G-Force 7 1/2

Smart. Imaginative. Independent. Creative. Hilarious. Sweet. Stubborn. Fun. Those are just some of the words I could use to describe my 7 1/2 year-old daughter. But one of the most fun and imaginative things about her is her willingness to dive into certain shows or characters or movies and not come out of the water until she’s completed everything about it. Yes, this is normal kid behavior. Thankfully.

It started with Dora the Explorer, as it does with most little girls nowadays. Simultaneously dabbling in Clifford and Blue’s Clues. But Spongebob Squarepants changed all that baby stuff. Next up was the Disney Princesses. Then she hit the Godzilla phase. Had to watch every Godzilla movie, which of course Dad had on DVD or VHS (there are three G movies not available in the US on DVD ugh), in order natch. Then came The Simpsons phase, where she watched every available season on DVD, Seasons 1 through 13 and 20 (Yes, Dad has them all), watched all the episodes in order and quotes them endlessly bless her heart, focusing on my favorite episodes bless her heart again. Now she’s on the Pokemon phase, DVRing old episodes and newer episodes and buying cards with her own money and video games.

But the reason for this post is not to chronicle my daughter’s life actually, but mostly to share/show off photos of some awesome and imaginative artwork she created during Godzilla phase #3 (she cycles back and forth with these phases) during downtime at school. Funny enough, the only other character she’s drawn is Spongebob. Love this kid! Enjoy the pics!

Godzilla and son Milla

Godzilla's Revenge

Godzilla vs Gigan

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla soldiers

Godzilla vs King Ghidorah

Godzilla vs Mothra: The Battle for Earth

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 1993

Godzilla vs Destroyah



Published in: on January 20, 2011 at 10:06 pm  Comments (3)  
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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 13 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 25 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was February 26th with 47 views. The most popular post that day was En-taaaa!.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, obama-scandal-exposed.co.cc, mail.yahoo.com, revengeofthehatroom.wordpress.com, and WordPress Dashboard.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for jaws poster, quint jaws, jaws quint, ishiro honda, and jaws.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


En-taaaa! February 2010


Fast Fish June 2010


The list is almost endless February 2010


What rhymes with “poetry”? April 2010


Doc, Doc, Goose June 2010

Published in: on January 2, 2011 at 11:02 am  Comments (1)  

Take Me To The River

This year, for our 10th anniversary, my awesome wife bought me a Blu-Ray player. Now I will admit I was a little hesitant at first only because I knew a Blu-Ray player would cost me money due to my DVD addiction. But I vowed not to upgrade existing DVDs unless the extras were out of this world. Of course, I broke that soon with some great deals that could not be passed up (Blade Runner, Braveheart, Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan) and much better editions (Red Cliff, The Exorcist). But the smartest upgrade so far? Apocalypse Now: Full Disclosure Edition. By far.

This is the good stuff

Of course, I already had The Complete Dossier DVD, which remains unopened, but after doing due diligence by searching some reviews (Dad would have been proud), I thought it would be worth it to upgrade to the Apocalypse Now Blu-Ray. Is it? Well, while recovering from gallbladder surgery recently, I decided to line up a bunch of movies to watch in order to kill time in between pain meds (if needed) and found myself stuck mostly on one in particular — my new Apocalypse Now Blu-Ray. Lemme tell ya, it’s worth running out and buying a Blu-Ray player right now.

This high-def version of Apocalypse looks amazing, and sounds incredibly amazing, even on my two little Bose speakers that sound like full surround given the proper medium. One of my top ten favorite movies, I first saw Apocalypse Now as a 12-year-old back in 1979 because my Dad, bless his heart, took us to see everything. It made an instant and lasting impression. You all know the story of this Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece, based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is ordered to go up river and terminate the command of seemingly gone-loco Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). He travels with a band of misfits and they encounter adventure, danger, and surrealism from start to finish. And it’s freakin’ awesome.

The original Hot Tub Time Machine?

Everyone knows the issues Coppola had making the movie. Typhoon, madness, budgets, replacement casting, the star having a heart attack. If not, the Blu-Ray also includes the bravura documentary Hearts of Darkness, a must-see for all film fans which can help fill in the blanks.

The cast is uniformly amazing, from Sheen to Brando to Dennis Hopper to Frederic Forrest to Sam Bottoms to a teenaged Laurence Fishburne. My fave is the underrated Albert Hall as The Chief. And of course the cliché favorite is Robert Duvall as Col. Kilgore and everyone endlessly quotes his “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” But to me it’s more the little things that make Duvall’s performance so memorable, whether it’s his drinking coffee in the helicopter during the famous Ride of the Valkyries attack which remains one of the most incredible scenes ever filmed (and I now realize James Cameron may have swiped this for Stephen Lang’s character in Avatar) or when Kilgore lets the guy holding in his guts drink from his canteen, but once someone mentions surfer Lance Johnson is with Willard, he forgets about the guy in a heartbeat. For my money the best Kilgore line is “What do you know about surfing, you’re from goddamn New Jersey!”

Now that's how you make a movie poster

Speaking of the helicopter attack scene, famously set to some classic Wagner, it was all pre-CGI (duh). Imagine what Michael Bay would do with that today, with 258 computer generated helicopters and 10,000 explosions in 5 minutes. Well, it would be unwatchable for one.

I watched the Apocalypse Now Redux edition since the BR features both the theatrical and Redux, which I hadn’t seen yet, and has around 45 minutes of added scenes. Some work, some don’t. The extra Playboys Bunnies scene is effective, a bit heartbreaking and strange. With boobies.

The Plantation scene has been described in a couple of reviews as slowing the movie down, and it’s slightly true. It’s also borderline preachy, angry (oh, those silly French), and it seems like the crew is there for a week’s vacation. And there’s an opium smoking scene that features even more boobies, which doesn’t really seem necessary (not that there’s anything wrong with the idea though). But it does contain a nice sendoff for Mr. Clean, and if I could pick out the best thing about the Plantation scene, it makes the following scene even more jarring and more powerful than before.

The extras on the Blu-Ray are worth the price of admission. Among the new features not included on The Complete Dossier are excellent and enjoyable interviews between Coppola and screenwriter John Milius and star Martin Sheen. Milius gets a lot of credit from Coppola for creating Apocalypse Now, especially for the characters and the Wagner/helicopter scene. They kept bringing up George Lucas, which I thought was odd, but it turns out (which I did not know) Lucas was supposed to direct Apocalypse but instead went to do Star Wars (thankfully), and second choice Milius directed The Wind and the Lion instead. Coppola needed to make money for Zoetrope, so decided to direct a Guns of Navarone-type action epic. Um…not quite. But it’s ok, ’cause his movie is better.

Sheen’s interview, the first thing you notice is his big fake choppers. Well, they look fake although I don’t think they are. He and Coppola have a hoot reminiscing in the same studio where they recorded Willard’s voiceover narration, sharing lots of laughs, and some good inside info too.

The horror, the horror...of not owning this Blu-Ray

And there’s SO much more to watch: featurettes on the sound, sound design (they basically invented 5.1 for the movie), music (a bunch of percussionists scored the entire film at one point), casting (Nick Nolte? Really?), and so on, including deleted scenes, a lost scene, alternate credits with commentary. Man. I quite simply can’t recommend this Blu-Ray highly enough. I still have to watch Hearts of Darkness, which I only saw once with a band of great friends back at Film Forum long ago, and which here includes even more extras, plus listen to Coppola’s audio commentary. No reason not to take another trip or two up river.

Published in: on December 1, 2010 at 12:28 am  Comments (5)  
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So I guess I was the last self-proclaimed film geek to see Avatar. Back at the end of July (yes, I’ve been meaning to post about it for that long but haven’t made the time) I watched it on Blu-ray, courtesy of the fine folks at Netflix. Is Avatar the biggest box-office hit of all time because it’s the greatest movie ever? Nah. Honestly, I thought it was just OK. Would I have liked James Cameron’s film more if I had seen it in 3D in the theaters? Maybe, but probably not.

I’m not going to bore anyone with a mundane recap of the plot here. You’ve probably all seen Avatar already anyway. And read plenty of recaps of the story too. Suffice it to say there’s a lot to like about Avatar, but it suffers from similar issues as Titanic. Mainly a little too long, and a below-average screenplay. That’s not to say James Cameron is a bad filmmaker. I love the first two Terminators, and Aliens is awesome. I like The Abyss and True Lies is OK. I even like Titanic, besides the aforementioned negatives. But I feel Avatar didn’t live up to the hype. Now, none of my friends have said it’s the greatest movie ever, but there has to be a handful of people out there who think so, probably more. I just don’t know any of them.


Meaner and more musical than the Na'vi


The effects are fantastic. Yeah, you can tell it’s CGI/motion capture in a lot of parts with the Na’vi, but in other parts it looks damn good. The battle scene at the end is borderline spectacular. The sets are ambitiously great (but maybe, as one fellow blogger friend with a hat room has brought up, Pandora and the album art of Roger Dean have a little too much in common). The cinematography is great too. And the Blu-ray disc looks and sounds absolutely incredible.

But…the acting is a bit hammy at times. Yeah, I’m talking to you Giovanni Ribisi and Stephen Lang. (OK, maybe not Stephen Lang because you expect him to be a little hammy. And I did like the stupid thing he did drinking coffee in the cockpit of the battle ship. And he’s a nasty SOB throughout.) The leads are just OK. The Pandorian beasts looked a bit fake at times, but then again they are alien. The story is mildly interesting, and maybe a little silly, but certainly good for techno-geeks. And eco-geeks. And Blue Man Group geeks. OK, maybe not the last group.


Bigger, fatter, and less honest than the Na'vi


So, do I recommend Avatar? Well, it’s certainly worth seeing. Would I see it again? Maybe. Yeah, I guess once more wouldn’t kill me. Would I want to own it though? Eh….

Published in: on October 11, 2010 at 10:48 pm  Comments (4)  
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When The Music’s (Thankfully Never) Over

When it comes to music, Genesis is my favorite band. Others that are up there near the top include The Beatles, Rush, Led Zeppelin, and Foo Fighters. But there’s one band that I’ve loved since my silly teen years that I keep coming back to over and over. An immortal band that produced incredible music in a (way too) short period of time. A band whose frontman may just be known more for burning out quickly than his musical talent. That band would be The Doors.

The Doors themselves

Every studio album is a classic from start to finish. The Doors, Strange Days, Waiting for the Sun, The Soft Parade, Morrison Hotel, L.A. Woman. Even Absolutely Live is great.

Recently, I finally watched my DVD of When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors, written and directed by Tom DiCillo (Living in Oblivion) and narrated by Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd, etc etc etc). Bought the DVD the week it came out and, like all DVDs I buy, it sat on the shelf neglected until the mood struck me at the same time I had time to watch it. Actually, I made time, opening up a fresh bottle of wine at 11 pm and firing up the DVD player. And as my interest grew with each passing moment, history was made. (OK, maybe just in my mind.) Damn, what a fantastic movie.

Cool poster, too

I’ve read so much about The Doors through the years, from No One Here Gets Out Alive by Danny Sugerman to Riders on The Storm by John Densmore, to a Doors book that’s hiding somewhere among my 30 or so waiting to be read, and have always been entertained. The saga of Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore fascinates me. And this film was no exception.

Placing The Doors (who were only a band for 52 months) in their historical context by combining a band bio with short commentary on the turbulent 1960s, DiCillo uses only actual footage of the band to tell their story. Still photos, home movies, interview clips, live performances, concert footage. Sure, it’s been done before, but so what? It’s mesmerizing. Maybe the footage from the lost Jim Morrison movie “HWY” is a little bit of a miss, but hey, where else are you going to see that? The DVD also includes an interesting short interview with Morrison’s father and sister. I could go on (great soundtrack of course, good narration by Depp), but you should just see it for yourself if you haven’t already. Especially if you’re a Doors fan.

P.S. It’s been a great year for music documentaries. In addition to When You’re Strange, the terrific Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage was released, giving Rush a seemingly new relevancy. (Even though they’ve never gone away and are still making awesome music.) And there’s the long-awaited Lemmy, which premiered at the South by Southwest festival this year, and will hopefully be coming to DVD soon. Those three alone are a great year for any genre of film.

Published in: on August 29, 2010 at 10:52 pm  Comments (5)  
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Fast Fish

Last Saturday, June 20th, was not only Father’s Day, and the birthday of one of my oldest and closest friends, but also the 35th anniversary of the release of JAWS, otherwise known as the second greatest movie ever made.

Everyone knows this poster

Of course when JAWS was released in the summer of 1975, my family saw it in the theaters, Dad being an avid fisherman as well as a movie buff. It seemed like the perfect movie for him. We even had the Peter Benchley novel the movie was based on, which my Mom liked but I never read until later in life after getting the laserdisc set as a gift (more on that later). Seeing the movie with another family that lived around the corner from us in scenic Maspeth, NY, I vividly remember ducking under the seat when Alex Kintner was killed on the raft, something I would never do today. I guess seeing The Omen at the ripe old age of 9 the following year cured me of that kind of reaction.

Later in the summer I saw JAWS again with my Dad, this time double billed with the Robert Redford drama The Great Waldo Pepper, a good little time-killer. But obviously we weren’t there to see Mr. Redford fly a biplane.


So many memories and impressions of JAWS….To me, it’s still Steven Spielberg’s best film. I love the tracking shot where Quint is “introduced” during the town meeting, panning up to him at the chalkboard. Subtle, yet classic.

So many terrific lines, from the overly-quoted “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” to the TV sign off “That’s some bad hat, Harry” to the ominous “I’ll never put on a life jacket again”. But my fave (which my daughter and I like to do every once in a while) is “It’s a Tiger shark.” “A whuuuut?” “Tiger shark.”

So many great performances, most notably the incredibly underrated performance from Roy Scheider as Brody. Underrated in that it’s not as showy as Robert Shaw’s Quint or as loud as Richard Drefyuss’ Hooper, but at times, is twice as effective. (“It’s in the yahd, not too fah from the cah.”) The scene at the dinner table, right before Hooper arrives, with the younger Brody son (cue soft John Williams music…), is a particular fave, and is one of the first “cute kid” scenes in Spielberg’s directorial career.

Whatdya mean you don't like JAWS?

Speaking of John Williams, is there any doubt this is one of his best scores? I mean, the JAWS theme is easily one of the most iconic pieces of film music ever. And you could argue that Williams’ Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones, and possibly even Harry Potter themes deserve a spot in the Top Ten.

Williams deservedly earned an Oscar for his Score (JAWS also won well-deserved Oscars for Best Sound and Best Editing for Verna Fields). My favorite part of the score is “One Barrel Chase”, which turns a suspense movie into a rollicking sea adventure for a minute or two. I remember it was my Dad’s favorite also, and he even went so far as to record some of the music cues on cassette when JAWS was shown on TV.

All the cool kids still have Laserdiscs

I always had a fondness for JAWS, but didn’t truly appreciate its greatness until receiving the Limited Edition Universal Signature Collection Laserdisc as a gift from a dear friend who to this day knows me better than just about anyone. It’s still one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. It contains a fabulously remastered edition of the movie in THX and CAV (you laserdisc geeks know what that is), as well as a nifty, must-see two hour documentary by famed documentarian Laurent Bouzereau, plus a copy of the Benchley novel and a soundtrack CD. Yowza!

Watching this masterpiece again on laserdisc, probably in early 1996, in widescreen/letterboxed format instead of pan-and-scan (yuck) for the first time since 1975, on a 26-inch TV (hey, back then that was a decent size) vaulted it immediately to the second spot in my list of favorite movies. And it ain’t movin’ from that spot. I only wish I could have dragged my Dad over to the apartment to check it out before he passed away in November of that year.

In addition to JAWS being back in the news lately among film nuts because of the 35th anniversary, I’m also eagerly awaiting the eventual DVD/Blu-Ray release of a JAWS documentary that I’ve been hearing about for nearly two years called The Shark Is Still Working. It supposedly runs three hours….three hours on JAWS! Sign me up!

OK, I have to go, and grab my JAWS DVD from the shelf. You see, I’m in the mood for a little boat trip….

For more on this pivotal anniversary in the history of film, go here, or here, or even here, or any of the hundreds of other sites smart enough to mark the occasion.

Published in: on June 25, 2010 at 10:00 pm  Comments (9)  
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The Last in Line?

Jack Harrison, believed to be the last survivor of “The Great Escape” from Stalag Luft III in WWII (which according to the msn.com article cannot be confirmed), passed away this past Friday in his native Scotland, at the age of 97 (god bless him!).

As a camp gardener, Harrison was on the dirt disposal team, part of the crew that was responsible for getting rid of the dirt that was dug up in the multiple tunnels started in the POW camp. (Check out some cool pics and more in this article from The Sun)

Harrison was 98th in line of the planned 200 escapees. (In the film–the greatest movie ever made if I haven’t mentioned that yet today– it was 250, much to Steve McQueen’s Virgil Hilts’ amazement in a memorable scene: “250 men just walking down the street….”) Of course, Harrison’s number never came up as the men were found out at number 76. But his legacy remains as part of the greatest POW escape ever undertaken, which made for a fabulous book by Paul Brickhill (there are many other books too, of which I’ve only read the enjoyable The Longest Tunnel by Alan Burgess, but now have to read more… and more and more!) and of course, the epic, terrific, spectacular 1963 John Sturges all-star classic, my all-time favorite film.

For even more info on this story, check out today’s post from the entertaining and superbly detailed film scholar known as Bradley On Film.

RIP, Jack Harrison.

Published in: on June 9, 2010 at 10:35 pm  Comments (3)  

Doc, Doc, Goose

I’m a big fan of film documentaries. Whether they’re specific to one movie (Hearts of Darkness; the Jaws documentary that originally appeared on the super laserdisc set), one personality (Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures), or a decade’s worth of cinema (Easy Riders, Raging Bulls; A Decade Under The Influence).

This week, I had the good fortune to catch two documentaries on cable. TMC premiered The Eastwood Factor, an in-depth look at the directing career of Clint Eastwood, in celebration of the legend’s 80th birthday. Written and directed by noted critic Richard Schickel, it takes a quick yet detailed look at Clint’s directing career at Warner Bros. (It also makes a nice tie-in with Schickel’s new book, Clint, naturally).

That's Josey, not Josie

Narrated from a first-person perspective by the great Morgan Freeman, whom Clint has directed in Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby (Freeman’s Oscar®-winning role), and Invictus, The Eastwood Factor features candid interviews with a sometimes gray-bearded Clint himself, a nifty look at a Warner lot that holds all the costumes from Clint’s films, and movie clips galore. A must for Clint fans, of course, and for film doc lovers.

The second, watched just last night, was the HBO documentary I Know It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale, directed by Richard Shepard (The MatadorThe Hunting Party). It’s a too-short, 45-minute portrait of the terrific actor John Cazale, who only appeared in five films before succumbing to lung cancer at the age of 42: The Godfather, The Godfather Part IIThe ConversationDog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter.

The two Godfathers stand on their own, and Cazale is simply fantastic as Fredo, the stumble-bum Corleone brother with dreams of becoming a bigger part of the family. The Conversation is an absolute gem starring Gene Hackman as a surveillance expert and Cazale as his assistant (a role written by Francis Ford Coppola just for Cazale). Dog Day Afternoon is not a big favorite of mine, but it’s still well-directed by Sidney Lumet and well-acted all around. Holding a special place in my heart is The Deer Hunter, not only for the experience of seeing it on the big screen as a just-turned 12-year-old, but it’s also the last movie I watched as a single man, the night before my wedding. (Yeah, it’s a guy movie, definitely.) And, yes Cazale is excellent as Stanley, the whiny eccentric who seems to try way too hard whenever possible to fit in with his buddies but is still a pivotal part of their inner circle.

Cazale (left) and the Hunters of Deer

A worthwhile use of any film lover’s time, I Know It Was You is highlighted by a slew of interviews and remembrances by family, friends, and film luminaries such as actors Steve Buscemi, Sam Rockwell, and Philip Seymour Hoffman (all of whom are obviously influenced by Cazale), directors Sidney Lumet, Francis Ford Coppola, and Brett Ratner (ok, maybe Ratner’s not so luminous, but he did co-produce the documentary so he has that going for him if nothing else), and icons/co-stars Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, Robert De Niro (De Niro’s generosity allowed the filmmakers to cast the ailing Cazale in The Deer Hunter), and Meryl Streep, who had an intimate relationship with Cazale and is positively glowing when sharing her memories of him. Heck, the doc even features a clip of The Simpsons over the end credits, where Buscemi notes he voiced a bank robber character with a sidekick that resembled Cazale’s Sal in Dog Day.

Definitely check out both documentaries. You’ll be happy you did.

Published in: on June 3, 2010 at 10:54 pm  Comments (5)  
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Kaiju Koincidence

I’m reminded today by the good folks at Bradley On Film that May 7th is the fabulous director Ishiro Honda’s birthday, a day where he would have been 99 years young.

Ishiro Honda

It’s also my daughter’s 7th birthday today. Considering how a couple of years ago she fell in love with Godzilla movies (and who wouldn’t!), it’s only fitting that she shares her birthday with Honda, who is extremely important to both my life and cinema history, having directed one of the most influential sci-fi movies ever made with 1954’s Gojira (aka  Godzilla…duh…), as well as many other kaiju films and sci-fi treats, including the mega-fun Destroy All Monsters, which was one of my favorite movies growing up (thank you, 4:30 Movie!). Happy birthday, Ishiro Honda!!

Now that's a birthday party!

Published in: on May 7, 2010 at 9:44 am  Comments (5)  
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What rhymes with “poetry”?

April is National Poetry Month.

Back in the day (high school and college), I fancied myself a poet. Reading most of my work today, I wonder what I was thinking. But hey, creativity is still creativity, no matter how mediocre, no? (And believe me, most of those poems were mediocre at best.)

I’m not one of those people who go out of their way to read poetry, or attend poetry readings, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at either situation. If I had to pick a favorite poet, it would be Kenneth Koch. Saw him read at Queens College (the jewel of the CUNY system) during my sophomore year and he was charming, laid-back and hilarious. And his poetry, although some of it a bit long, is chock full of vivid images, straight-shooting revelations, and clever use of the written word.

My favorite work of Koch’s is The Magic of Numbers. As an assignment in a Poetry class in college my junior year, we were asked to write a poem inspired by a favorite poet, and I used Koch’s work to come up with this, one of the few poems I’ve written that I can actually look back on and say I still like. Will you agree? Beats me….(And yes, the spaces in some of the lines are done on purpose. I’m an artist, dammit.)

The Folly of Numbers 
Some think numbers
To be magic
But in this world
Of romance
Sex            breasts
And colors
The only number
That counts is

I know
I am twentytwo
And you are twentyone
And we could play
Twentyquestions all night
Without a word            or words
But you and he
Are the two
And I am the three
The third
The triskaidekaphobiac
The outside
Voyeur            looking in
At pink pumpkins
And red legs
Masked all year round
By magic            when
Folly is the
Actual norm

P.S. Continuing with National Poetry Month, make sure to check out this awesome site of poetic genius: Godzilla Haiku. Do it now, or The Big G will step on you. Darn, should have done that in haiku form….

Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 1:42 pm  Comments (7)  
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