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Majestic: Issue #10 Monday, July 22, 2002
In this Issue:
Letter from the Editor
by Chrispian H. Burks
Article: When Words Don't Work
by Richard Dani
The Write Off
by Richard Dani
Article: The Power of Porn
by Richard Dani
Recommended Reading Guaranteed to Make You Lose Sleep
Bartleby
Short Story: The Healing Properties of Soup
Bartleby
Short Story: Commonplace
Jessica
Article: Writing to Publish
Jessica
Short Story: So You Say You Want A Revolution - Part 3 (end)
Beckett Grey
Review: Minority Report
Beckett Grey
Review: Reign of Fire
Chrispian H. Burks
Review: Eight Legged Freaks
Chrispian H. Burks

Letter from the Editor
Letter From the Editor
By Chrispian H. Burks

Greetings Program. I've been busy behind the scenes quite a bit here lately. I've made quite a few improvements to the back end code that powers Lit.Org as well as plenty of tweaks. I'm getting ready to start coding for many of the new features and wanted to go through and clean up a bit. The server move I've been threatening you with is nearly upon us. I will be making the call on Friday to make the switch. You shouldn't notice any downtime. Next week, if you bump into a form that says "Sorry, this is the older server" .. Just check back in a couple of hours. Once I'm doing moving things, I'll just have to flip a switch and it'll be done! Pretty painless, really.

There are plenty of new features on the horizon, things like Classics @ Lit.Org, Author Promote, a Lit.Org Blog, and more. We are working hard to get these items ready as well as improve the site. Soon, password recovery and editing your posts will be available along with many other planned upgrades. For those interested in all the things we have planned, you can check out this out.

Chrispian H. Burks
Editor - Lit.Org


When Words Don't Work
When Words Don't Work
By Richard Dani
Regardless of whether you write for fun, for education or for a profession eventually writer's block will pay you a visit and it's liable to leave you frustrated, angst ridden and staring at a blank page. While the causes of this ailment are many, the cures are fairly simple. Here are a few well-traveled techniques that should help you defeat the more serious forms of writer's block:

Take a break You may be stumbling because you're tired or frustrated. So relax, go for a walk or read a book. Sometimes a little hiatus may be all it takes to unclog your creative waterworks.

Brainstorm Take out a sheet of paper along with the writing utensil of your choice and jot down whatever pops into your head. This is a great way to let the subconscious mind do the work and you just might uncover a creative idea or two.

Research Look up a topic that interests you and read about it. Not only is this relaxing but you may discover statistics and information that could be useful in a story.

Write but don't edit One of the most common causes of writer's block is our tendency to be hyper-critical. We want the piece to be great and we want it to be done quickly. So instead of proofreading as you go, write all of the piece first and edit later. Sometimes when you hit a wall there's no alternative but to run right through it.

Role play Stand up, walk around and pretend to be one of your characters. This personal relationship will help your creations behave in a more life-like manner and as a result, you should overcome your creative barrier.

Media as inspiration Watch the news and build a story around one of the events they're reporting. In this way, your story will be topical and tinged with realism. You could even add the tagline, "Inspired by real events."

Multiple Projects Always have several stories going at once. This way when one screeches to a halt you can switch gears and work on something different. Productivity is what we all strive for.

These are just a handful of the many methods one can use to overcome writer's block and while they are good to know, I hope they are tools that you rarely have to implement.

Richard Dani
Editor - Lit.Org


The Write Off
The Write Off
By Richard Dani
Last month's poetry Write Off was a total success. While all of the submissions were quite formidable, it was Jessicanm's that came out on top with an average score of 7.8. She was trailed closely by Rogan with a 7.5, Bartleby with a 7.3, Furius with a 7 and Vamp Eyes with a score of 6. I'd like to thank the competitors for their participation as well as the members who took the time to vote.

This month's Write Off, which will be held on July 28th, will stick with the Poetry format and it will feature Nicicole, MKMinion, Why Me and Enforced Bliss. As before the participants will play by the following two rules:

  1. On Wednesday, July 24th, yours truly will send each participant a topic, such as "Joy" or "Angst," and the entrants will have until Sunday, July 28th, to submit a poem that describes, conveys or uses the theme in some functional manner.
  2. Each poem must contain at least 50 words, but no more than 200.
As always, it is our Lit.Org's Members who take the time to read, review and rate that decides the winner. When doing so please consider the author's word choice, imagery, use of theme, grammar and word count.

Let's get it on!

Richard Dani
Editor - Lit.Org


The Power of Porn
The Power of Porn
By Richard Dani
If you like to look at porn, you're not alone. In fact, sexual images and stories appeal to about one third of the male population and according Forbes the adult entertainment industry rakes in a whopping 56 billion-dollars annually in the global market. The credibility of the internet companies has grown to the point that a few are even listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

The question is, do we as a society have anything to fear?

The Conservatives and Radical Feminist groups would respond with a resounding "yes." Even the most liberal of us has to be concerned with the number of sexual references our children have access to. Internet porn is rampant, many music videos amount to choreographed orgies, and advertisements with provocative images are becoming marketing industry staples.

Should we be concerned?

It is startling that ninety percent of the nearly 16 million Americans with eating disorders are female and most of them develop these ailments before the age of 20. One of the primary causes of eating disorders is "sociological factors." Women are inundated with images from magazines, movies and television, which reinforce the idea that thin is "good" while "fat' is not. As pornographic images become increasingly accessible, teenage women are forced to compare their bodies, as well as their values, with those of the models. Since most woman feel that they don't stack up, eating disorders are often the result. Maybe we should be concerned especially considering that ten percent of all eating disorders end in death.

In regards to men, pornography use is damaging as well. Donnerstein, Linz and Penrod, leading US researchers on the topic, have indicated that pornography "plays a part in changing the way men think about women." Others have gone farther by saying that porn can actually work as a "trigger" for men with sexually aggressive tendencies. This means that man with leanings toward rape may act after they are exposed to adult entertainment. Moreover, it doesn't take a scientist to figure out that the repeated portrayal of women in submissive roles will have a negative effect on the way men view their female counterparts.

So what is the answer? Should pornography be eliminated? More studies need to be completed but the wholesale usage of females and sexual situations should certainly be curbed, if for no other reason, then to limit the access of these materials by our youths. The upside to porn is miniscule, and debatable, while the damage it could cause is extreme.

Maybe it's time we err on the side of caution and place more stringent restrictions on the use of sexually explicit materials. What would be the harm? Fewer people buying hamburgers, soda pop and beer.

Heck, that's a benefit in and of itself.

Richard Dani
Editor - Lit.Org


Recommended Reading Guaranteed to Make You Lose Sleep
Recommended Reading Guaranteed to Make You Lose Sleep
By Bartleby

A Cavern of Black Ice by J.V. Jones: Jones is in my opinion the greatest kept secret in the glutted fantasy market. Having read her freshman effort "Book of Words" trilogy, all I could offer in way of criticism was "not bad for a first timer." Her second work, the stand alone novel "The Barbed Coil" was a definite step toward greatness. I guess the third time is really a charm, because "Cavern" is blessed with a wealth of interesting characters, tight plotting, and an intriguing system of magic. Following the story of Raif Severence, a clansman living in the wastes of a frozen north as he deals with the mysterious slaughter of his father and a score of hunters from their clanhold and how his fate intertwines with an frightened foundling Asharia Marsh with a secret of her own is a thrill ride of mystery, adventure and even a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. Pick this one up, and if you aren't through with it in less than a week I'll eat my hat.

Dreams Underfoot by Charles Delint: A collection of short stories focusing on the fictional town of Newford and it's populace of street musicians, buskers, artists and the homeless as they deal with the strange world of magic often seen out of the corner of the eye. De Lint is at his best when dealing with these eccentric and wonderfully portrayed characters, Meet Christy Riddle and his brother Geordie, a busker making his living with his wits and fiddle who loses his lady love in the deeply touching "Time Slip". Meet Jilly Coppercorn, an impish artist who wants so desperately to believe in magic that she in some ways becomes DeLint's most realized character, because we all can relate to the desire that there is something magical and amazing underneath the filth, poverty, and crime of the "real" world. Take a trip between these pages and Newford will become one of your favorite places to visit.

Along Came a Spider by James Patterson: If you've seen the Morgan Freeman movie based on this novel, forget you ever wasted that seven dollars and snatch up a copy from your local bookstore. Patterson is at his best in this novel pitting Homicide Detective Alex Cross versus his arch nemesis Gary Soneji, who's kidnapping of two children with high profile pedigrees, sends Cross on a manhunt filled with switchbacks, treachery and psychological manipulations. Out of the multitude of Alex Cross novels Spider is the best of the lot. Forget the movies, put down your curds and whey and prepare yourself for bloodshot eyes in the office after burning through this thrill ride of a suspense novel.


The Healing Properties of Soup
The Healing Properties of Soup
By Bartleby

The chill of the December air stung and numbed his face as it hurried by. His skin was chilled so deeply he could no longer feel his nose. A strange feeling this was, being nose less. Licking his wind chapped lips and concentrating through the haze that enveloped his mind, he was aware of the fact that his missing nose was in fact leaking, wetting his lips with the salted wash from his watering nasal passages. He suddenly missed Vanessa. She would have wiped his upper lip with a wad of tissue excavated from the depths of her handbag, all the while singing the virtues of her homemade chicken noodle soup, complete with English peas and baby carrots.

He never bothered to tell her that he loathed English Peas.

He supposed that was why he left. His wedding ring on the night stand, he had disappeared into a balmy July night with nothing more than a bag of clothes hastily gathered why she slept peacefully in their marriage bed. She was too dull, too frumpy in her faded blue, ankle length night dress, too "Little House on the Prairie", too stuck in "That's the Way it's always been."

Maria had been everything Vanessa was not. She was sexy, spontaneous, and most of all voracious in her appetites. He and Maria had lived life with teeth barred, and lust in their eyes, with no thought of the future or the consequences of their presence. The drink was strong, the drugs illegal, the parade of women that shared their bed endless in both their length and sheer depravity of desire. The alcohol gave him an ulcer, the cocaine left him in rehab, and the women blessed him with a social disease that still burned his loins. When the ride stopped rocketing down the road of debauchery, Maria simply moved on to someone else who shared her appetite for adventure.

Alone, and chilled by the winter air whipping his clothes around him like a skydiver, he took in the view below. With the fifth of bourbon in his stomach setting fire to his ulcer, he found that he could really go for that bowl of chicken noodle soup, even with it's abundance of peas.

The street rushed to meet him, the chill in his bones suddenly stolen by the searing flash of impact as he struck the sidewalk of 31st Street like a child doing a belly buster into the calm surface of a lake. He came to rest, face down, an arrangement of unnatural angles in a growing pool of crimson. Daniel Murddoch left this life shivering, numb from drink and craving homemade soup.


Commonplace
Commonplace
by Jessica

She's was losing her mind. Going down hill fast and any other cheesy cliché she could think of for doing something so out of character. She was stuck now, all because she'd decided to stop off for a drink before heading home.

Sitting alone at a bar on a Thursday night had seemed harmless. Then a tall, green eyed, black haired man took the stool beside her and she knew something would happen. Her heart started to race, her palms grew moist and her breath lodged somewhere in the back of her throat.

Here she was a thirty something mother of two, and devoted housewife of a man that poured more heart into his work than his family. She loved him deeply, and had always prided herself on a successful marriage. They were the ideal family that took vacations once a year, sent the kids to private schools, had three cars in the driveway and a pool in the back yard. So why was she left with a hollow feeling inside her heart? Being a housewife had its perks but it also had its downfalls. Worthless, mundane and old were emotions she had to combat on a daily bases lately. Nothing seemed to add up anymore. Maybe that's why she stopped off at the bar. She wanted a drink, true and it was something she rarely allowed herself. Was that the real reason she drove twenty minutes out of her way?

Now this man was sitting close beside her, catching her eye out of the corner of his own, smiling at her and making easy conversation. His voice was warm, and soothing when he told her he was here on business and had to head back tomorrow. She hadn't realized she'd turned to face him until his knee brushed against her own, sending white-hot heat over her body.

"You're married." He asked her, his eyes taking in the gleam of gold on her finger.

"Yes." She didn't glance down at the ring in question. Instead, she sipped the strong drink in front of her nonchalantly. Let him think what he would.

"Happily?" He leaned in a bit when he said it, invading her space and forcing her answer.

"Sometimes."

"Bored?" He was refereeing to her marriage, not themselves.

"Yes." What was with these one-sentence questions and answers and why was it so captivating that she finish the game he started. Or had she?

Then he kissed her, a mind blowing kiss that weakened her reserve and long standing morals. The kiss its self was short but powerful before he pulled away from her, tossed of few singles on the bar for their drinks and took her hand in his. She let him lead her out of the bar and into the cold winter night, where he huddled her close against his side, shielding her from the wind.

"Come back to the hotel with me?" It was a question, not a statement she had known was coming. It was tempting; it was what she wanted, excitement, and spice. Something she could have and do to make herself feel alive again. Sex had never been high on her priority list and it had been weeks since her husband had touched her. This man was offering her time off from the static drum of her existence with no strings attached.

What would that do to her marriage did she care? Would she tell her husband that she had taken her marriage vows and thrown them to the wind? Or would she keep this to herself the rest of her life, constantly replaying memories of a lusty night while feeding her husband and kids dinner and settling back into her 'routine'. Could she live with herself for betraying her marriage? Could she live with herself if she didn't? What did being faithful really boil down to in the end? Her heart wouldn't be involved, just her body right?

She turned to him, this handsome stranger, and took a deep breath.


Writing to Publish
Writing to Publish
by Jessica

I'm going to deviate from my normal shtick of trying to rope everyone into entering a contest or submitting to a paying market for money. Instead, I'm going to offer some tips on how to write smarter, with being published in mind.

1. AVOID using a PASSIVE VOICE.
A passive voice distances the reader from the action and comes off as murky and uninteresting. Example in Passive: The letter was signed by his mother. Active: His mother signed the letter. The subject of the passive sentence is 'letter' an inanimate object. 'Mother' is the subject in the active sentence, a living breathing person. Common sense question: which would you rather read about, a person or a letter.

How do you find out if the passive voice is a problem in your own writing? Simple, use the 'find' command in your 'edit' menu and search for passive words like: was and were. Examine your usage of the word in each sentence. Placing the subject of a sentence at the beginning is an easy way to correct a passive sentence or voice.

2. USE CONTRACTIONS
I think everyone would agree that good, effective fiction should reflect reality. In real life, people speak and think with contractions. Contractions are best used in dialogue. If you still struggle with this concept or don't agree think about this: how often do you hear someone say 'cannot' rather than 'can't' or 'should not' rather than 'shouldn't'?

3. SHOW, DON'T TELL
One of the basic laws of fiction writing is SHOW, DON'T TELL. If you're telling, then you're merely reporting events to a reader. When you're showing, you're getting the reader involved in an extent that he/she almost experiences the novel. An Example of TELLING: Nikki told Jake that he was insensitive. An Example of SHOWING: "You're nothing but an insensitive, selfish brat!" Nikki shouted.

It helps to imagine a movie where two on-screen actors talk about OTHER characters and events, rather than allow the audience to actually SEE the story progression for themselves. This is the way your story comes across when you TELL, rather than SHOW.

4. REMOVE CLUTTER
A major draw back to any genre is a work cluttered with useless words. If a word contributes nothing to a sentence's meaning then eliminate it. The most common word is 'that'. Reread your sentence without the word and if the meaning is clearer without the word, drop it.

5. USE THE RIGHT FONT
You may think this is trivial and unimportant but many editors won't even read a manuscript printed in anything smaller than twelve-font size. Use New Courier and always print with a pitch size of no less that twelve. Your choice of print font and size can be critical to the success of your submissions. Now I'll deviate back to the norm, start kicking up some dust, and desperately try to get some of you at lit.org excited about joining contests and trying out some paying markets. Put some of these tips in to practice and then start submitting, you have nothing to lose.


So You Say You Want A Revolution - Part 3 (end)
So You Say You Want A Revolution - Part 3 (end)
By Beckett Grey

I sent Jaimie home- though I knew he wouldn't actually go home, not with so many hours of news left in the day- and sat alone in my office, pondering the significance of the kid's story.

There was no question that he was telling the truth- from day one, Jaimie had been conditioned to repeat events exactly as he saw them happen. It was only by my instruction that he added any creative detail at all. If I had asked, he could've rattled off a completely factual, opinon-less, bone-dry recitation of the same event- and would've, happily.

I like opinions. Especially when they're mine.

What was Annn up to? A thousand thousand possibilites in a single event. Images of bloody revolutions, android dictatorships, machine-life biosystems flashed into my head. Would Annn be willing to foster that, for the sake of her precious machine brethren? Maybe.

I knew that I would never fully understand Annn. She was, for all of her creative thinking and empathic knowledge, still a machine, and able to function with a machine logic so unfamiliar to me, that I would be left completely in the dark until the unfolding course of events showed me the motivation behind what she was doing. On the other hand, as a human, I was completely free to do anything I wished, however random or unpredicatble. Not being motivated by logic sounds like a fault, but believe me, it isn't.

I thumbed the comm.

My personal secretary came on. "Yes, sir?"

I squinted. "Are you Lara or Flynn?"

"Flynn, sir."

"Right. Sorry." You employ twins, you pay the consequences. "Anyway, Flynn, hold all my calls, messages, newsfeeds, D-connects, arrest warrants, assassins, and- Krin help us all- personal visitors, for the next hour or so. I will be stepping out for a bit.

"But sir...where are you going?"

"For a walk," I said.

I stepped out of my office, rode the track to Lift Tube #4, took #4 down to Pre-Terra Level 1, got off and (le gasp!) walked down a dingy corridor until I reached the decrepit remains of the building's last Pneumo. I vaulted the Warning sign, fell through the tube, and bounced off the moth-eaten remains of the gravity cushion. I stood up, brushed myself off, and looked around.

The corridor had been built as an extension for the Pneumo itself. Thus, when the Pneumo was defunct, so was the corridor. With all and sundry- or almost all and sundry- using the shiny new Channels and Lift Tubes and Skyways, the Company had neglected to bother about doing anything with the hallway. This suited me fine: It meant I still had a way out of the building that would allow me to avoid the myriad of sensors, infobeams, sub-conscious urge programming, redirection systems, and assorted other horrible shit that plagued the average Channel user. It was nice, while it lasted.

At the end of the hallway, someone had set up a Falseface projector across the entrance, giving passers-by the illusion of an unbroken wall. From my side it looked like a bit of fuzzy projection over a hallway. From their side- a smooth polystone wall panel. Given this, I would have to be careful: people get suspicious when they see strangers exiting where no exit there be.

Breathe in, breathe out, step quickly, adjust coat to help reinforce idea that it was a trick of the light, act completely normal in case anyone is trying to figure out if it was just their imagination...you can get away with anything if you act convincingly enough.

No one yelled, and I stepped through the doors (door sensors go off: "Um, sir, Professor Jones has left the building without...uh...leaving the building again." "Damn it! Must be a mechanical failure. Send a repairman."), and down the steps, into the street.

Hello street. I've missed you.

The mixed gibble-gabble of a million languages flowed over me, Transaltic beamed Radio Free Coraleus, a thousand and one religious broadcasts, twenty different Menarkin Screaming music programs, ten different types of Wave Poisoning (set filter on high), seventeen billion types of aerial pornography, profanity, advertising, music, movement, activity, speed, sound, fury, life...

I set filters on high and switched over to Ersatz Programming Red-Wave-Free #3361 to listen for news. Or rather, to listen for news of any importance. There is always something happening in the city.

I hopped an open terminal and dialed for the Southwest Quadrant. There was a hydraulic whoosh as the tube engines kicked in, and the doors opened on the Spiral Bar and Neural Chamber- one of my favorite dives, in the days of my misspent youth. Alas, it had declined- or declined further- since those bygone years. I could all but feel the vermin, both human, animal, insect, and otherwise, squirming around behind the seedy, decaying facade of the building- sentient diseases breeding smarter sentient diseases in the junk-muck of a night that never ended, inside.

I pretended to ignore the eyes that followed me as I stepped out of the terminal, weighing the money in my pocket, calculating the worth of my Card on the black market, judging the value of my jewelry, my neural adapts, my clothes, my skin, my meat...my bones. EVERYTHING is worth something, if you're willing to dig deep enough.

I ignored them, and instead made my way toward Gould Street, whistling- or trying to whistle- in time with the low buzz of the aerial. There are people everywhere in Midport, even on Gould Street, though one couldn't tell if one were blind. These people, they shuffle along, covered in neural dampeners and artificial narcotics, alone in their own bodies for fear of actually experiencing the world. Already long gone...

I watched them closely, all the same. As a friend of mine used to say: Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Last time I saw him, he was halfway through his third round of self-hypnosis. I don't imagine he came to a good end.

Gould street. Empty and dead. Had the fish shop across the street been open when Jaimie saw it? I made a note to ask him. There was a small, dirty alcove between two buildings, almost filled by sealed yellow barrels. What was I looking for anyway? The place was empty. No body. No blood. No remnants. No nothing. I sat down on a barrel and sighed.

Something went -click-

I looked to my right. There, atop a nearby barrel, a three-inch-tall series of letters hovered in the air, glowing. They read:

Take Me.

I looked closer. A thin black disk lay on the barrel. I could'nt help myself: I picked it up. Another click, and the letters disappeared. They were immediately replaced by a large blue screen. Written on the screen:

My Love,

I know you will find this eventually. I know that you will read it. I know this, because it is my fault that you are here. I must confess, my love: You have been manipulated. That show- the man, the machine, everything- was set up to bring you here.

Dammit.

I know you are angry, but bear with me- there is a reason. I know you've been wondering about me, and I know you've been keeping too close a watch on the streams of information flowing back and forth across the city. I wanted to tell you to be careful, to keep your eyes on yourself in the coming months...but I couldn't do it myself. You and I know: It pays to be paranoid. If I can lead you here so easily- and I have, haven't I?- the Company can make the appropriate connections with no trouble at all. Wouldn't you say?

So I beg you again: Don't do anything to arouse suspicion. When I am ready, or when it can be put off no longer, I will contact you. If that happens, then the Revolution will be in full swing, and your life will be in danger. I am sorry to do this to you, but I hope you can understand. I love you, and I hope to see you again.

Yours,

Annn

So the revolution was happening after all...I felt alternately sick and exhilarated. There would be death. Death, death, death...probably mine and Annn's, and anyone else unlucky enough to have ever known us...but still...but still...

I dropped the disk in an incinerator on my way back. Then I checked, just to make sure. One can never be too paranoid, you know...

Despite my best intentions, I found myself whistling. It would be nice to get back to running for my life again. I'd begun to miss it...but nevermind. There was work to be done, information to be gained, plans to be made...

By the time I got to One Street, I was snapping my fingers, too.

THE END




Minority Report
Minority Report
By Beckett Grey

Do you remember Blade Runner? Okay, now do you remember Impostor? There's a reason for this.

Phillip K. Dick is a wonderful author, but his books were not meant to be directly translated into film. They just ain't that kind of books. Anyone who has ever read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? will probably concur.

The point is: a) Phillip K. Dick novels were not meant to be translated into visual form, and b) There is more to good science fiction than science. Steven Spielberg is slowly getting the idea (we're already years ahead of A.I., gods help us), but he's still missing the meat of the thing. Let me clarify:

Minority Report tells the story of Detective John Anderton (played by the surreptitiously aging Tom Cruise). He is accused of a crime he's supposed to commit in about 48 hours. This can be done, you see, because of a complex system of computers and wood-carving machines that centers around three semi-conscious telepaths, who recieve the murders as visions before they actually happen. The police force, being policey and forceful, has put them to work as crime-predicting machines and built a whole department around them. The head of this department, the deceptively kind-looking Lamar Burgess (Max Von Sydow!) is probably the single most convincing facet of the movie. If the devil took a fancy to the human race, and came to Earth with the intention of enslaving us all to his flaming red Hell-Machines, he'd probably look like Max Von Sydow...at least for a while.

Anderton, convinced of his own innocence, runs like the only man with diarrhea in the only building in Chicago without plumbing. A lot of passably convincing and technologically violent things happen, and the rest of the movie is spent figuring out what the hell is really going on. Chasing our boy Anderton is Detective Ed Witwer (Colin Farrell who, despite looking a bit like Brad Pitt's younger brother, has a great part), who has that 'I'm not a nice guy' aura of the 1930's film noir detectives, but still comes off as likeable.

The problem with this film is not in the special effects- or not entirely in the special effects- which are well-done, though a little overglassy. It is not in the acting, which is usually on par, even for Mr. Cruise. It's not in the storyline, which flows well enough, if you ignore a few notable plot holes. It's not even in the basis for the story, which is overused, but not badly done. The reason Minority Report just doesn't quite work, is because it doesn't stick in the mind of the watcher, and the reason that it doesn't stick in the mind of the watcher is because it doesn't have a philosophy. It's just there- Spielburg's pound of flesh, almost like he was doing penance for making A.I. It doesn't have a life of it's own. Think about the movies that stick with us in science fiction: Blade Runner. Aliens. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Movies that live and breathe all on their own. Minority Report feels like a complex and beautiful creature that only lives when Spielburg pumps air through it's lungs.

In the end, Minority Report will recieve 7 out of 10 stars, just as soon as you read it. See? Knew that would happen.

Best Scene: Anything that happened on the freeway. I liked the freeway.
Most Memorable Line: "Is this now?"
Things that make you go 'huh?': Eh, I don't even feel like going into it...



Reign of Fire
Reign of Fire
By Chrispian H. Burks

I've been waiting for this movie for a while now. I even made myself some Reign of Fire wallpaper for my computer. I'm not a fan of Christian Bale nor Matthew McConaughey but Izabella Scorupco is another story all together. Despite the choice in actors, I was surprised by the depth of the main character as well as Bale's performance.

The story is pretty straight forward, though interesting. Dragons were an ancient creature that roamed the earth before dinosaurs and was responsible for their extinction. Now they are awake and hungry. In a short time they've nearly destroyed the earth.

The creature effects were excellent. But what I liked about this movie was how human the characters were. How caring they were to one another even though they had to be harder and tougher to survive. They weren't afraid to show Quinn's (Bale) soft side without taking away his balls. I was refreshing.

The rest of the cast, save for McConaughey didn't get a great deal of screen time. McConaughey did have some great scenes as did Butler and Scorupco, I do think a good deal of the story hit the cutting room floor in order to keep it at the magic 1 hour 40 min mark so it could show more times per day. A couple of scenes from the commercials didn't even make it to the movie and several scenes were obviously cut short. Maybe we'll get them back in the DVD.

All in all, an excellent movie and it will be going in my collection. I give it an 4 out of 5.


Eight Legged Freaks
Eight Legged Freaks
By Chrispian H. Burks

I love nuclear waste, it reminds me of the 80's and all those campy horror movies that we all know and love. Who doesn't love a good mutant zombie flick? Eight Legged Freaks captures that campy style perfectly.

The special effects, though great quality, are still cheesy and easy to spot. They even go to the trouble of adding little giggling, screaming, and other noises to the spiders to give them that extra little bit of cheese to push them right over the top.

There we no outstanding acting performances in this movie which is why you can get away with casting David Arquette and Kari Wuhrer as leads. They kept with the camp movie spirit. The laughs were good, the running was plentiful, and the screams didn't let up. There were even a few creepy spots in this movie. I'm pretty sure I heard a few girls scream, including my Wife and Brother.

I really enjoyed this film. It would do the folks over at Troma proud. I give this flick a 6 out of 8 legs.

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