Off my chest.


Not exactly, although it sometimes feels like that looks.

No, I just wanted to take the chance to get in a little therapy with another post.
I am in my early '40s which, to any psychiatric types reading along, might explain everything neatly.

But I sometimes wonder how a happy, well-adjusted, handsome, talented, successful, middle-aged man in a devoted and loving longterm relationship can still somehow manage to feel like a goddamned teenager with a schoolboy crush.

I mean... seriously, I thought I'd grow out of that kind of over-the-top, depressing, lovesick feeling that used to plague my early years any time I'd see the face or hear the voice of the current 'girl I needed to marry', and there were quite a few, as any healthy teen can well appreciate.

Don't we grow up, though? Doesn't that pubescent madness go away?

It's not all the time, of course. Most of the time it's joy and nostalgia and pleasure. But every so often... wow.
Why? Why this ripping, breaking, unfulfillable feeling over a work of fiction? Not just the actress but the character -- a character written by mortal men for Christ's sake?

God, my heart.
Sometimes... it just hurts.

I sometimes have dreams that remind me I've been insane
for over thirty years, over a fictional character.

Now let's get real for a moment, shall we? I am no crazy stalker. I'll never write a letter (to 'Ripley'? What?) or walk past her house (where, in space?) or go through her garbage looking for who-knows-what-those-kinds-of-people-look-for. I'm certainly not about to start bombing Sigourney's mailbox with birthday and holiday greetings laced with insinuations that we were meant to be together.

This is because firstly, I'm not a raving lunatic, and secondly, for almost two decades I've been very happily, gratifyingly paired with a fantastic Ripley of my own and am not about to suddenly go batshit psychotic and rip my life apart for a piece of f'ing fiction.

I'm just... a sap in the occasional serious emotional love-ache over a goddamned fantasy.

You'd think, especially if you've never experienced this kind of feeling, that one could just snap out of it and face reality and stop being a little nutty.

I try. I know she doesn't exist in any external reality -- what am I, a screwball?

But see... because one can't just dial a number, or drive over and sit down and have a chat, or meet somewhere for a drink, or just stare, to look and laugh and love -- can't hold a hand or stroke a cheek -- as utterly stupid as it sounds...

...sometimes it just hurts.

It's a very odd thing to be so... so in tune with someone who isn't real. And not even 'in tune', really. I just find her unplanned leadership, her hidden strengths, her total imperfect perfection of real womanhood so satisfying and desirable that I get a little light-headed when I see her on screen. And I feel such sympathy for her utter lack of good fortune -- seriously, she never catches a real break from Hell for something like 250 years.

I have always felt such admiration for her courage. Her humanity. Her tragic heroism. Her seeming agelessness.

And I suppose it's always a matter of personal taste but you can't tell me her statuesque, elegant physique and stunning, unconventional beauty aren't totally unique, magnetically attractive and just pure sexiness.

I hasten to add it's not just a physical, visual attraction to an actress, though you can't really separate the two of them, can you? I mean, Lord knows Sigourney's been somewhere in my Top 3 since 1979, usually sitting in the #1 spot and only usurped once in a great while by actors of similar character and elegance. I'll not deny I think Mrs. Simpson (oh that lucky, lucky, lucky bastard) is, even at going on 63, absolutely 'real', brilliant, sexy and completely devourable.

Only last year, folks.

Her sultry voice, her manner, her natural humor and wit, her lifelong tireless work for so many important causes... Sure, I'm nuts about her. Everyone should be. She's one of a kind, she's incredible.

But being a grown-up person in the real world, I have never once -- well, not since the dark depths of teenhood -- lost myself in fantasies about "Oh, Sigourney, if only you knew me, you'd see that we we were meant to be!" I admit I LOVE Sigourney Weaver and her work on and off camera, and in films like Dave and A Map of the World and even Snow Cake I could easily fall head over heels, but it's not really about her.

But Ripley...?


I don't know if it's because she could kick my ass, or because she wouldn't lie to me about anything.

I don't know if it's because I want to save her from what's going to happen, or if I just want to be saved by her forever.

I just know I cannot get my mind off how that damned Casio wristwatch looks on her long, lanky arm.

Those ankles in white socks and high top sneaks.

That smooth voice.

Her smudges, sweat and cigarettes.

That chiseled face.

Oh, those eyes.

That fire in her core.

I don't know why I always loved it all.

I just... well. I've been saying "I" too many times now.

It just hurts sometimes.

Hurts like the kid I once was, and apparently am always going to be when it comes to her.

Thanks a lot, Sigourney and Ripley.

There's only one of the former, and the latter only exists on film. Thanks a whole lot.

Still, in seriousness, I am glad you exist if only for one reason (though there are so many). 

See, unlike most men with a trippy fantasy, I do not compare all women to you and find them all wanting, leaving me alone and unrealistic.

No -- I learn from your great humanity things that make us all real, and try to find those things in all people.

Thanks to you, I have most of my life been not just a lover of great characters, but a lover of people of great character.
I just wish it didn't have to hurt sometimes.



A model woman.

We need more kits like these.

So glad the rest of the world loves her too.




Off to investigate some odd noises.

New posts just around that corner...





May Twenty-Fifth.

An important date.

See... today is Ripley's birthday.

On this date in 1979, the world was introduced to one of the greatest horror films of all time, starring the greatest female survivor/warrior of all time.

 Seriously? My God.

 Thirty-two years ago this very day, the world finally met the unique and utterly magnificent Ripley, a Warrant Officer on the USCSS Nostromo, uneventfully towing megatons of raw ore from Thedus to Earth for 'the Company'.

Of course, that 'uneventfully' becomes a very frightening 'eventfully', and cinema/pop-culture horror history were made.

Yes, I wrote 'horror' and I meant horror. For all its sci-fi trappings, Alien is as simple and effective an 'old, dark house with a bad thing in it' horror tale as you will find. It is Jaws in space; it is Night of the Living Dead only with one single bad-ass ghoul; it is Hallowe'en with an alien Michael Myers (and a similarly willing-to-fight-for-her-life 'final girl'); it is science fiction only in the way Star Wars, a cowboy western serial, is science fiction -- the scenery might be Asimov but the atmosphere is pure Lovecraft.


The thirty-second anniversary of a few important creations -- that alien, that facehugger, that chestburster, and that incredible Ripley -- I mean, my God, remember the first time you ever laid eyes on these now iconic images?
Yes, I know. I am a man. And man, is she not.

I'm watching this at least once today. I think you should too.

We raise a glass and give a heartfelt thank you to Giger, Shusett, O'Bannon, Scott... and most importantly, Sigourney Weaver.

You gave us a hero we didn't expect, and didn't even know we needed.

You were such a pleasant surprise.

You were the first woman to make me realize it didn't matter that the hero was a woman, and then that it mattered a whole hell of a lot that you were.

Happy 32nd to you, brave Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo.




I absolutely love...

... her alien smile.



Close calls.

Well. Not that Call. Not yet anyway. We'll get to Alien Resurrection in future posts, of course.

No, I mean "close calls" to refer to a few other strong female leads I've enjoyed in the past.

Most obvious, of course, would have to be the ever-compared-to-Ripley's-greatness Sarah Connor from the Terminator films.

Linda Hamilton's fierce fightin' mom Sarah Connor was/is a refreshing bit of dark fruit for the sci-fi set, and her determination to be ready for The Fight is awe-inspiring. I spent some time deeply enthralled with Hamilton over this character and a few others she portrayed.

One can draw (and thousands already have all over books, magazines and online) many physical and mental parallels (besides Jim Cameron) between Connor and Ripley, no doubt, though one must certainly note that without Ripley, Connor would not have become what she did by the second film. Hell, they even both shared romantic screen time with 'other than that where've you been' Michael Beihn:

Maybe this whole 'blog should really be about how I hate Michael Beihn.

Well, okay, Sarah actually slept with him, Ripley never got the chance but probably was heading that way if David Fincher hadn't screwed over every fan of the first two films by doing his usual 'fuck you' bird-flip to the audience in Alien3 and killing off Ripley's last chance at a moderately happy life (and then killing her -- eh, Alien3 posts are on the horizon as well).

So yeah I kinda hate Michael Beihn.

Still, Sarah Connor, for all her fire and determination, is no Ripley.

Connor is still defined by the men, robotic or otherwise, in her life. I mean, right in the middle of her one bit of choice dialogue getting ready to grind the male War Ego into the dust in Terminator 2, her son shouts 'Mom, this isn't helping', and she actually shuts up -- she's still owned by her men. She's ready to play at the End of All Things, but in the end, she's a scared survivalist.

Ripley's a survivor.


Another interesting and attractive strong female lead came along just before Ripley and Alien, in the form of the meek but determined Fran Parker in 1978's iconic horror masterpiece Dawn of the Dead.

Portrayed evenly and with great spirit by film newcomer Gaylen Ross, Fran begins her story as a tough-minded, if frightened, woman, but very soon we see she's not about to fall apart screaming and gibbering at the sight of blood, violence, chaos.

She's also pregnant.

Ah, mothers.

And after seeing her male counterparts get by and get screwed with dumb luck and testosterone, she rapidly becomes this:

... knowing she can only rely on herself. Pregnant, wanting to learn to fly the chopper, handling guns, refusing proposals, staying calm -- Fran rocks, and rocks hard. 

In her own way, Fran Parker was as revelatory and revolutionary as Ripley would be the next year, and if Dawn of the Dead had reached the same immediate global blockbuster success of Alien, there would easily be far more written on the character and her pioneering place in film history than there already is. 

Go Francine!

Of course, one always comes back around to Ripley as the Ultimate.

Sure, later heroines have hit it big in films like Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Serenity, and TV series like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and others that are always brought up when discussing strong female characters. The Web is chock full of 'em.

But Ripley remains, even after dying and cloning and all that, so very human. Her story and her heroism come from nothing as over-the-top as the rest. She's just her, doing what she could.

I do notice, though, when other, newer actors begin to assume roles and personalities that could become the next great female leads, and one in particular, I think, could not only play a younger Ripley but I think if Ridley Scott doesn't pick her to play Ripley in the much-talked-about prequel to Alien that he's working on, he's insane.

Katherine Moennig is a stunning actor, more (perhaps) masculine than Sigourney Weaver but has the same smoulder, the same fire, the same kind of lanky, comfortable way about her.

I see physical comparisons too -- the great lower eye lids and lower lip, the sculpted features, the unique power of tall beauty.

I mean, c'mon, can't you see it?

Look. There will never... EVER... be another Sigourney/Ripley continuum like we've been able to enjoy for the last 30+ years. 

I would be the LAST person to think otherwise.

But I think there's something special going on with Katherine Moennig that could capture much of what Weaver brought to the first portrayal, without looking or acting like she's doing an impression.

And I wouldn't mind seeing Moenning pick up a big ol' gun and start blasting her way through a few xeno's, either!


Yes, a few close calls.

But... I saw Ripley before them all, and my notion of what constitutes a female action hero is biasedly, annoyingly, and eternally predicated on the impact she made on my 11 year old mind and heart.

Ah, Ripley.

But for you, where would we be?



What now?

Due to unforeseen circumstances, there will be some delays in new posting until next week.

We'll mostly get back to normal soon.



On Ripley.

Sinew stretched over glass
Years punched into the leather of
Determined passion
A skin at once binding choice,
Season and

Eyes surveyed
Expose the lay of peaceful regions sought
The deep brown that is at once
Doubt and solace
Deep and shallow
Mirrors of a soul
Windows on a life unlived

Sinew and glass
Giving and taking
Driving a heart of  bleeding stone
Toward an end unsought, unwanted
But, in a final lust of
Needed logic
And unheeded knowledge,

There is no sorrow inside
The stuff of stars
And none inside
The Warrior
Now made of the very stars
Which took the Warrior to


After the 57 year long nap.

 Ripley Van Winkle.

In 1986, seven years after I first noticed that real was the most beautiful, another film came along and turned real into breathtaking.

You can't look at this and say otherwise.

Aliens is a movie about aliens, sure. But to my 18 year old eyes (and mind and body and emotions) it was first and foremost a movie about a solitary woman and her nightmarish awakening to a new and tragic world where everyone she knew and loved, including her dear daughter, are gone.

Her nightmares continue, the trauma of her new reality both filling her with fear and rendering her an emotionless, hollow Nobody. 

I understood, as best a young man can, that she was completely devastated. Imagine going through all the previous Hell aboard the Nostromo, then going to sleep, and as far as you are concerned the very next morning you find out your children and everyone else you knew are dead, and by the way you have no job or home and no one believes what happened, from your point of view, the very night before.

Yet this rare woman, now herself a kind of alien, refuses to let go of life. It may seem a dull and meaningless existence to others, but it's hers and she's not about to kill herself, not after surviving the Nostromo.

Not after losing her only child.

And this becomes, then, a film about mothers.

Yes, a bunch of bad muthas, indeed. But Aliens is truly an ode to the unstoppable, uncontrollable, eternal force of The Maternal Instinct.

And in Ellen Ripley, that instinct is so blindingly strong that she virtually glows with it by the time she (and we) find Newt in the air ducts of LV426.

Of course, what little peace they share is brief and once again Ripley has to become the Warrior, and we realize that the truest, strongest, pull-no-punches warrior, the fighter who will die for you without thinking, the champion who takes all fire before you even know it's headed your way, is absolutely MOTHER.

For all its incredible visuals, dazzling weaponry and kick-ass technology on continuous display, every meaningful moment in Aliens boils down to the same simple truths -- selfish choices will ruin you, just like Mom always told you; a mother's protection of their loved ones is instinctive and unstoppable; and Ellen Ripley is the Ultimate Mother.

She is a thousand times more alive, emotional, incandescent in this film than in the remarkable previous film. She radiates power, fear, strength, she is defined by her own wisdom, her own actions and needs, and not by her relation to the men around her. She doesn't stand out from the rest because of her gender, but because of her spirit.

And she becomes a magnificent hero just by being completely human.

In  Aliens, we finally get a full, deep treatment of a character we already loved, and find that we knew nothing about her until now.

If I had forgotten about my original epiphanic love from 1979 (and trust me, I had not), it came back in a blue fury, an added tidal wave of my own experiences informing my eyes and heart, my Muse a whirl of sweat, grey cotton and deep brown eyes. Watching this refuse-to-break woman become a hero just by doing what is right took my breath away. It does every time I view it.

What can be more beautiful?

Alien brought her to life.

Aliens seared her, nailed her, ironed her to my soul.

On, Ripley.