Monday, September 12, 2016
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) is one of my favorite Bond films. If I had a top 5 pre-Craig Bond films, this would be hovering right next to Goldfinger. It's peak Moore, when he's not just seemingly having a laugh in a tux, but he's funny as hell but still buyable in action sequences - of which this movie has some good ones. It has one of my favorite title sequences/ theme songs after Goldfinger with Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better", and the pre-title's opening is directly tied to character motivations later in the film (and it's a bad-ass ski-chase with the best ending to a ski chase on film!).
When I was in high school, I'd quit playing officially sanctioned sports about 3 games into the basketball season my sophomore year (that's a whole other story, but let's just say - that was my first experience in recognizing an adult had no idea what they were doing). I was kind of between activities at one point, and somehow heard about this thing where people were hitting each other with foam swords and shields - Society for Creative Anachronism. I briefly considered getting involved - I mean, who doesn't want to smack someone with a sword? - but then had a thought that maybe this was not going to be the thing I would do, even if it were fun. It sounded like something that would start off exciting and then devolve into nonsense.
Watching 90 minutes of the 2006 documentary film Darkon has not cleared up much of how that would have gone for me.
Darkon (2006) follows the better part of a year of an intricately designed and played Live Action Role-Playing game (aka: LARPing) and the lives of the folks who partake in the... activity? Lifestyle?
"Darkon" is the name of the fantasy continent inhabited by the players of the game. They keep a map of spaces broken out into hexes (a common sight to anyone who played table-top RPG's) and battle in real-space for those hexes with a set of seemingly well-agreed upon battle rules. Armies of folks representing nations (armies seeming between 15 and up to 75 people) whack at each other with foam covered weapons and an array of objects meant to represent everything from catapult missiles to wizard-cast "fireballs" or, more infamously, "lightning bolts".
The players take on characters - lots of Lords of Realms and whatnot. Magical beings. Wizards. If it showed up in a fantasy novel in the past 40 years, it's probably something someone is pretending to be.
Friday, September 9, 2016
|Tiny Spock is judging you|
This here above is the culmination of my Star Trek collection. You'll notice it's a little Gorn-centric. When Diamond put out all the gear I'd wanted since I was 11, I went ahead and did that. I've only made room for a model of NCC-1701, but I'd sure like an NCC-1701-A and NCC-1701-D sometime (if I knew where they'd go).
Tonight I celebrated Trek with my brother by getting pizza and enjoying some official Star Trek 50th Anniversary beer.
We watched the original series episodes "Arena" and "The Enterprise Incident". I hadn't seen "The Enterprise Incident" since I was a kid, and it was really pretty darn good. Funny what happens when you get your head around, uh, "relations" more than you did at age 13. That D.C. Fontana is a heck of a writer.
After I got home, Jamie was watching the beginning of Star Trek: Generations but had to go to bed. So, we've agreed we're going to sprint through the Next Generation films, which I haven't seen in forever. And, hey, I'm a big fan of those characters.
Now I'm watching "The Naked Time" on BBC America. Good day, all and all.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Here's to 50 years of Star Trek, in television, movies and beyond.
September 8th, 1966 saw the premier of Star Trek on network television. The episode was "The Man Trap" (the Salt Monster one). The show lasted for three seasons and blazed trails before spinning off into weirdly wild success in syndication. Of course, Star Trek: The Next Generation cut out the middleman and went straight into syndication.
I am not a real Trekker, and I'm okay with that. I never really watched much Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise. Not the way I watched original series or Next Generation. I like all the movies with the original cast for one reason or another, even if I mostly enjoy Star Trek V as camp. I even liked Star Trek Beyond quite a bit (Karl Urban was fantastic).
Where Star Wars broke me circa 1999, ending it's drought in 2015 with The Force Awakens, there's always been enough Trek to keep me invested, willing to go to bat and try another movie, TV show, episode, what-have-you. But I've never felt fan enough to attend a Star Trek convention or the like. Which is weird. I guess I've just always been aware that I'm a fan, but I've seen the real fans, if you know what I mean (I do not know a single word of Klingon, for example).
The original show sparked my imagination when I became a regular viewer of episodes at 5:00 PM on the local UHF channel when I was about 10. The idea of moving through space, of not just constantly fighting some antagonist over and over, but exploring, of discovery - that got my interest. Also, Lieutenant Uhura. But flying around in a ship I still haven't gotten over, not necessarily shooting or punching to solve the problem of the week, of trying to find a better tomorrow out on the edge of known space...? Sign me up.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
On Labor Day, the El Rey Network was showing a Superman 4 movie marathon. I basically turned on the TV and left it on the El Rey Network all day and into the evening, doing other things, but watching a whole lotta Superman.
They started with Superman: The Movie, and then started a Superman reverse marathon, showing Superman's IV, III, II and then Superman: The Movie again. I watched Superman: The Movie from the point where young Clark throws the green crystal into the ice to the end, then watched all of Superman IV, then all of Superman III, then I went and moved around a bit, but came back to watch the part of Superman: The Movie I hadn't yet watched.
As I believe, like with the RoboCop franchise, watching the movies in reverse order means you end on a high note instead of trailing off into a lot of bad decision making and slashed budgets - this may be the ideal way to watch the movies once you're overly familiar with them.
There's not much new to write, and, frankly, I was doing other things - like writing up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - while watching Superman's IV and III. But it was a good palette cleanser, Superman wise.
Also, Superman IV is just terrible. All four movies have issues, sure, and Superman III is actually grating in parts (Richard's Lester and Pryor are a toxic combination), but it also has some small bits of genius, like the Bad Superman vs. Clark Kent fight. Superman IV has the one speech by Lois Lane to the ailing Clark Kent, and that's it. Before anyone thinks I can't bag on these movies - my friends, I absolutely can and will - because everything about Jon Cryer in Superman IV is some of the worst decision making ever put to celluloid, and Superman III is so troubled in it's conception, it makes my eyes hurt to think about the actual plot.
Still, you gotta like Christopher Reeve.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
My mistake - packing for our Seattle trip, I just reached onto my shelf and grabbed this book without checking the reading order. So, after reading 24 of the Parker/ Grofield novels, I finally accidentally read one out of order.
Mostly with Parker novels, it doesn't matter, they're self-contained. But of course, after 24 of these things (if you count both Parker and Grofield books, and I do), this one ends on a cliffhanger. I kind of want to know what happens next rather than go back and read Breakout, the one I accidentally skipped. So, we'll see.
But we're here to talk Nobody Runs Forever, the 2004 Parker novel by Richard Stark.
Of the post-hiatus Parker novels, this one has Parker feeling, perhaps, the most like Parker again, even if much of what occurs around Parker feels less like an old-school Parker strategy session and execution of a heist and, instead, Stark spends his page count and energies on exploring the cast of misfits around the heist, seeming to want to explore new characters he introduces, possibly for a spin-off series.
In my recent post on the 2016 smash hit Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in discussing the movie, I tried to stick to what I saw as over-arching issues from a character and structural perspective. I wouldn't say I cherry-picked, but I tried to focus on recurring issues indicative of the larger problem of Snyder and Goyer's take on their universe. I didn't want to get too nitpicky about plot holes. But...
I do still have some plot-related questions, some loops that could be closed. Let's explore together, shall we?
1a. Batman is waiting for Lex's people to come off the White Portugese. I forget how he knew what they had (I'll assume they explained that - probably on the mystery drive), but didn't the Cherry Jolly Rancher scene make it clear that Lex received legal clearance to bring Kryptonite into the country? So - Batman was essentially killing guys for legally moving a government approved research specimen into the country. Can that be right?
1b. So, if Superman lets Batman just kill all those people and then flies off, then what is happening there?
2. The security protocol on the Kryptonian ship (which speaks English, of course) is to state "well, the council doesn't want you to create this terrible abomination which, for some reason, we keep record of how to do in our database", but if you respond without any kind of password protected override of any kind and an unverifiable verbal instruction that the council is no longer in place, the ship will help you make a horrible monster? Wasn't this a chance to show that Lex was some sort of genius by understanding xenotech and by-passing all of that encryption, etc...?
Monday, September 5, 2016
So, I was in no rush to ever see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
In summer of 2013, despite the many positives of having a Man of Steel movie even existing, a stellar score by Hans Zimmer and Amy Adams cast as Lois Lane, I never cottoned to the movie, and, in fact, despite the fact my completionist self purchased a deeply discounted BluRay of the movie, it's never found it's way onto the platter for a spin.
But, you know, WB and DCE seemed aware of their problems with Man of Steel. It was a little hard to ignore when adults watching the movie started saying "holy @#$%. Did I just watch a movie where Superman was turning presumably occupied buildings into rubble and started his public career by snapping the neck of the bad-guy? Yeesh." So, despite the return of Zack "I don't understand characters or motivations" Snyder as director and the casting of Jessie "Two Modes of Nebbish" Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, I'd tried to withhold judgment until the reviews hit. And, mostly, the reviews were not kind on many levels. So, I'd stayed away.
But, ha ha ha. One of you (JimD) decided to just send me a copy of the BluRay in the mail. Over the course of two evenings, I watched the movie, trying not to open my computer or look at my phone when the movie got dull (which was more or less 90 of the 150 minutes). I tried to make note of what I liked and didn't like, but - I guess unsurprisingly - the movie offered little to enjoy that was not Amy Adams.
It's not the worst movie I've ever seen. for example - Suicide Squad was just a dumber movie. But BvS:DoJ felt positively adolescent in some ways, and had the storytelling instincts of a five year old relating the events of the day. But it has some interesting stuff in it, too, as far as DC Comics lore.
It's just not a terribly good movie.
|Tyrone Swoopes makes the winning TD!|
It's been a heck of a day. Weekend. Week. Whatever. But certainly this evening was interesting.
As we often do, we had a few folks over for "the game", which, in this part of Texas, means The University of Texas Football game. This was the first week of NCAA Football, and as UT has been in a transitional period the past few years, the two most recent under Head Coach Charlie Strong, getting geared up to see what this year's squad would do on the field was something I was approaching with cautious optimism.
Part of our get-together included an impromptu celebration for some good friends, Matt & Nicole, who got engaged on Saturday. So, we kicked off before kick-off with some champagne.
Back during our post National Championship season (2005), UT Football was taking some criticism for packing the pre-conference schedule with lightweight teams we were likely to beat, usually to guarantee a few W's on the year's record, to get the team in fighting shape for conference play, and to work out the kinks before facing Oklahoma. Well, greed for TV deals and our own arrogance got us to sign with Notre Dame for some pre-Conference games (and Ohio State as well, but I think that's over with), and in our hubris, I guess we thought we'd just wander out there and beat those well-respected teams.