.

In many ways The 10,000 Year Explosion reads like the anthropolgy equivilant to a Michio Kaku physics book. That makes perfect sense since one of the authors is a physicist. Overall, this book is a pop science masterwork with some terrific insights and revoltionary theories. Together with Guns, Germs, and Steel, it makes for the perfect new wave evolution double feature.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Word of Tarmok: My top ten films and why

The Word of Tarmok: My top ten films and why: Want to get to know someone? Do you have a need to explore below the surface, dig deepert, and find out what emotional conflicts are lurki...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Action Figure

24 meets Falling Down in the relentless pulp thriller

The words spun around my aching brain in an endless loop
as I marched through the dense heat of the urban brush.
"You're too nice a guy Jackson."
That may have been true before this morning.
But as of 9:17 AM this morning, the moment Fat Head's nightstick rocked my dome, I started to transform into something else--something primal, something strong, and in many ways, something long overdue.
A sleeping giant of buried rage had been awoken.
I thought about Tarmok and the rage of the Bull Mongoni.
The barbarian within me had taken over, this time for good.
I began too feel pity for anyone who dared stand in my way
as I began my dark journey of escape.

I am Wes Jackson.
I am ignorant in the Hollywood Barbell Club sense of the word.
Wes Jackson Lives.

It's all about who you know. It's all about networking. It's all about who is the best bold-faced liar. It's all about listening to your instinct when it screams run. Meet Wes Jackson. A burned out shell of a man leading a life of quiet desperation. Then one day, he has a fateful encounter with two security guard goons. The confrontation escalates and turns deadly, and now Wes Jackson is a man on the run. He is a hunted man-a man who has been reborn and re-invented. And a man who is determined to succeed in his dark journey of escape, no matter who or what stands in his way. Action Figure is a lurid, relentless, adrenaline filled, avant-garde, action-packed, roller coaster ride of adventure that never lets up from start to finish.

Action Figure now available in paperback and Kindle and Nook.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Video Noir

An excerpt from the science fiction mystery thriller Video Noir.

Caitlin could feel the change inside her skull the instant it happened.

It sort of felt the first time she had a new memory of Rick but this time it was much stronger and nowhere near as pleasant. This time it actually hurt. Caitlin felt a wave of physical pain engulf her.

It felt like someone had just stabbed her with a syringe full of flaming neurons and injected them directly into the base of her cerebral cortex.

They were new memories and Caitlin could feel them being created.

She could see the video cameras everywhere.

She could see all the food.

She could see Kathy and all the other guests.

But now she could something else too; and someone else.

It was the generic-suited creep with the gogglelike glasses—the freaky man in black from American Bistro. He was the catalyst who had started it all. He had set everything in motion that night when he had handed Caitlin that business card with the words “Video Noir” on it.

Now, whenever Caitlin thought about Zeke’s graduation party, the freak in black was there on the patio alongside Caitlin, Kathy, the Scraggs clan, and Boca Raton’s finest.

A new memory had been created. A new reality had been forged.

Someone who’d been filming at the party must have already uploaded some footage to YouTube, LiveVideo or wherever. The sinister men behind Video Noir must have already gotten a hold of it and processed it with the Light Wave technology. Then the freak must have watched and became part of it.

A new past and a new reality had been created.

Caitlin had a new memory. She had literally felt it come alive like a new network of neurons searing to life inside her brain. She could still remember the original past—the one where Zeke’s party had been free of lurching, sinister, creepy, men-in-black types. But the original memory—the real reality—was already slightly faded. Maybe the brain could only handle one time line and one reality at a time.

A new reality had been created. The past had been changed.

Caitlin realized that Troy Matheson was right.

It was possible to travel back in time.

It was also possible to alter reality.

Caitlin knew her dark adventure was only beginning.

Read more about Caitlin's adventure she battles the shadowy forces behind Video Noir.
Now available in Paperback, Hardcover, and  Kindle

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


A dramatic reading from the science fiction femme fatale thriller She by James J Caterino.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Best movie summer ever

Best movie summer ever...

Well, not really. That will probably always be 1982 (E.T., Blade Runner, Poltergeist, Star Trek II, etc.). Although the best overall year in my books would be 1968 (2001, Planet of the Apes, Barbarella, Night of the Living Dead) with 1987 (Empire of the Sun, No Way Out, Wall Street, Robocop, The Untouchables) as a runner up.

The summer of 2011 cannot compare to any of those years.
But with one instant classic (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), two immensely entertaining, well crafted comic book blockbusters (Thor, Captain America), a fresh and shockingly good addition to a tired series ( X-Men : First Class), a super teaming of two storytelling geniuses from different generations ( Super 8), and a sleeper smash hit surefire Oscar contender (The Help) - this past summer was easily the best movie going season in many, many years. Perhaps even back as far as that fabled summer of 1982.

My favorite seven things from the summer films of 2011.

1) Chris Hemsworth in Thor

Fantastic casting (in all of the roles) and what a find Chris Hemsworth is. Finally, a young actor with the both the charisma and the physical presence of Vin Diesel and The Rock.

2) The period setting of X-Men: First Class

Setting the film in the story fertile early 1960's was the perfect way to invigorate a movie series that was based on a comic book created in the very same era.

3) Elle Fanning in Super 8

There is a quiet scene in Super 8 when Elle Fanning’s and Joel Cortney’s characters are watching some home movies. Elle Fanning’s work in that scene, and her entire performance in this film, is astonishing.

4) The art direction of Captain America

The director of the underrated The Rocketeer seemed like the perfect choice to visualize Captain America into a movie. Boy was he ever. Every frame of the movie is a beautifully designed piece of retro pulp art.

5) Viola Davis in The Help

Thanks to the smashing success of The Help brought on by good old fashioned word of mouth, this unsung actress is finally getting some long overdue recognition.

6) Climb Caesar Climb

When a young Caesar first sees the Redwood Forest and soars up into the trees, it is a wonderful, soaring, euphoric, moving moment of pure movie magic. My favorite scene in my favorite film of 2011 so far.

7) The music of Patrick Doyle.

His scores for Thor and Rise of the Planet of the Apes were the best one two punch by a composer in the same summer in a long time.

Gunner Star Lives: a sneak preview

A special ten page sneak preview of the next Gunner Star book, Gunner Star Lives. A follow-up to the irreverent action adventures Gunner Star, Action Figure, and Rise of the Bull Mongoni.



A car pulls into a driveway.
The car has a custom NASA plate and a bumper sticker that reads SCIENCE WILL SAVE THE PLANET.

A MAN IN A WHITE SHIRT AND TIE MAN steps out of the car.
Thick glasses, flat top buzz cut, like he just finished giving a lecture on rocket propulsion.
He pulls his briefcase out of the car, turns around to take a step...

His path is blocked by a mob of angry neighbors.
There are dozens of them, men and woman of various ages.
Some are holding shovels.
A few are clenching baseball bats.
One is gripping a glock handgun.
They are armed.
They are angry.

They begin to circle in on the Nasa Man.
A seething, hideous TROLL of a woman steps forward.
The TROLL LADY is the leader of the hate-filled mob.

Here in Arcadia we worship God and shun all those who would dare work in the name of the false Pagan beliefs.

The Nasa Man seems familiar with this routine of harassment.

And I will tell you again. I am a scientist. It has nothing to do with religion or gods and stay out of my business and away from my family. You have no right to tell me what to believe, in America we have the right to religious freedom and...

A lumbering REDNECK GOON lunges forward and slams Nasa Man up onto the hood of his car.

You want freedom? I’ll give you the freedom to die and burn in hell you devil worshipping secular fascist commie.

The WIFE of Nasa Man opens the front door and is CRYING hysterically.
She screams.

Leave him alone! What’s wrong with you people?

Nasa Man is still in the clutches of the filthy paws of Redneck Goon.

His wife tries to run to him, crying for them to let him go.
She is immediately met by a SNEERING FAT WOMAN and a TALL MAN in a hunting jacket and hat.

Sneering Fat Woman and Tall move in on Nasa Man’s Wife.
They Grab her.
They SLAM her to the ground.
They begin to BEAT HER...and beat her...
The sounds of fists and clubs against flesh and bone ECHO across the front yard.

Two SMALL CHILDREN are watching the sickening mayhem from a window inside the house.

You were warned for the last time non-believers. It is has been decided that we must now enforce the word of God.

A SCOWLING CHUBBY FACED WOMAN takes a roundhouse swing of a baseball bat. It SMASHES across the skull of Nasa Man sending a THUD into the air.
An screaming MAN IN A GLENN BECK T-SHIRT pulls out a knife and plunges it into the chest of Nasa Man.

Blood slowly SPRAYS up into the air inciting the Mob to the next level of murderous blood lust.
Troll Lady looks on with gleeful delight.

God’s will must be done. Our children must be protected from the evil ideas of non-believers. Secular fascism science is the work of the devil. The only laws are the laws of the bible and they shall be enforced.

The sadistic beating goes on and on...
Until Nasa Man and his wife are left lying on the street as lifeless bloody corpses.

Get in there and get those children. Deliver them to the CRC for orientation. They can still be saved if they can be properly re-educated in the word of God.





A massive cathedral of iron and rust.
Streaming light from a dusty sky windows cuts down into the dark chamber illuminating a work area far below.

A set of monitors glows amid the ghostly industrial cavern.
Computers...a work table...
An ominous looking METAL TORTURE CHAIR with chains and shackles -
A mix of high tech, low tech and barbaric
There is a an IMPOSING FIGURE moving about the work area.
At first, we see him only from behind -
A living statue of hard sculpted flesh emerging from the shadows.
Clad in black fatigue pants and a white Action Figure shirt that appears painted on his armor of sinewy flesh...

He is intensely focused working a touch screen in one hand and a computer mouse on the other.
He looks up at one of the monitors.

PRESIDENT MICHELE LECHER steps out from behind a massive Tea Party emblem.
She stares slightly off to the right of the camera as she addresses the television and internet audience.
There is no media in room. Only fellow Tea Party enablers and several heavily armed sinister goons. They are all uniformed with a insignia “CPF” surrounded by the words “Christian Peace Force”
A fearsome HENCHMAN stands by President Lecher’s side. He looks like a clone of Steve “Stone COLD” Austin of WWF fame.
Gunner takes notice of this Henchman and shakes his head. This is a man he knows.

My fellow Americans. My fellow children of God.
Her blank robotic stare is made all the more creepy by the fact she does not seem to know where the camera is. The attractive, yet sinister leader continues to stare off to the right side of the screen as she speaks.

When the American people spoke and elected me as the voice of our great nation, they also elected the voice of God. Because as our founding fathers said, this was intended to be a nation of God. A land for true Christian believers. A place where we could be free to preach and live the word of God as told to us by him in the bible.
Gunner Star watches a SECOND MONITOR playing a newscast.


A bible study group of Christian citizens bravely took matters into their own hands and challenged a gang of fascist secular extremists who posed a grave danger and continually harmed the children of the peaceful community by promoting radical ideas about evolution and climate change.

A digitally altered photo of NASA Man that makes him look like a deranged serial killer.
Gunner Star watches with intensity. He clenches his fist. An vascular river of flesh swells across his forearm.


And when we are threatened right here on our own soil by the evil cancer of those who do not believe and try to spread the false lies of Pagan gods and elite thinking, it puts all Americans in danger. So we need to take action as Americans.

Gunner Star marches over to another work bench. He straps on a black combat vest form fitted to his swollen sculpted torso like a second skin.


And we just want to grab a quick word with the hero of the day here in Arcadia. A true believer with the courage to stand up for the word of God.

Poisonous ideas that contradict the bible will not be tolerated in a fine Christian community. We have to fight to protect our children so we can raise them with the word of God. And here in Arcadia we support President Lecher and her effort to root out all the secular fascists who are anti-America and go against our founding fathers.

Gunner grabs a Cutlass broadsword from the work bench.
His thick back muscles flair out and ripple as he hoists the sword and CUTS it through the air with frightening intensity.


And so we must use the special Christian Peace Force that I created, to go into our neighborhoods and separated the pro-Americans, from the anti-Americans. This is the only way we can protect our children.

Gunner Star snatches a wooden Fight Stick from the work bench.
An instant later the tip of the stick strikes the power button to off, silencing the hate-filled call to arms of President Lecher and the Troll Lady.

Gunner swings the Cutlass broadsword over one shoulder, the fight stick over the other, then marches out into the darkness.


Appears to be a typical suburban school campus...except for the armed Christian Peace Force guards at the gated entrance.

An Audie pulls into the parking lot and a MAN steps out.

He is dressed in a conservative dark suit. He walks over to the passenger side. Inside is a woman in a dress.
She is distraught.

David, don’t do it. They’ll kill you too. Let me call the police. We have every right...they are...those poor kids...

She is too upset to finish the sentence.

We talked about this. These lunatics have the law on their side now. But fuck the law. I want justice. And I am going in there and I am going t walk back out with our niece and nephew. We have a funeral to go to and we are going as a family.

David is not a physically imposing man, but his eyes burn with the fierce intensity of a man who has been pushed too far.

He turns and marches across the parking lot...
He does not hesitate.
Straight past the guard station...
Every step he takes, his adrenaline cranks up one notch higher.
Two UPTIGHT GOONS dressed in white polo shirts with a CHRISTIAN MILITIA emblem step out to block his path.
One is tall but SLOPPY looking.
Other one looks like the real deal, LEAN and mean.
Both are firmly gripping their sidearms.

This is private property. State your business or you will be fired upon.
David does not flinch for a second.

I am here to pick up my niece and nephew.

By whose authority.

Lean Goon step in front of David’s path to cut him off.
Sloppy Goon draws his sidearm and takes aim.

I am going to walk right past you and go in there and get my niece and nephew and if you plan on stopping me you will have to kill me.

That can be arranged. No one in this town will question another dead secular fascist. Hell, we’ll be heroes around here.

Lean Goon steps aside to let David walk by and looks over to Sloppy Goon.

As soon as he crosses the perimeter, kill him.

There is a BLUR as searing WHOOOSH rips across the air.
The CRACK of a bone being snapped into a hundred pieces.
Then a SCREAM from Sloppy Goon as a Fight Stick turned into a rocket javelin STRIKES straight into his wrist.

The sidearm falls to the ground as Sloppy Goon keels over grabbing his shattered wrist as he cries like a baby.

Then you’ll have to kill me too.


Gunner Star EXPLODES into the scene -
Lean Goon reaches for his sidearm -
Gunner LAUNCHES himself into a sprint -
The sidearm is pulled out -

Gunner gets closer...he reaches over his shoulder -
He draws his Cutlass broadsword -
Just as Lean Goon is about to fire his weapon -
Gunner RELEASES the Cutlass.
It ROCKETS out of his hand and instantly turns Lean Goon’s shoulder into a river of gushing blood.
The sidearm falls to the pavement.

Read more about the anti-hero antics of Gunner Star and the Bull Mongoni philosophy in Gunner Star, Action  Figure, and Rise of the Bull Mongoni.