haxbee

Goosebumps

I watched Goosebumps earlier this week as research for our coming Spring 2016 Hollywood auction (which includes, in addition to Goosebumps props and costumes, items from The Interview and The Walk). The movie stars Jack Black as R.L. Stine.

R.L. Stine, of course, is the ultra-prolific author of horror and children’s literature. His Goosebumps series is extremely popular. He has been referred to as the “Stephen King of children’s literature.” He has a small cameo in Goosebumps the movie, a la Stan Lee, a la Alfred Hitchcock.

Frankly, I thought the movie was well done. I didn’t have any expectations and was rewarded with a slightly above average kids’ flick. If I was eight years old, I would have liked it very much.

But…

That ending.

[WARNING: SPOIL ALERT.]

The movie is about R.L. Stine’s monsters from his books coming to life. Something about a magic typewriter that never really was explained. Zach, a new kid in town, his new best friend, Champ (short for Champion and that’s really the kid’s name, don’t ask), and Stine’s daughter, Hannah, inadvertently release a socialpathic ventriloquist dummy, who for revenge against Stine, unleashes the rest of the monsters to reek havoc on the town of Madison, Delaware.

The plot twist of the movie is that Stine’s daughter, Hannah, is a character in one of Stine’s book that Stine brought to life because he doesn’t want to be alone. So when Zach saves the day by recapturing all the monsters and putting them back inside the books, Hannah had to go too. Zach becomes broken-hearted, because kids…

Anyhow, the final scene of the movie shows that Stine has written another book about Hannah and has released her into the world. Zach sees her at school (she’s now attending the same high school) and they embraced and kissed. Stine lights a fire to the book, thereby destroying it and making Hannah a permanent “character” in real life. Life happily ever after.

What?

The kid falls in love with an imaginary character that for all intents and purposes is made up just for him. What message are we sending to today’s kids??

Other than this minor detail, it was a decent movie.

The Revenant

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Golden Globe Best Picture, The Reveant, is a fantastically harsh tale of survival and revenge, where men’s intentions, beliefs and motivations clash against the backdrop of an unforgiving American frontier. It is brutal and difficult to watch at times, yet beautiful in scope and cinematography. The camerawork is tremendous, as we are accustomed to expect from Iñárritu. Leonardo Di Caprio is excellent, perhaps his best work to date. Tom Hardy deserves credit as well, although he did not receive any award nominations. It may not stack up against past Best Picture Oscar winners, but worth watching in the context of this years crop of films.

Bitter Winds of Winter

As disappointed as I am, along with everyone else, that Winds of Winter will not be released before the start of HBO’s Game of Thrones season 6, it is amusing to see the outrage expressed on the internet. Indeed, most outrages nowadays are only manifested online, behind a cloak of anonymity and a false sheen of virtual courage. It’s a dumbfounding phenomenon. (Ben Carson was right about internet comments.)

Yet, reading George R.R. Martin’s response to the reactions set me at ease. While the TV show and the hectic publicity schedule undoubtedly put tremendous pressure on him, the fear I had was that his storytelling might have been compromised for the sake of deadlines. How could it not? The pace of the show certainly was nipping at his heels. Add to that the vehemence of fans, detractors, trolls and haters. Surely he was feeling heat. Or so one would think.

From George’s blog post, it is clear that he works at his own pace and the world be damned. “I am going back to my stance from last March, before all this,” he wrote. “It will be done when it’s done. And it will be as good as I can possibly make it.”

Of course, the stress is there, but:

“I won’t make excuses. There are no excuses. No one else is to blame. Not my editors and publishers, not HBO, not David & Dan. It’s on me. I tried, and I am still trying. I worked on the book a couple of days ago, revising a Theon chapter and adding some new material, and I will writing on it again tomorrow. But no, I can’t tell you when it will be done, or when it will be published. Best guess, based on our previous conversations, is that Bantam (and presumably my British publisher as well) can have the hardcover out within three months of delivery, if their schedules permit. But when delivery will be, I can’t say. I am not going to set another deadline for myself to trip over. The deadlines just stress me out.”

Personally, I am relieved. Winds of Winter will be great whenever it comes out.

“Meanwhile, I’ll keep writing. Chapter at a time. Page at a time. Word at a time. That’s all I know how to do.”

Starman

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I discovered David Bowie later in life. I believe the impact was no less greater than it would have been if I knew about him earlier. Bowie’s persona was timeless. There are few human beings as unique as The Starman.

Discovering Bowie later in life has one advantage for me. I get to appreciate the discovery through years of my own prismatic experiences, having racked up decades of failures and triumphs, heartaches and euphoria. Through life’s complex lenses, Bowie sparkles.

Looking at his life and body of work, Bowie had undeniable panache. Of the many faces, fashion styles, art, and musical genres he had touched, all were uniquely his and his alone. I am enjoying discovering David Bowie. There is so much of his life and art to dive into, so many aspects of the man to admire.

Rest in peace, David Bowie.

Tarantino Returns with a Bang

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Tarantino films are not for everyone. But if you like his other films, Hateful Eight will delight you to no end. Go see in as Tarantino intended: in 70mm. The Arclight is the only theater chain offering this version. There will be no trailers, so don’t be late. It’s a three hour movie with a 12-minute intermission. Buckle in for a great ride.

Year End Talley

Last year was a series of personal trials for me. Truth be told, I failed most of these challenges. After a period of silent agony and self-pity, I fell onto the root of my failures. Simply put: I wanted. I desired. Things. People. Outcomes. My need to have something or someone or some result caused me hurt, anger and disappointment when I didn’t get what I coveted, or someone I desired, or an outcome I anticipated. I was mad often, lashed out frequently, and hurt people close to me. I shunned socialness and eschewed personal dignity.

After the anger subsided a bit and I spent time reflecting, I discovered the one technique that helped me counteract all the negativity I had generated around myself. That technique is actually quite simple, but it takes practice because it doesn’t come naturally. And that’s gratitude.

Practicing gratitude helps you get over the things that you don’t have, the people who don’t choose you, and the outcomes that didn’t go your way by reminding you of that thing that you already have, the people who are currently in your life, and the good things that have happened to you. Practicing gratitude shifts your focus on the absence to the presence. Your perspective will change. You will feel better, positive, and energize. For being grateful means being open to possibilities.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Breathe

From Zen Habits:

Breathe.

If you feel overwhelmed, breathe. It will calm you and release the tensions.

If you are worried about something coming up, or caught up in something that already happened, breathe. It will bring you back to the present.

If you are moving too fast, breathe. It will remind you to slow down, and enjoy life more.

Breathe, and enjoy each moment of this life. They’re too fleeting and few to waste.

Auctions and Publishing

As fun and rewarding as our foray into publishing has been, our bread and butter remains the auctions. For now at least.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo auction went as well as can be expected. It’s a four year old movie with no hope of a sequel, as David Fincher has essentially moved on from the franchise and the stars were only committed to the project as long as Fincher helmed it. The interest level in the costumes and props was lukewarm, given the contemporary costumes. The props, along with jewelry, actually outperformed the wardrobe. In the end, we still sold every lot.

Now comes the Pixels auction, which from a visual standpoint offers a “better” collection. Of course, the movie was not great. What it does have going for it, though, is Peter Dinklage, cameos by Dan Aykroyd and Serena Williams, and aliens in the forms of vintage 1980s video games. The props are original and the “Arcaders” jumpsuits are visually striking.

We expect to have this auction by mid-November before the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Seriously, don’t fuck with me.”

This is the letter Stanley Kubrick wrote to James T. Aubrey, Jr. of M.G.M. objecting to the proposed sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban has shown himself to be a savvy businessman and sports owner. He isn’t afraid to speak his mind and he’s been candid with controversial issues no matter the public opinion. I don’t agree with many of his positions in politics and pro-business policies, but I respect his principles. Today he sent out a message through his app, Cyber Dust, that made me respect him even more. Here it is unedited and in full:

I am so ready for the Mavs season to start. Until then the sport of the day is politics. Today’s game is trashing the Republican Party

I would prefer to be a Republican. I want smaller government. I want smarter government. Just like most Republicans
Put aside that I disagree with Republicans on most social issues. The Republicans have a much bigger problem that will crush them in every Presidential election until this changes.

The Republican Party requires that all their Presidential candidates Conform to Consensus.
If you don’t agree with every platform of the party not only are you called a RINO, a “Republican in Name Only. You are considered unelectable in primaries and become a source of scorn on Fox News

That’s a problem.

Leaders don’t conform to the consensus. They create consensus to their vision and goals.
Leaders don’t change their positions mid debate. They welcome scorn from the masses because it creates the opportunity for dialogue.

Leaders don’t look backwards to condemn what has already been done, they look forward to create a better future.

Leaders are not dogmatic. They are principled and know that change is never easy, but when it’s necessary, they must lead.

The Republican Party does everything possible to discourage leadership.

They want dogma.

They want conformity.

They want to conserve their romanticized past.

That’s a shame. I wish they wanted to conserve the best of what America is today and find a leader that can take us to new places that make our future better.

I realize that’s not the way politics work in this day and age. And that just proves the point.

And btw, I know a lot of the same can be said about the democrats, but I don’t want to be a democrat.

Until things change, I’ll sit in the middle and think for myself. Unlike the Republicans

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