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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Coming to Grips with Dinosaur Kills

     One thing has long bothered me about the Lost World:Jurassic Park, and that is the cruel and terrible death of Eddie Carr

     In a previous post, I talked about the first trilogy, and when watching I googled the following: "why did Eddie Carr Die" which led me to this article.

     And I realized something really important.

     There were deaths in every movie in this franchise that I consider unjust. Just as there were many left alive we would prefer dead. For every Dennis Nedry or Dieter Stark, there is a Ray Arnold, or an Eddie Carr- Someone just trying to do the right thing. For That matter, there is Roland Tembo- a villain, or perhaps an anti-hero, but a surviving antagonist

     Jurassic Park as a franchise encompasses Man Vs Nature and Man Vs Science at the same time. John Hammond as a Frankensteinian character is not destroyed directly by his creation, and he never understands why it went wrong(after all, they spared no expense) He is broken by it, or at least I get the impression he is, but never to the point of giving up his dream. The characters who prosper and survive are the ones who either innately respect the animals they are dealing with, or come to respect them. The Dinos don't care if you are a hero, or a villain, they only care if you are tasty and dumb enough to get eaten. Actually... they don't even care about that.

     The point here I guess, and the theme is Charles Darwin at his most impersonal. Whether you are the security guy who is waiting for just this sort of incident for product testing, or the personal assistant unlucky enough to be in charge of two clever kids T-Rex doesn't care- Raptors could give a rat's ass, and Mosasaurus thinks you are just part of the show.

     The Dinos are not here to be your personal furies, They are here to be Dinosaurs- Smart, strong, fast predators. Are you on the menu?

Some other perspectives...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge: First Quarter

     I have a surprisingly vivid memory of this- I excelled at Omega Race and Tempest, was OK at Space Invaders, sucked ass at Asteroids, and played Star Castle whenever I could find it.

     But my earliest memory of dropping a quarter into a game was Space Wars at the Aurora Mall Three cinema

     First, on the theater, this was not the infamous Aurora Mall theater where the Dark Knight Rises shooting took place in 2012.  This was inside the mall, a Mall which has undergone more face-lifts than the proverbial lovechild of Joan Rivers and Michael Jackson (Too Soon?). and now even a shopping mall is an endangered species. Back then, we never even imagined someone shooting up a theater, the biggest fear we had was older kids bullying us.

     But I feel I have digressed. we found this gem(myself and whoever I was with.that I don't recall- or the movie I was seeing) this two-player PVP miracle of science. I remember that you could set the conditions for the battlefield, gravity on, gravity off, sides closed, sides open, black hole...The ships could be damaged without being destroyed, but would suffer in performance as well. I had forgotten that it was a timed amount of play, but I recalled that upon reading the Wiki article I found. One of the ships looked like a star destroyer(wedge shaped) while the other resembled the movie Enterprise, with the engine pods swept back

     I remember being pretty good at it. I liked to pick the other ship apart, rather than destroying it outright. I don't remember how many quarters I dropped into it, just that it was never enough, for me. Then one day there was a new game at the theater, and Space Wars disappeared from my life except for memory and occasional sightings at older private arcades.

     I mentioned Omega Race, and I recall best playing that at a restaurant called the Yum yum tree- it was like a buffet and a food court in one. you could taste foods there you had never even heard of. For me, a kid whose most exotic meal was what Mom called Mock Sukiyaki(and was pepper steak over minute rice in reality) it was amazing. With this came the opportunity to destroy the training drones in Omega Race. there was a trick to it. A nasty, dirty yellow, gutless sonnovabitchin trick. You went to one side of the square, and took a couple of shots. while the drones are coming up that side, you go down the other and blow merry hell out of them from behind.

    Anyway, I think this is my stack of quarters spent on nostalgia. I will let someone else get on the machine now. Nowadays the only game I play in the arcade is "Laundry!" and I usually win.

Other Players:

Saturday, August 27, 2016

My Father

     I'm not going to go into this with some kind of nolanesque or shyamalanian twist- my Father is alive, just not well at the moment. He took a bad fall, broke four ribs, punctured his lung slightly. He is in a daunting amount of pain, and in ICU.

     For that reason foremost, I want things around me that remind me of him, to keep him close to me when I am not able to be at the hospital.

    Funny thing- Tango knows hospital. I told him we were going to the hospital, and his expression got really dark. "you are going to be going for days again" kind of dark, so I hastened to reassure him.

     My dad is 90(or will be in a month) and diabetic, has had and gone into remission from lung cancer. But I only remember him sick twice. My High school graduation(he had a bleeding ulcer that had to be operated on) and now. Don't get me wrong- he is not unbreakable- just strong and tough. Steady. Took care of his family- Still does.

     I went over to the parents house on Sunday, and knew something was awry- the car was covered, meaning no church for them, and lights were on that aren't usually left on. no one knew anything until my mom called me in the afternoon.

     It shakes you, to have a pillar knocked over, and see this strong man in a hospital bed.

     So I have Hailstorm, that he picked out for me for Christmas a few years back. The year he wanted all of his boys to have toys to play with.

     I have Hubcap, that I bought him his own of.

     And I am reading my favorite book of the ones he loaned me, that I later bought my own copy of.

     And I am doing my job, and taking care of my family, like he taught. My fathers 90th birthday is next month- there is said to be barbecue and cake in the offing. More on that next month.

     Update- I started this on Tuesday, and since then my father was moved from ICU to a regular room, and then to a rehab center for physical therapy and evaluation. He tends to heal pretty fast. Now he is mostly bored and disgusted at having to call the nurses when he wants to get up. Also, apparently telling his Nurse that you think a "Floor patient" is what happens when a patient falls out of bed is grounds for being told I tell "Dad jokes"

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge: Olympic Medal Winner

If _____ was an Olympic sport, I’d have a gold medal around my neck.

     This is a tricky one. What am I better at than anyone else? What is that one talent that there oughtta be an Olympic event for? 

     Enter the Media Pentathalon:
  • Genre-Bingeing
  • Flawed Gem Polishing
  • Verbal trailering
  • Media finding
  • Connection-hunting
     This is an event tailor made for me, and those who come after me-Come forth all ye Cheetos-dusted Olympians and try yourselves against the king of media events!

Anyone can go season by season- the truly gifted can binge a genre- or even just go movie to movie based on an actor, or even a gut feeling. If it starts out August, and you look up from the screen and find it's October, you may have what it takes. 

Flawed gem Polishing:
Take a movie that nearly everyone hates, and find it's silver lining. Find the facets, and find the shine. I have been accused on more than one occasion of having a low threshhold of entertianment. It is at once my gift, my curse, and my responsibility. I liked Dawn of Justice. I liked John Carter. I Liked Battleship and Gods of Egypt...

Verbal Trailering:
Talk to people, enchant them with the sound of your enthusiasm. Get them to see the movie, with a measure of your enthusiasm. No spoilers please, points will be deducted. 

Media Finding: 
Whether you buy a series of action figures or just that one odd bit of memorabilia that symbolizes the movie or show to you, that item to have and hold is your talisman, your tactile representation of that work of fiction-display it proudly

Connection Hunting:
Possibly the most grueling challenge of the five, to connect the movie you just saw to other things you have seen- examples are : the Lorax and Wall-E; Star Wars original trilogy with Wanted; Transformers and Spider-man

Come Join me on the Podium, with your Bronze and Silver, or give me a good argument for not getting the gold...

Other Olympic Champions

Sunday, August 21, 2016


     So I saw the movie The Lorax yesterday- I realize this is a little late to be a legitimate review so it isn't.

     I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable, hitting all the right feels, and all the right funnies. the message is as poignant as the message of the original book, although I think very few today would doubt the value of trees. in 1972 when the original book was published we were far less aware of our impact on the environment, and we thought that the Earth would just keep taking care of us forever. We know a little different now.

     The movie expands the books story, giving depth and flesh to it's somewhat one-dimensional characters. The voice casting is ecellent, and it is well acted, well animated. the forest creatures sounded like and behaved somewhat like "minions", and it was by intention, but that was a little jarring.

     The ride of the protagonist, Ted, through the wasted landscape to meet the Once-ler for the first time is spooky and disturbing. I had Sid sitting with me, and he got really worried watching it, calling for Mom. His journey actually echoes the Hero's journey, and in the end he is transformed from a boy trying to impress a girl to a man who willingly faces down the forces that control his city for his own beliefs.

     The books somewhat ambiguous ending becomes a a tale of redemption and forgiveness. with the Once-ler breaking his isolation, walking in the sun and caring for young trees. In the end, he and the Lorax are reconciled, and the animals return.

     The ending reminds me somewhat of Wall-E, and they share many a common theme.

     My rating, I would say see this one. I picked it up for $5 in the Wal-mart cheap DVD bin, and I would say it was an excellent purchase.

And if you don't understand the title of this post... Go see it, or read the book.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Patchwork Quilt

This started off to be a musing about some music, ended up being some thoughts about how we wind up carrying pieces of other people with us for life.

     We collide against other people, like cars in traffic, and leave tastes and behaviors like traded paint. My first serious girlfriend, who became my first wife left me with a love of Rush, a daughter, and some reinforced and fortified insecurities. Sam imbued upon me the love of birds, odd videos, and a better understanding of myself, good, bad and ugly.

     What brought this up was that I found myself listening to Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Tarkus, followed by Triumvirat, Spartacus. The same person (who I decline to identify here) introduced me to both of those, and in fact guided me to the Who, comic books, and a lot of my other lifelong loves.

     I'm not really close with that person any more, we are both self absorbed in incompatible ways, but the pieces he left behind on me, like a paintscrape on my soul, I wouldn't trade for all the buffing Maaco could do. For the pieces left behind, thanks.

     Thanks for every little collision, fellow travelers, every one of you. Good dents and bad, you helped to form my character.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pop Culture League Assignment: Shelfie

     Excerpt from "The Terrible Living Shelves of Mr Smith"

First off, let me say how excited I am that

Has become:

     I really missed these challenges, and am glad to see them back. I also missed seeing the fascinating posts every week- 

     But on to the "Living" Shelves
    I consider my shelves to be living, because they get messed with. A lot. Things get moved, reposed, transformed, replaced, added to. Also, because my roommate is a mild-mannered maniac, they occasionally get unusual things added or changed. It is, to me a living work of art, a labor of love and my favorite form of therapy. I have chosen my favorites here

A thrift store find, in it's protective styrofoam

The Parrot statue is an endangered Puerto Rican Amazon- led me to look up info on them
Toads are for luck. 

My Musashi Bamboo Katana, my Cold Steel Katana, and my grandfathers straight razor
My Paul Chen Zatoichi is on the top rack, and another of the same is on the standing rack to the side

the cold steel piece came from a pawn shop- $60
     But you came here for the toys, not the Objet's d'Art- oh the swords are functional, and live. They are the art of pure functionality, innovations in human tools. Grand-dads razor... is probably still shavable, but I don't shave, I just mow. 

Masterpiece Collector Coins and challenge coins

Transformers that kind of don't fit other shelves, but I can't put away
in the back, it looks like Sam put Sumannus in timeout, because he is facing the wall

Classics Shelf Right

Classics Shelf Left

Dinobots Plus, Wheeljack, Arcee, and Wheelie

More Dinobots and Combiners

Masterpiece Right

Masterpiece Left

Movie Optimus Primes...or would that be Optimi Prime?

Hot Wheels and Pop Culture Cars
And of course nothing about me would truly be complete without my best buddies- 

Cappy(on his shelf, microseconds past an amazing threat display at the camera, and I did not have it in video mode)

And Tango, my baby and closest confidant, He is as bad-ass as a bird can get. He is on my toy shelves every time my back is turned, trying to get his talons on that perfect cybertronian weapon that will let him wreck civilization and descend us all into barbarism and the rule of the strongest beak. 

Other posts of the league:

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Forgotten Autobot

     Of the Autobot Windbreaker, Optimus Prime has said this

     " I Don't wish to stand behind him, but I proudly fight beside him"

Capable of releasing clouds of noxious burnt sienna smoke in his Drive-By attack, Windbreaker can clear a battlefield of both friend and foe in no time at all. In fact, the very beep of his horn can panic many Decepticons.

His jet propulsion can make him reach great speeds, even to the point of breaking the sound barrier, while his commando skills make him Silent, but deadly. Nicknamed "Brown Thunder" by his closest friends, He can burn rubber, drop bombs, and use his flame throwers with the best of them.

     Sadly, he never made it to earth, as the confines of the Ark did not fit his disposition. When the Ark left Cybertron, he formed a Conjunx Endura relationship with a retired Decepticon Seeker named Cropduster. They settled out on the Sea of Rust where no one would complain.

Motto: If you Smelt, it, I dealt it.

and yes, I am a bad, bad man

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Keaton V Bale: Dawn of Dramatis Personae

       From Part 1 and Part 2

  Misleading, I know- I am not restricting myself to those two but actually touching all the various important supporting characters of all three of DCs flagship heroes. Some Portrayals shine, some tarnish, but some are a product of the media they are in. Oh, and if I don't mention an actor, that means I rate the performance as Meh. if you disagree, please remember that I RUINED YOUR CHILDHOOD!!!!

Superman: I have to rate him on both Kal El and Clark, because a good performance is based upon both

  1. I have to give Tom Welling my top personal Marks for his nuanced Clark and Kal El over 10 years
  2. Henry Cavill
  3. Christopher Reeve
  4. Brandon Routh
Lex Luthor:
  1. Michael Rosenbaum(Smallville) for giving us the good Lex, the bad Lex, and the evolution of a monster
  2. Kevin Spacey
  3. Gene Hackman
John and Martha Kent:
  1. John Schneider and Annette O'Toole
  2. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane
Lois Lane: 
  1. Erica Durance
  2. Margot Kidder
  3. Amy Adams
Perry White:
  1. Lawrence Fishburne
  2. Michael McKean
Batman- Same rules as Above- because A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy's shoulders to let him know that the world hadn't ended. Sorry- Meant Anyone can be Batman in the Batsuit 
  1. Christian Bale
  2. Ben Affleck
  3. Michael Keaton
  4. George Clooney
  5. Adam West
  6. Val Kilmer
Alfred Pennyworth:
  1. Michael Caine, Jeremy Irons, Sean Pertwee
  2. Everyone else
The Joker:
  1. Heath Ledger
  2. Mark Hamill(yep, a rules change)
  3. Jack Nicholson
  4. Cesar Romero
The Riddler:
  1. Cory Michael Smith
  2. Frank Gorshin
  3. Jim Carrey (hammed it up way too much, but he looked like he was having a good time)
  1. Robin Lord Taylor
  2. Burgess Meredith(pretty sure without Burgess on TV, Penguin would not even be a significant rogue in Batmans gallery)
  3. Danny DeVito
  1. Julie Newmar
  2. Anne Hathaway
  3. Michelle Pfeiffer
  1. Tommy Lee Jones(despite the movie he was in)
  2. Aaron Eckhart
Wonder Woman:
  1. Gal Gadot
  2. Lynda Carter(Sorry Lynda)
Steve Trevor
  1. Chris Pine(I know, just based on the TRAILER!)
  2. Lyle Waggoner

Friday, August 5, 2016

Trinity Two- The Dark Post Rises

Continued from Part 1  

      Please remember these are my opinions, and if you don't like them you are free to rant on Facebook that I ruined your childhood- in fact... I encourage you to.

     Last time I hit upon the more flawed visions of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman- this time I am going to chat about stuff getting better,, and approaching perfection.

     Now I firmly believe in my Spark that DC isn't doing it as good as Marvel- not yet, but they are getting better and coming up fast.

     Smallville- ten seasons from Superboy to Superman. Not as much action series as night-time soap, at times, but they managed to put a very human face on our favorite kryptonian visitor. It recognized that Superman had a mythology that was deep, and told the stories in a new way- not of a god pretending to be a man, but god raised as a man, and struggling with the dilemma of what his powers could do, and what they should not. It even manages to bring out a sort of Proto-Justice League and show us the Justice Society of a bygone era

     Batman Begins- This is the High Point- a gritty, real world Batman that looks at how Bruce Wayne could actually become the Dark Knight Detective. It crossed the border from a good superhero film(FCBNO*) to actually being a good film- A Masterpiece of Cinema in my opinion.

     The Dark Knight- This one may actually have surpassed it's predecessor, showing the fall and the long dark night of the soul of the heros journey. Batman ends the film as outcast in order to save the reputation and works of a good man who fell to madness.

     The Dark Knight Rises - I personally don't think this one is as strong as the two before it but it still solid as hell. My biggest Criticism of this is that it sandboxes the character into a world where they can do no more with him. He has a beginning, a middle, and in the Dark Knight Rises, he has an end- whether you believe he died in a blast, and Alfred's viewing of him later is but an old man's fantasy, or that he survived and retired happy with Selena Kyle, this is the end of  Batman. And as we know, Heroes never die, they just get rebooted.

     Gotham- What Smallville did for Clark Kent, Gotham does for...James Gordon...? That being said, it takes an interesting look at the roots of the characters around Bruce Wayne. Young master Bruce is the least interesting person on the show, with the various budding psychopaths who will become his nemeses shining out.

     Man Of Steel - This Film took some flack- a lot of folks didn't like the long fight scenes, and there was criticism of Superman killing Zod at the end. I love this film. It makes an amazing reboot to the origin, manages to be epic and human at the same time. And it does a wonderful job of setting the stage for

     Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice- This film has detractors- I am not one of them. I liked this movie when i saw it on the big screen, I liked it when I watched it again on the DVD screen. Things this film definitely did right- For the first time, we see Batman fight like a horrific ballet of violence-every move leading to the next, every move a movement in a greater symphony. We see Batman as a planner and a setter of contingencies. His takedown of Superman is believeable.

     Oh, and Wonder Woman. I could watch Gal Gadot all day. Feminine and lethal all at once

     Honrable Mentions in DC Cinema- Green Lantern- I liked it, would not mind seeing a sequel, even tho I know that will never happen.
     Watchmen- What can I say about this? Alan Moore hated it, but Alan Moore hates everything. This is a pretty faithful adaptation of the graphic novel. and as we saw above with Dawn of Justice, Zack Snyder knows how Superheroes should look when they fight.
     Arrow- A gritty look into the character of Green Arrow. It feels like they wanted to make Batman and got Oliver Queen instead, but it gave us...
     The Flash- Which is SUPERB and
     Legends of Tomorrow- which puts Brandon Routh in a smaller set of Tights than Superman's

     Oh- and Supergirl- The hours of the day I am not watching Gal Gadot, I could easily watch Melissa Benoist. She's perfect.

*For Comic Book Nerds Only

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Trinity

     I picked up Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice the week it was released. I rewatched Man of Steel, then dove into the launch of DC's combined Cinema universe.

     Two things- I saw it in the theater, and liked it. As is, no extended edition. Second, and more importantly, I come not to bury Caesar, but to praise him. I liked this on the big screen, liked it better on DVD.

     It has flaws. DC/Warner seems to know what to do with it's television shows far more than the movies. They are however, slowly catching up with Marvel/Disney in making the movies epic, and meaningful, not Campy.

     I have a lot of nostalgia for the old stuff, and I ended up watching the earlier movies as well. When I say nostalgia, however, don't mistake it for "the old stuff was better!!!" or the ever popular "They ruined my childhood!!!!!"

I simply mean:
  1. a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
     So I am going to touch upon the best and the worst of all of the cinematic efforts that I have seen on Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, DC's flagship trinity of heroes. This is in no way intended to be a comprehensive treatise on the film and TV media of these characters, only a collection of thoughts on the ones I know well.  It's also only right to point out that Sam (my roommate/ex-wife/current Cato to Tango's Clouseau) made a really good point- without these movies, as bad or as painful as they are, we wouldn't have the good ones. Someone had to see the campy stuff and say..."well I would do..."

     For every Successful explorer, there is a floating pith helmet marking where the guy before him stepped in quicksand...

     So without further digression

     Batman the movie- Best way to describe it...there is a bat-device for everything. A campy movie to amp up a campy TV series.

     Wonder Woman- Another campy take on a hero(ine), Lynda Carter still looks fantastic in her satin tights, fighting for our rights and the old red white and blue.

     Superman -When I was a Kid this was AMAZING but now you can see it is very dated. Christopher Reeve makes a great square-jawed and righteous Superman, and he carries off lines that should come across ironic or snide without a single smirk.

     Superman II -This one is painful to watch. I have never seen the Donner Cut, probably should. But the Kryptonian Amnesia kiss is a low point in convenient plot devices. As is tearing off your chest emblem and turning it into flypaper.

     Batman- This was a good film and the first real attempt to make a serious superhero movie- It was Marred by it's sequels like the bad side of Harvey's coin

     Batman Returns- this one is a little surreal and oddball for my tastes. Of particular weirdness is the Penguin's funeral.

     Batman Forever-It's not forever, but it feels like it at points...OK, that was a cheap shot, and it turns out I am not better than that. It's campy, a lot of the colors look like they would be better suited to a rave, and Bat-suit nipples and butt-shot, but those are not the things that make it the weakest of the four to me. what hurts it the most, is that Val Kilmer as Batman looks like he hated what he was doing, and has no feeling for it at all.

     Batman and Robin- More Bat-nipples and butt-shots, (but no Batt-nipples on Batgirl- only a Bat-Bustier) but I like Clooney as an aging Batman, and I like Arnie's Mr Freeze- I will defend that if needed.

     Superman Returns- In my eyes, this one doesn't hang together- It has some stunning scenes, but they don't seem to know what to do with most of the characters. Routh looks good as Superman, but he comes off as reactive rather than active.

     I am noticing this article is getting long enough to warrant a sequel. so I am going to write a next part- Trilogy anyone?