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Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday Media Musings: To Boldly Go...

     I'm more a Star Wars guy than a Trekker. I was too young to see Star Trek TOS in the first blush of it's prime time debut, and too old to get too drawn into TNG and DS9 and Voyager- I watched some of them, watched all of  TOS in syndication. I do recall the Star Trek Saturday morning Cartoon that just pretty much rehashed the plot of a number of TOS did some of TNG.

     I saw up through STIV(the Voyage Home) but didn't really stay dedicated to that movie franchise like I have to some others. I recognize the importance of Star Trek as a cultural phenomenon and a societal mirror, and I recognize it's value.

     Right about now, you are thinking "what a freaking downer post. He came not to praise the Trek, but to bury it." Guess what? I Didn't bring a shovel.

     The Star Trek reboot that sprang fully formed from the mind of J.J. Abrams is brilliant, and I loved the first two films. They do seem to lose about a full Enterprise each movie, and Beyond seemed muddled, although a second viewing might clear some of that. I love the cast, I love the pacing, I love the TOS tropes that get flipped or turned sideways. The fantastic re-imagining by way of an altered timeline, some edgier relationships and some Firefly-style shoot-em-up is my cup of tea. It takes itself seriously but not too seriously.

     But I'm not here for that either. I'm here for the other thing Star Trek inspired. The Spoofs...

     I was old enough that I got to see Quark in primetime.

not this:(although I did see him in primetime)

     It was not a brilliant parody, but it was entertaining. They hit out at various Sci-fi tropes in their 8 episode run. You can find them on DVD now, if you are interested.

    Then in 1999, we got this piece of brilliance:
Galaxy Quest

     The Premise actually called me back to a Story in an old Star Trek Anthology, Visit to a Weird Planet Revisited by Ruth Berman. In the story, Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley find themselves on the real, actual, according-to-Hoyle U.S.S. Enterprise and have to face down a Klingon commander. The stories in these anthologies, along with the novels that followed the series were some of the first pre-internet fan-fiction.

     In Galaxy-Quest, of course, the semi-retired and typecast actors from the Galaxy-Quest T.V. series are making their living doing conventions and charging for autographs.  At one of these conventions, they meet representatives from an alien culture who have based their way of life on the show, and need the help of the original crew to save their civilization. If you haven't seen this...I'm not sure what to say except SEE IT IMMEDIATELY. By the Sons of Warvan, Tim Allen may do a better Shatner than Shatner. This is also a movie that makes me miss Alan Rickman all the more.

     Which brings me to now.
The Orville
     Seth MacFarlane is an interesting character. I Haven't decided yet if this is a spoof, or a serious insipred-by, or what it wants to be when it fully spreads it's wings. I think in a lot of ways the show doesn't even have the answers to these questions. First episode was ...meh, entertaining enough. Second episode was better, funnier, but the third episode took a bite of some meat. And seriously chewed. I'm not going to spoil anything here, but I personally think that the show deserves a chance to find out what it can be, and I have a new respect for MacFarlane based upon the note he ended episode three on. It took guts to not go for the happy ending and I think it was the right choice.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Funnies: A Grass Joke

     I'm imagining a story idea: A young man, heir to a an old, titled, family, but one that is financially bankrupt. His parents scraped together the last of their savings and brought the family to America. Though in a new land, they made the children promise not to forget their heritage and responsibility to the title.

     As the eldest son, he took a lot of responsibility for caring for his siblings. He took a job doing manual labor, for a lawn care company, and became an expert. Soon he was able to start his own business, caring for lawns, caring for his family and never, never forgetting where he came from.

The title? The Marquis De Sod.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


     Just a quick post to point you at a friend of mine.

     Why is he a friend? Does he buy transformers for his daughter?

     Well, no. but I like him anyway. And I think you will too.

Dose of Dad

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Toysday: Spring in My Heart

     I think I have mentioned here on this Blog that I love Springer as a character. He was one of my favorite transformers in the old days, and I tend to be very interested in any new versions that come up.

     So when i heard there was a new third party company in the wind, called Open Play and their first product, Big Spring, was going to be a masterpiece scale/style version of Springer...

     I was both intrigued and skeptical. First outing as a company, and they took on a triple changer???

     So I watched reviews, and paid attention to what other fans were saying, and it was about 90% good. He was also at a surprisingly low price point versus other iterations of the character. So I ended up biting. I bit, and was hooked.

 The Good:

  • He looks good in all three modes, tricky to do on a triple-changer.
  • His transformation is intricate, but still fun rather than headache inducing. 
  • He has a high level of articulation and posability, and is very sturdy 
  • His aesthetic goes good on my shelf. 
  • His colors blend together well, so no color is jarring or misplaced. 
  • Little touches like a variable canopy width, pop-out headlights, pop out stabilizers in helicopter mode. 
The Baddish:
  • His face is a little flat and expressionless. 
  • Some tabs don't stay tabbed in they way I would like
  • Some things don't "store" in all modes, such as the bomb and the sword holder that plugs into his back

     Final thoughts before we get to the photos- A good transformer figure is one you enjoy transforming, over and over for years. A great one is one you keep learning things about, every time you transform it. Open Play gave us this figure. No Frills packaging, no printed instructions, but they went all in on the little special touches on the figure, and they did not skimp on accessories. Whoever the designers are, I look forward to their next project. 

And Cappy joined me in my office because we are working on training out the worst of the screaming. If you have ever heard a gold-capped Conure in full voice, you will comprehend the necessity...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Media Musings

     Is not posting this week. see you next week. just don't feel like writing today, due to stuff going on here.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Toysday: Homecoming

     I intended to open this prior to today but a few things in my life got in the way. So I get to share it with you now. What amazed me when I found this was that it was on clearance. I found it within the week after the movie opened. Target got impatient I guess.

     I like these two packs, and there are a couple of others I have my eyes on. I will add those as I add them.

      The vulture is nicely screen accurate, decently posable- he has ankle tilts, good shoulders and elbows- I could wish for articulated toes, to make his claws grip, but you can get only so much from a 3.75 figure

     Spidey has excellent articulation in his legs, nothing in the wrists, but has a mid-chest bend which is nice. He's good for screen accuracy, and a nice addition to my movie figures collection

Monday, September 11, 2017

Monday Media Musings: When It Stops Being Funny

     Today Marks the 16th anniversary of 9/11 in the United States. all I could think when I realized it was "That crept up on me." It's odd how things fade with time, good and bad. I still get excited for Christmas, and my birthday. Most else, I just...mark.

     So I saw IT yesterday, and I was entertained. I was more than once tense and on the edge of my seat. I wasn't terrified or even scared at any point. I don't get scared very often, but I did remark to Sam that IT was a monster being a monster, and Detroit was more suspenseful because it was people becoming monsters and the world thrown askew.

     That being said, Bill Skarsgard's performance was incredible. The other standouts for me were Steven Bogaert as Beverly's father, and Nicholas Hamilton as Henry Bowers, the Bully.

     Did it scare me? No. Did it hold my interest for the allotted time? Yep. Worth the price of a ticket? Yep. Could IT have been driven off by a couple of teenagers with wands and the incantation "Riddikulus"? Probably.

     A fair and probably inevitable comparison can be drawn with Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight. Bill Skarsgard made such a comparison himself. In theory, both are clowns, what should be symbols of joy, innocence and laughter, but the only laughter we find in either one has an "S" in front of it.

     The Joker that Ledger portrayed is a brilliant, calculating, manipulative character, capable of creating a meticulous plan and equally capable of steering the pieces his plan depends on into place without appearing to do so. A master of misdirection and a chessmaster rolled into one. Add to that his ability to improvise and he is an incredibly formidable adversary. What makes him most dangerous in my eyes is that he embraces the monster within, and tries to make others embrace the monster within themselves. Where he fails to do that is when he loses.

     In Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett writes:

“No clowns were funny. That was the whole purpose of a clown. People laughed at clowns, but only out of nervousness. The point of clowns was that, after watching them, anything else that happened seemed enjoyable.”

     I watched another film that could have been taken funny and was not. 

     Now maybe you  have seen this film. maybe you have not. Maybe you have seen it and forgotten that you did, or maybe it just seems like a dream within a ...crap, that's Inception. 

     There are a lot of scenes in the film that are incredibly slapstick, mostly around Leonard's memory Problem. More, Guy Pearce plays them funny, as he glides through the movie with a Clint Eastwood-esque delivery. Where they are unfunny is that we don't want to laugh at the protagonist's serious disability.

     And then we reach the end, or the beginning. We find that the protagonist we have been following through his trials has done all of this before. That he has found his wife's attacker, a total of nine times and killed that person each time. We find that his friend, "Teddy" who has been helping him, has helped orchestrate these nine revenge killings. And we find that Leonard chooses to selectively edit his notes, and therefore his memory, to suit his desires. 

     In short, Leonard, poor forgetful Leonard, chooses to become a monster. I guess we all need a purpose, and Leonard's chosen purpose is to hunt and kill John G over and over until he is stopped. It's a nice twist and a nice Sucker-punch that leaves you looking back at the movie and re-watching it with very different eyes. 

     Or forgetting it, a few minutes later. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Retro Revival Blog Challenge: Things You Never Had But Always Wanted

     You probably don't know this about me, but I love action figures...

(pause for laughter)

     There is probably not anything more obvious about me, based upon this Blog alone, than that I love action figures. And I have had a lot of action figures, from a couple of G.I. Joe 12" to a number of Mego Worlds Greatest Super Heroes, Star Trek(Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Klingon) and even Wyatt Earp from one of their collections. I have had Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Micronauts, Dukes of Hazzard, on up to the point where Mego faded into the Past.

     I've had Star Wars from the first sets from Kenner up to the Hasbro 3.75 Black series.

     So what could I wish for? I've had a great life as a collector, gathered and released a number of collections to focus on my Transformers, finally.

     My big regret is this, and this primarily. I grew up.

     This is not me having a weird peter Pan thing, where I want to be a child forever. And probably fight pirates.

     This is that I hit my teens when toys were getting really advanced. I was collecting transformers and playing transformers adventures out with my nephews when I was in high school, but you hit a point where all your friends are into cars, girls, sports, or what have you, and it's hard to hold on to that spark of childhood play. Mine almost went out after my first divorce, and the first Power of the Force II figures caught my interest and fanned it back into a glowing ember, and then a quiet flame.

     But I have run rather far afield from the topic, and now I need to get back on point.  What I would have loved as a kid but never had, would have been a better Millenium Falcon, more to scale. When I first got the Kenner Falcon, I loved it, but it was so...cramped. they tried to get everything that happened in the Falcon into a space of about 10" by 6" plus the cockpit. And sadly, that did not fly for my imagination. When the Big Millenium Falcon came out, Man I wanted that thing, but I couldn't justify the expense. Still can't, especially now that it's in collectors market prices

     So that one is going to stay a wish unfulfilled for the time being. Here is an outstanding review from a man who has one, and I will stay happy with my Masterpiece Optimus Prime and the other beloved articles on my shelves.

Here are the other entries:

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Toysday: About Last Knight...

     Love the Transformers live-action franchise or hate it, it has given us a number of really nice toys. My thoughts on TLK Barricade are here

     I didn't go as crazy on these as I have in prior years, but TLK turned out some really nice pieces, unfortunately mixed with re-paints of some of the AOE toys, such as Bumblebee and Grimlock.

     That being said, this version of hound wins hands down over AOE's version. I can almost hear John Goodman's fat ballerina speech when I look at him. He comes with multiple guns that can combine to form a super-gun as seen here. His helmet is also removable, which is kind of an odd detail choice

     If only this mold of Optimus had been the Leader AOE, rather than the awkwardly backpacked chromed nightmare we got. I guess the AOE one is not bad, it's definitely tolerable, and I have a special memory of him and a broken street date, but this one is so much neater in how he folds up and stows his car parts! He looks great! He has a built-in back-scabbard for his sword, when not in use

     And TLK accomplished one thing that the previous 4 movies did not: It got me to buy a movie Megatron- This voyager has a neat transformation, and looks great in both modes. All that, plus a bad-ass sword and brutal looking armor make this one  favorite and a keeper.

More pics as waves hit the stores. One thing about this seems as if distribution has been worse for TLK than the prior films. I just seems lackadaisical. Since it seems better with the online merchants, I suspect the big box stores are the real culprit here, and I think we can agree, not the first time ever that's happened.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Monday Media Musings: Alien Ambassadors

     Those of you know me(even casually, or just through this blog) know that I tend to go through themes in my movie watching; Grabbing one movie off the shelf tends to connect me to other movies I haven't even thought of in a while. This week I found myself hosting prot, a lone alien Emissary from the planet K-Pax

     Prot(Pronounced like "float") arrives via a beam of light in New York's Grand Central Station is arrested for odd behavior after he offers aid to a mugging victim. He is evaluated, unsuccessfully medicated, and finally treated by Dr. Mark Powell as delusional. during his stay in the hospital, he helps many of the patients heal themselves, always insisting he is going to leave on a specific date. Powell is convinced that the date marks a trauma and that prot will become violent or self destructive when he doesn't go back to K-Pax. He goes to great lengths to heal what he sees as a man in pain. Not going to spoil the ending, but the atmosphere of the movie, the lone piano playing wistful music and the use of light beams and lens flares is incredibly appropriate for setting the mood.

     Prot led me to a much earlier emissary, invited here by the message included in our Voyager 2 space probe. He is the unnamed protagonist of Starman

     He arrives to fighter planes and a missile, shooting down his craft in northern Wisconsin, clones himself some human camouflage in the form of Jenny Hayden's dead husband and has her take him down to Arizona to rendezvous with his ride home. Along the way they fall in love, while hounded by furies from the U.S. government. His tools that help him along the way are seven "Miracle Spheres" that allow him to do pretty much anything.

       In terms of miraculous abilities, you have to love Paul, of the film of the same name

    Where most aliens are on a different level than us, exuding a moral superiority borne of their higher level of evolution... Paul is "earthy". He's rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. He seems to have three tricks, Camouflage(as long as he can hold his breath) healing, where he briefly takes on the injury of another, and the ability to convey the knowledge of his people at a touch. He takes a road trip with Graeme, Clive and Ruth to rendezvous with his ride home at devils tower in Wyoming, pursued by U.S. Government agents and others. He also claims to have consulted on a large number of Sci-Fi movies, while locked up in a research facility.

     And when you talk about aliens with earthy desires, it doesn't get much earthier than the trio from Earth Girls Are Easy

     Mac, Zeebo and Wiploc Aren't here for science...they are here to get laid. Maybe an oversimplification, but this 1980's musical romp, inspired by Julie Brown's song is fun, colorful and has Geena Davis at some of her comedy best. Valerie is wholesome, adorable, a little clumsy, and in a bad relationship when the three hapless explorers accidentally crash into her pool and her life. Their special alien ability? A "love touch" that brings ecstasy. Here is a video someone did of the original song.

     I touched upon this theme briefly here. These movies show a common theme, highlighting Man's(the species) greed, avarice and paranoia, but also Man's capacity to learn, to care for beings not of his own kind...our curiosity and our empathy. A sort of a warning mixed with hope. It seems we imagine one of two scenarios- the Aliens come in force, and are the aggressors, or one alien comes here and we are the antagonists.

     As to how we would actually treat an alien emissary? Would he (or she)walk among us like a god, As does Kal El of Krypton or Thor of Asgard, or would they hide among us in fear of what we might (and probsbly would) do? I would like to think I would welcome a peaceful emissary, but  who is to say I haven't already met one and never knew?