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Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday Movie Musings- The Walking Dead

     News over the weekend is that George Romero Passed at the ripe age of 77- He was considered by many to be the father of the American style zombie film. I Have seen Night of the Living Dead, none of the others. Before that news though, I had watched a few this week that were not his.

     Bubba Ho-Tep- not really a zombie movie, the titular character is actually a mummy. The tagline is "the King of Rock and Roll Vs. the King of the Dead".

     I think Bruce Cambell really enjoyed playing the aging Elvis, the movie is more of a character piece than a true horror film. reflective and moody, but wht I got watching it this time was that everyone seemed like they were really having a good time doing the film- a true labor of love. there is talk of a sequel, but they can't seem to decide what it would be about...
Favorite Quote:
Elvis: Ask not what your rest home can do for you. Ask what you can do for your rest home.
JFK: Hey, you're copying my best lines!
Elvis: Then let me paraphrase one of my own. Let's take care of business.
JFK: Just what are you getting at, Elvis?
Elvis: I think you know what I'm gettin' at Mr. President. We're gonna kill us a mummy.

     Shaun of the Dead... I'm going to say the first real Zombie Spoof. The movie that taught us that the most defensible place in a zombie attack is the local pub.

Image result for shaun of the dead poster

      A Bizarre fusion of romantic Comedy and zombie horror, this chronicle of a slacker-cum-hero put Simon Pegg and Nick Frost on my personal radar, and I have enjoyed the other collaborations I have seen, such as Paul and Hot Fuzz. It also introduced me the the oddball filmmaking of Edgar Wright.
Favorite Quote:
[repeated line]
Various: You've got red on you.

But good as this one is, it in no way meets the level of bizarre that is...

     Fido: A charming tale about a boy and his pet zombie...
Image result for fido film
     What can I say about this one??? the casting is brilliant, as is the 1950's-ish world where everyone who dies comes back. Billy Connolly is amazing as Fido, and there is Implied necrophilia as well as overt necrophilia...Make sure you pack your head-casket for this one.
Favorite Quote: 
Helen Robinson: I'm pregnant.
Bill Robinson: Oh, I'm sure it's nothing. You're just gaining a little weight.
Helen Robinson: [puts his hand on her belly and giggles]

Bill Robinson: I just don't think on my salary I can afford another funeral.

     To finish off this heady mix, ZombieLand

     A Zombie Film with all the attendant tropes and gore, this is also a film that comes to fruition with the survivors forming a family. Another plus on this is all of the characters evolved in some positive way through their relationships with the others. Always a pleasure to see  in any film. The neurotic becomes more daring, the cold and closed off, more trusting and warmer.
Favorite Quote:
Columbus: When Tallahassee goes Hulk on a zombie, he sets the standard for "not to be fucked with".

Of the four, I think the one that is my favorite pop-in-watch-anytime is the last one- it has more feel good moments than the others. Plus, I understand what it is to be dying for a Twinkie...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Nostalgic Friday: I Miss...

     Sundays gaming- A group of people gathered together to build worlds and fill them with adventure. One friend running GURPS, me with my D&D 3.5 edition, and a bunch of old NPC Friends. The smell of Totinos Pizza rolls, or Cheetos, The subtle hiss of Mountain dew breathing in the afternoon as it slowly lost it's fizz over melting ice. The sound of the dice. The sound of  elation of a natural 20, or the rueful chuckle of a critical fumble, and the anticipation of what shit was going to follow. The core group eventually traded dice for discourse and morphed into the amateurskeptics podcast. we still meet on Sundays but not to build worlds.

     I Miss my old NPCs. they are still here, in the back of my mind, but I find their voices are getting dimmer over time, and there is less excitement over "what would _____ do in this situation." The last time I thought about one of my old characters seriously was considering my powerful blacksmith paladin's version of the "Taken" speech(There are two scenarios here- one of them has you opening the gate, and the other has me taking down the wall, and going through everyone inside...). He came out to play for a few minutes and then life took over again. And Alex retreated back into the recesses of my mind.

     So in an effort to properly memorialize him... His Story

     Born a fraternal Twin to an elven princess and a psychopathic barbarian, Alex grew strong, and tall for a half-elf: full Six foot five. He loved Swords, loved armor and at length, fell to worshiping the blacksmith god, who named him a truesmith paladin and granted him powers...

     Powers to recover from nearly any injury- to heal others with his fiery blood- to forge not just great weapons and armor, but to cast enchantments into them with his blacksmiths song- to spot the flaws in others crafting and to strike those flaws- to heat metal by touch, and to be immune to heat himself....

     He found, and raised to Adulthood a red dragon, whom he named Napalm, and used as a mount. He adventured across worlds, bringing words of his god of progress and industry to all and bringing back many followers, until he was not merely his god's Paladin, but nearly his avatar. He found a woman, his equal in battle, matching his power with her speed and subtlety.

     In a lot of ways, he was too perfect- too much a wish-fulfillment-a lot of his progress was made not in other peoples games but in my own, as I told his tale as a background character, and his legend grew.

     I like to think that he's still out there somewhere, happy, adventuring, fighting, crafting new and better blades and armor among the worlds. Perhaps someday I will dredge him up again and see where he's been. But for now, Alexander Kraneth, I miss you;.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Monday Movie Musings

     A new feature here at the hideaway, not necessarily full reviews, just thoughts on what I am watching.

Image result for spiderman homecoming

     Spider-man Homecoming was excellent- wonderful cast, not a change I would make. Michael Keaton makes the Vulture a complex and human villain, sort of an Anti-Tony Stark- a family man, forced onto the wrong side of the law by circumstances, yet with an honor code of his own.

     Peter looks like...acts like...has the concerns of...a High school student- He has to worry about attending and passing his classes- and he is casually smart. He doesn't have to make a big deal out of having the answers, he just knows them.

     His friends, family, people he knows in the neighborhood... all form a very gentle tapestry of film, rather than the hard-edged Spider-man films we have had before. Tom Holland is engaging, and actually knows how to smile! I'm hard pressed to say whether this one or Wonder Woman was actually better, because it's super-close.

Image result for A.I. film
     Other Stuff- Discussions with the Amateur Skeptics on the podcast got me thinking about the movie A.I. by Spielberg. I wasn't a huge fan of the film when I saw it, and watching it again over the weekend, I still found it disquieting...The thoughts it left me with are:

  • How much is one more good day with someone you love worth to you?
  • You are responsible for what you tame. I was incredibly upset at the scene where Monica abandons David and Teddy in the woods-Sharp echoes of abandoning a no-longer-loved pet, even though she did it so he would not be destroyed. She was selfish to imprint him in the first place if she was unsure. 
  • The Flesh Fair was humanity at it's worst, proving itself "superior" by barbarically killing what is copying it. The fact that they couldn't kill a child-shaped mecha does not forgive them. 
AI is not supposed to be a comfortable movie- it's not supposed to make you feel good. it's supposed to ask questions there are no answers to. All I know is it makes me want to go hold my birds and never let go. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

American Heroes.

     I thought long and hard about what to write about this fourth of July. America seems like it's gone a little crazy. People are intense about things in ways they haven't been in a long time. People are going crazy and going on shooting sprees.

     I think it comes down to Tribes.

     Hundreds of years ago, America was occupied by roaming, competing tribes, who would vie for territory, resources, food, honor. We haven't changed much in the last few hundred years, either. And it's no surprise! Tribes are survival- a group of like-minded-folks, banded together against those crazy bastards who don't think like us, don't act like us and don't look like us. You can't trust those others. They are Up to No Good.

     East coast, West coast...Conservative, Liberal...Christian, Muslim...Yankee, Southerner...Texas, Everybody else. Gun advocates, Gun Control advocates. Religion in schools Vs. separation of church from state. Bayformers fans Vs. Geewunners. Star Wars Vs. Star Trek. DC Vs. Marvel. Comics Vs. Movies. The "Biased Liberal Media" vs. the "Fear and Balanced Conservative Media". Black Vs. White.

     All of them tense and ready to fight right now.

     Lots of folks blame 45, Donald J. Trump for this. "He's making people more racist/sexist...etc." Trumps has said he's not racist...(secret fact! Any statement starting with the words "I'm not a racist..." is probably going to end up racist.) It shouldn't matter whether Trump is racist, sexist, a genius or a buffoon. If anything, I think he's just lancing a boil that's been festering. In any case, using the sitting president's behavior as an excuse for your own poor behavior is a huge cop-out. Just like saying "Make America Great Again" is a poor excuse for "let's go back to when racial intolerance and sexism were the order of the day, take the vote away from Women, and give old white guys back the power and prestige they once had". We are better than that. We are smarter. We have tools that can blur the lines between us, yet sadly, we often use them to draw the lines in deeper. We need to use those tools to understand one another better and draw closer, not more divided.

     We are, all of us, racist, sexist, spoiled and self-centered. When we rise up from that, step out of our little tribes and remember that we belong to a big, welcoming tribe called Americans, that is the moment we are the american heroes. When we do things for the good of many, rather than to fill our pockets or glorify ourselves, that is the moment.

     Whatever else you are doing, be an american hero today. Look not at the stories that drag us down but instead at the stories that make us better, that fulfill the promise we were made 241 years ago, of liberty and justice for all. Be that story.