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I’m sitting here, streaming video from CBS, watching the hills burn around Canyon Country, California (aka, RedFence Central).

One friend spent the day safely in Pasadena. Another left with his girlfriend after we packed his car with clothes, food, computers, and of course all the important components of RedFence Magazine.

The Sheriff’s Department is cruising the streets, announcing voluntary evacuation. But just five blocks away, where the fires are lighting the sky and showering the house with ash, they have ordered mandatory evacuation.

Staff writer Ruth Arnell’s old apartment is likely gone, or at least damaged.

I’m staying until they order me out. The crass is over-watered and I’m standing ready with the hose in case the sparks get too close. I don’t want to leave in case the neighborhood kids decide to go shopping (the crime in this area has been up of late, not very encouraging in a time of emergency).

But don’t worry, the car is loaded and ready to go.

It’s an odd experience, walking through your home and evaluating what is most important. With a good quarter mile of homes between me and the flames there was no reason to panic, so I had time to be selective. Clothes and computers were first into the trunk. Then backpack with toiletries and my secret stash of cash. Then extra food.

Then, various attributes of RedFence, including a fine piece or art my Dave Veloz, two hundred-year-old shingles which Titus’s mom painted with the RedFence logos, and the “genius box” which holds all of our daydreams and pipe dreams.

I packed no books. I packed no films. This seemed the right thing to do, but the longer I think about it the more it seems . . . odd. Everything we strive to do here at RedFence, all of the films we make and stories we write, even the ethos we cling to as artists, are the first things be abandoned in an emergency.

This seems wrong somehow. But it is also, indisputably, the correct thing to do. I guess art is the only thing you can always take with you, because you don’t carry it with your hands. And it’s also the only thing that can always come back, sometimes stronger than before.
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Come check out a new short film, haunted house story, and review of 30 Days of Night, all in time for Halloween!

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Hello Friends!

We have two new items up on RedFence and we've revamped our art section. Check it out!

New Photo Essay by Jonathan Vince

New Fencepost by Yours Truly
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Everyone needs a good laugh, except while they’re lifting weights. Then it’s fairly dangerous, especially when you break into a fit of suppressed laughter while you are raising 120lbs over your chest.

To avoid such a scenario, do not watch Superbad the night before you work out. The latest endeavor from Apatow Productions (the team that brought The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and the under appreciated television series Freaks and Geeks) belongs to a new breed of comedy. It mixes outlandishly crass language and scenarios with a sweet and gentle message of friendship, responsibility and the most tenuous of all subject matter, platonic man love. At its heart, Superbad is an endearing love note to high school and that last, glorious summer before college.

Mixing high craftsmanship with brash comedy seems a bit like sugar coating medicine. The secret code of the filmmakers seems to be, “make em learn, but make em like it.” The result is pure, defiled magic. Boob jokes and penis jokes far outnumber the precision tuned character humor, but it is the detailed performances of Jonah Hill and Michael Cera the raise the film above the cinematic drudge of The Farrely Brothers. This film cares. Vulgar characters have a depth and sorrow that keeps them from being two dimensional, and this allows the audience to laugh along with them rather than at them.

In the end, through all the drinking and shooting, drunken assaults, breast punching, and Period blood stains (yes, you read that correctly) the film follows a thematic thread of growth and maturity. The two lead characters, along with a rag-tag team of brilliant side characters, learn how to be (or not be) Men, and find the consequences of either path.

While Superbad represents the cutting edge of comedy, splitting the sides of teenage boys while fulfilling the intellectual needs of film critics, Mr. Bean’s Holiday represents the archaic art of slapstick, situational comedy.

Rowan Atkinson stars as the innocently malevolent Mr. Bean, the extracted essence of The Three Stooges, The Keystone Cops, and Seinfeld’s Kramer. Practically mute and mildly retarded, it’s a wonder the Mr. Bean series has survived this long in the modern world, it seems that by now a conservative or liberal sub-group would be offended by his antics. Still, despite the ultimate failure of Mr. Bean’s Holiday to generate any substantial laughter, it’s nice to watch a genius at work. The film does not fail because of Rowan Atkinson’s brilliant physical comedy. It fails because of the medium.

While the British television show deserves worship in the upper pantheon of Farce, the Mr. Bean movies lose the raw, stage-like quality of the show. On the small screen, Mr. Bean’s gyrations and gross-out predicaments leave room for the audience’s imagination. When he blows his nose into a coat pocket, then tips the stretched fabric from side to side, it takes the viewers a few moments to piece together the predicament, and shudder with laughter as they imagine the slippery mucus teetering on the edge of the cloth. Meanwhile, the film takes the opposite approach, offering the audience the extreme close up of slippery raw oysters oozing around the pockets of a folded table cloth, ultimately landing in the purse of a female patron in a swanky French restaurant.

This kind of humor will still extract laughter from the kids, but will leave the young at heart tight lipped and stoic. In the end, Mr. Bean’s Holiday has a modicum of charm and mildly clever set-ups. The cameo of Willem Dafoe as a self absorbed actor at the Cannes Film festival is particularly smile inducing. But over all, the film fails to capture the originality of the television series, which is worth purchasing on Amazon.com.

Reigning supreme over the other comedies currently at theaters, is the smart, snappy, and hilarious The Simpsons Movie. After 18 years on the air, The Simpsons has proven itself to be one of the best-written shows in history. It is continuously funny and, despite a few slumps in its long career, is still original and heartfelt.

Needless to say, expectations for the film were higher than the liberal geeks who wrote the script. And like a champion in its prime, The Simpsons Movie is more than a valiant effort, it represents some of the best work of the series. Technically it is little more than a two hour episode. Some of the animation is grander, but it does not lean on big screen gimmicks (ie, the Simpson family does not find a magic book that brings them into the real world so we can see John Goodman do his best imitation of Homer).

The plot is standard: Homer screws up and endangers Springfield. But unlike the television show, Marge is not ready to forgive him, the problem is not easily solved, and there is a real sense that characters might leave, die, or be changed forever. This is not unheard of in the Simpson’s universe. A few years back, the writers killed off Ned Flander’s wife, leaving him a single father . . . a scenario they have not changed and still mine for comedic gold. But it’s amazing that, after 18 years of relatively little change, a Simpsons fan like myself can still wonder, “Is Homer going to die? No. No way . . . oh man I hope not.”

Then again, its those same 18 years of viewership that create such a strong bond between the audience and the characters. We’ve all invested so much good time in the Simpson family that, deep down, a part of us thinks of them as real.

Unlike some other cartoons, The Simpsons Movie does not sacrifice its characters and story for edgy satire; it depends on the tenets of good storytelling and a sharp wit to make it the finest comedy in recent memory.

Current Location: JLH - Southern California
Current Mood: sleepy sleepy
Current Music: The White Stripes - When I Hear My Name

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Hi All,

Not only is Jack London Night this Sunday, but you can also check out this cool video about it . . . possibly starring you!

Current Location: JLH - Southern California
Current Mood: hungry hungry
Current Music: My Chemical Romance

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From guest writer, James Roland

I’ve been riding a motorcycle for five months and I still treat it like a car. I can be cruising along a winding mountain road and find myself fumbling for a seat belt. I still reach instinctively for my radio dial, like a civil war soldier trying to scratch his phantom leg. And as if this isn’t disconcerting enough, I have developed a bad habit of zoning out on familiar routes, the worst of which found me “waking up” in Encino at 1am when I should have been in north Sherman Oaks. After studying the lunar cycle and every 187 dispatch on the police scanner, I ruled out myself as possible werewolf. But the evidence still begged the question, how is it that a person can have such a hard time letting go of old habits, that they can zone out, even lose time, while cruising unprotected, 40mph, three feet above the asphalt?

That’s one for the ages. Or, for the 5 to 28 seconds you have to chat with another motorcyclist at a stop light.

See, there is another vestigial habit I have left over from the pre-historic days of car travel. Talking. And not just weather chatting, no, I’m talking deep, on the fly, brain rattling philosophy discussions that rise from the horizon like a summer squall and end with ruined friendships or deep sighs of intellectual contentment.

The trick is, even the ridiculous time restriction imposed on these thoughts in the time it takes for two people to drive to the airport or a friend’s party in Silverlake are nothing compared to the few precious moments two motorcycle riders have during a ride.

But after a little practice, you learn to concentrate your ideas into a kind of intellectual short hand, squeezing the works of great thinkers into bite sized portions. This may seem sacrilegious, unimportant, or pathetic. But to a select few, it’s our only chance to let our inner geeks seep out through our black leather and tinted helmets.

If this all seems too theoretical, just read the following transcripts.

Actually, transcripts might be a misnomer. Please read a fictionalized account of what I remember happening a few months ago.

Titus and I are cruising down San Fernando Road after another
2’oclock Critics session. We approach a stop light.

James (pulling to a stop and flipping up his visor): “So, I read an
interesting interview with Alan Moore today.”

Titus: “Oh? That’s – ”

The light changes and we take off, whipping around a soft turn beneath an overpass, pulling up sharply to another intersection.

Titus: ” – pretty cool.”

James: “Yeah it was about his latest work, a graphic novel called
The Lost Girls. It’s his attempt to mix pornography and art.”

Green. We take off again, turning more directly north and feeling the desert wind start sucking the warmth out of the air. Another light.

Titus: “That’s not possible.”

James: “Mixing Porn and Art? Yeah, they both have different goals.”

Titus: “Yeah. And it’s just stupid and gross.”

James: “Agreed. What get me is – ”


Oops. We take off, this time for long stretches between rock hills. A few rolling stops, nothing useful to the conversation. Finally, a major intersection with tediously long waits between red and green.

James: ” – you can have art that’s erotic, and erotica that has artistic values, but to combine the core values of each is a contradiction.”

Titus: “Yeah. One is made to arouse emotion and thought, the other is made to arouse . . . .”

James: “Enough said.”

Titus: “Dude, how’s your bike?”

James: “Got the exhaust pipe changed, gotta do the oil tomorrow.”

Titus: “Cool.”

So there you have it. Try it out for yourself. I recommend some Plato or Ayn Rand. Maybe start up a motorcycle book club. And your maintenance manual doesn’t count.

Current Location: Steilacoom, WA
Current Mood: hopeful and hungry
Current Music: My Chemical Romance

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by Titus Daniel Gee

I have not read your emails, nor anyone’s these past few days.
Forgive me.
As I was away on the weekend of June 20, I have placed myself on strict media blackout (not an easy task when one works in a newsroom) until I may finish the final volume in Ms. Rowlings epic tale. It has become something of a contest—to reach the end before a spoiler can invade my consciousness and steal my opportunity for pure discovery.

I reached page 608 during my lunch break, today, on which I found the chapter title “The Battle of Hogwarts” and closed the book. As I turned back toward my desk I felt a sudden sinking in my gut. I had begun to quail at the thought of my adventure ending. The margin of pages that now separates me from the ending has now grown so slim that I cannot help but realize that it is fast approaching.

I do not worry how it will end, rather it simply struck me that it will end. However the last grand battle may turn out, I will reach the final page and—whether satisfied or miffed—I will be forced to stop because there will be no more.

You must understand, as a storyteller I am a great advocate of endings. The end is the most important part of any tale and far harder to pull off effectively than a beginning. In the finale a story finds its paramount meaning and thus its highest being. In the ending it either succeeds or fails. The end is the whole point. Such endless mediums as television and comic books often suffer terribly from the refusal to find an ending. They wander on and on like Jack with his Lantern of Nearly Headless Nick bemoaning his own cowardice but unable to pass on.

I BELIEVE in endings.

And yet I understand what Stephen King calls the desire to bring Frodo back from the Grey Havens.

I fear I am an immersive reader, and whenever I reach the end of a truly epic tale, one that I have lived with for weeks or months or years (as with young Mr. Potter) I cannot help but feel the pang of loss that comes with it. The companions of my imagination no longer will grow older with me, nor tell me the further adventures of their lives. They have ended and though I may go back and read the story through again (something I rarely do) it will never move any further. However the heroes of Hogwarts may finish their great battle, it will be finished.

I felt this way when Garion finally took his seat at Riva and again when Errand found his place among the seven. I felt it, yes, when Sam returned from the docks to his cottage and Rosie’s warm embrace. It is the final page of Whinny the Pooh, when Christopher Robin takes his leave. It is the reason that I never read one book at a time—I need the others to console me. The fact that I feel it now is evidence that, whatever her weaknesses or rough edges, Rowling has thus far succeeded in her great undertaking. It seems I’ve fallen in love with her characters.

Some part of me grins scorn at the idea of feeling attached to “people” that do not actually exist, and yet this is,the ephemeral spark that drew me to writing in the first place, above all other forms of expression. I actually feel genuine affection for nonexistent characters, and another part of me prepares to miss them when they have gone.

This is true magic if ever I have encountered it.

So I understand the impulse that keeps so many epic writers from ending their stories, that draws them back again and again to the world they have created, that keeps the fans buying $25 hardbacks with no hope of finding out how it all turns out in the end.

And yet the latent tragedy of the final cover of the final book provides such power to the story. Its finality gives the story weight and so creates a part of the magic that can be captured no other way.

So now I return to page 608 to dance with my imaginary friends this final time. I think I shall read it slowly, consoling myself with the thought that Messrs. Grint and Radcliffe and Ms. Watson have yet to recreate these moments in the medium of film and so there remains to me just a little more discovery beyond this final cover . . .

Current Location: JLH - Southern California
Current Mood: sleepy sleepy
Current Music: Green Day - American Idiot

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