Saturday, April 8, 2023
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Director: John Carpenter
I framed this watch party as a "birthday surprise" as my birthday is next week. So, until folks clicked on the watch party link, they had no idea what we were watching, so rather than me receiving a birthday surprise, I delivered one in the form of ol' Jack Burton.
To be fair, Big Trouble in Little China (1986) is a tough sell. It's an action comedy that looks more or less like a straight action movie of the mid-80's and only occasionally winks to say "we're kidding here". Also, by this point, 80's action movies were almost beyond parody, so having a lead hero who is all unsupportable braggadocio and a female lead who is an exposition-dumping, hard-headed crusader - you kind of have to listen to what and how people are delivering their lines to get "this is a joke".
Explaining why something is funny, of course, makes it immediately not-funny. And so Big Trouble in Little China is not a movie I've often shared with people. But, you turn 48 once. And why not enjoy a movie again you liked when you were 11?
It's just not to everyone's taste, or in alignment with everyone's expectations, and that's okay. I would say that if you haven't seen it since you were a kid, it may be a very different movie than what you thought it was at age 12 or whatever.
Also, we're still crushing on Gracie Law.
Prior discussion here.
One of our first podcasts included discussion of Big Trouble in Little China.
Futbol is underway
Austin FC is my local team and my point of view when it comes to soccer/ futbol. I am a fan. I'll be ride-or-die with this team and the fanbase. They are off to a very rough start.
Futbol is a weird sport in that, unlike pretty much every other US-based sport, they don't just play within their league. They also will play within a variety of Cups series, which adds extra games in the middle of the week. It's bananas. But, you can also get knocked out if you lose those games. Which AFC did.
It hasn't helped that my guy, Julio Cascante, went down with an injury about twenty minutes into the new season and one of our other strong defenders, Gabrielsen, returned to Norway for family reasons. Anyway, it's not been great, but it's a long season. And I'll be there! Verde! Listos!
In fact, we have tickets to see them play next week.
Apple and MLS
Apple+ is now the home for all of MLS, which is... fine. I don't think they're actually sending the folks calling games to the stadiums, and because they're treating it almost like NCAA football coverage, they're missing what Americans depend on in some ways during long sporting seasons - we need coverage by homers.
I don't know who the people are covering games. They don't show them, they don't explain who they are, and there's a real tendency in soccer coverage to do it in a "what I would have done here" way I expect out of football games at 11:00 AM on a Saturday by ESPN's third tier guys. It's not holistic coverage recognizing the audience, it's putting the person calling the game in the position of critic and a second adversary when you're watching. I love baseball coverage by my local folks because they're living and dying with the team, an extension of that team, and they know to be merciful to the audience listening while also being honest. It seems like an easy tweak for Apple to make, but I assume that placing teams in every city if very expensive versus having people sitting at a table in New York watching the games on a feed, which is what I suspect is happening.
I was also expecting the obvious to occur and a SportsCenter style show to arrive by Sunday morning after the Saturday matches, but instead it's basically just a dry highlight reel. This is, in fact, bad. It both keeps the audience at a distance from the game, players and staff, but it also suggests that there's nothing to see here or discuss, really. Which... I'm the first person to make fun of the endless coverage of sports on 5 Fox Sports channels, 10 ESPN channels, 4 NBC Channels, etc... and the parade of dum-dums who get paid to make stuff up about sports. But I don't think 30-60 minutes per week to cover an entire sports league that gets no coverage elsewhere is asking too much.
This weekend the US Women's National Team is playing in Austin, and I failed to secure tickets. I'm a little down about it, but I think they'll be back, maybe even this year as they head toward World Cup play this summer.
And do plan to watch this summer, USWNT looks great, but in addition to the usual other power houses, England's team seems to be on an incredible roll.
But let's see what Rose Lavelle and Crystal Dunn do this year for USWNT.
The baseball season is underway! Cubs are still gelling and look middle-of-the-road so far. I didn't watch much last year, but am giving it some time again, which means figuring out who some of these guys are, especially on pitching.
And, it's hard to know how good any of these guys will be over the length of the season. You see people come in hot at the start of a season and fizzle at the end of month one. Other people get hot for a while. Others - especially pitchers - can be all over the place during a season. I'm excited one of our pitchers seems to have found a good spot as a reliever (Alzolay). But I also want to see more out of defense, especially around third base.
And, I've been watching Pitching Ninja videos.
I never watched The Wire when it first aired. Until HBOmax, HBO was something I'd have sporadically, but didn't feel the need to watch whatever was the hot HBO show and the movie selection was usually pretty mediocre.
My brother had the series on DVD and loaned it to Jamie and me in 2007, but according to him we weren't "watching it fast enough" to demonstrate we truly appreciated it. And he took the DVD set away. It was hilarious, but I wound up just not watching the show at all.
But now I have the idiotically named HBOmax* and therefore access to The Wire, and I'm watching it with Laura and Marshall, one episode per week. Laura is documenting her journey through The Wire via this Tumblr.
I am sure my participation is frustrating for my pals as I tend not to say a lot about a TV show until the end of a season. I'm either enjoying it or I'm not, but I tend not to want to say much about a character's arc until the end of the season, because that's when you can say what worked or what didn't. Anything before is guess work.
As I mentioned in our chat, if you've worked for a large organization or one that's "political" (I suspect everyone's workplace with more than six people is political, literally or figuratively), it's a reminder of how people and their self-interest are their own worst enemies when it comes to solving the problems their paid to solve. Obviously the point of the show, but - it's kind of fascinating to also see it done in a way that isn't just a labor to watch. You can see the angles without feeling like you're watching Death of a Bureaucrat.
What Else Are We Watching?
Ted Lasso - I feel like this season is off to a good start, I'm glad it's back, etc... But, man, I hate that they added the fortune teller to predict the future for even one scene. I know you dum-dums decided astrology was real during COVID, but now we have to deal with fan speculation and, technically, wizards existing in the universe of a straightforward TV show. Other than that, it's been lovely, and they more or less seem to have found a workable and less awkward storyline for Rebecca this season.
Abbott Elementary - The only 1/2 hour network sitcom we watch. I'll be curious how long they can keep this up.
Mandalorian - I've seen nothing but the whining on twitter from people who get confused by any story more complicated than a side-scroller videogame, but pretty clearly Star Wars is expanding the timeline and storyline from a pretty narrow window to include the wider Star Wars universe, and that's... a good thing. I was not a BSG watcher, so this is my first real time spent with Katee Sackhoff, and y'all were right about her.
Superman and Lois - The weirdly undiscussed Superman show is still 2/3rds soap opera, 1/3rd Superman-ness, and that's... fine. I've settled in, and after 2 prior seasons, I know the last few episodes of each seasons are where they'll pull out the super-story and remind you how cool Superman stuff can be. In many ways, Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth "Bitsie" Tulloch are near-exact embodiments of how I think of Lois and Clark in the comics. It's honestly kind of weird how much they've got it down. There are things I wish they'd tweak or do differently, but I suspect the budget is a limiting factor for more time at the Fortress or doing Superman things. But it's a lot for a CW show, so I'm happy about just having a Superman and Lois I can completely buy.
Schmigadoon - Season 2 of the show I've not even heard my theater-pals discuss is underway and you can tell they're a lot more comfortable from jump. Rather than the Meredith Wilson style of musical, we're moving into Sondheim and Fosse, and while, yeah, maybe it helps to do your homework and this won't be for everyone, I'm *barely* a musicals guy, and this works for me. Plus, Cicely Strong and Keegan-Michael Key are endlessly funny just existing on screen as folks reacting to what is happening.
*to my dying day, I will believe this branding was the work of people who don't understand the holdings and possible reach of WB's vast library, but who really think Game of Thrones is neat
Friday, April 7, 2023
|literally never been this happy or excited, ever|
It's almost my birthday, but rather than y'all surprising me, I'm going to use the opportunity to surprise YOU!
Who KNOWS what we'll choose for our birthday flick? You're going to have to attend to find out!
Day: Friday, April 7th
Time: 6:30 Pacific, 8:30 Central
Cost: no more than $5
Runtime: no longer than 1:45
(link live 10 minutes before showtime)
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Hey! Danny of Superheroes Every Day is starting a podcast! And guess who is one of his first guests!
No, not Jamie. Also, not Simon. Nor is it Stuart.
Me. It's me. I'm on the podcast.
Anyway, Danny has released some teaser trailers!
For Part 1 of Man of Steel
For Part 2 of Man of Steel
Monday, April 3, 2023
Editor's note: This is Part 2 of a series. You can view the first part with just the click of a button.
also, this is a cross-post with the OG blog, League of Melbotis
By April of 2003, we were blogging. For a look at the initial form of League of Melbotis on Blogspot/ Blogger, click on over to The Wayback Machine.
As mentioned in the first post, soon I was emailing and managing comments from friends and strangers. But, also, some of those pals already had their own blogs or quickly started one. It was easy, often free, and gave folks a chance to speak their mind. People were religious about their choice of platform. Livejournal people developed quite the mythologizing about themselves that arguably continues to this day. WordPress users constantly complained about what they were using but refused to change.
JimD started his first blog of many. RHPT joined in. Soon I was aware of Maxwell (she of the podcast) starting up Cowboy Funk, which detailed her life as a Texas ex-pat in NYC. I knew her husband before we met via his own web-presence and mentions on the blog.
So, twenty years ago Jamie and I were living in the wasteland suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona in a town-turned-bedroom community name of Chandler. We'd moved out to Phoenix in pursuit of a new job for Jamie. But, also, we figured we were young and didn't have that many roots down in the years after college and marrying fairly early (2000). Now seemed a good time for trying new places and things.
It didn't work out.
You can visit Jamie's occasional remembrances of our time in Phoenix, and that's a goodly part of the story. But, also, between Jamie's health, the fact I was working crazy hours, and a general lack of opportunity to meet people, we just didn't know many folks in town that we could call "pal". I either managed or was supervised by the people I worked with, and Jamie mostly worked with men - so she wasn't meeting many women she could pal with- and everyone she worked with seemed to be at a different point in their lives from hanging our with two 20-somethings. That, and, man, if you asked me what the culture was in Phoenix in 2003, I'd say "strip malls and pretending you're rich". We just didn't click with many folks.
So, that's where we were at in some ways.
Sunday, April 2, 2023
Format: Criterion Disc
Director: John M. Stahl
It's funny how certain films experience a bit of trendiness within the classic film community or film noir world. But, here's the thing, rarely is the surge of enthusiasm unearned.
Leave Her to Heaven (1945) was buzzy a year or so ago. I tried to watch it on the Criterion Channel but occasionally Criterion blips when I try to watch it, and I was literally watching it the day before it left and gave up. So I took a gamble and with the recent Criterion sale picked up the BluRay. And I am not disappointed. Appropriate buzzing, classic film nerds.
I have zero problem with a good, dark melodrama that bleeds into early noir, and, boy howdy, is this that. Heck, I just like a good melodrama these days.*
The movie is about a woman (Gene Tierney) who, while going to spread her father's ashes with her mother and adopted sister (Jeanne Crain), meets an author (Cornel Wilde). All are from Boston and find they enjoy one another's company and Wilde and Tierney fall for each other even though she's engaged to a politician (Vincent Price!) - which she breaks off long distance.
Saturday, April 1, 2023
Format: Watch Party
Director: Paul Lynch
We decided to watch another Jamie Lee Curtis movie for a Friday party watch. This one is a post-Halloween JLC, when I guess folks pegged her as a scream queen. But this is JLC, so she never really screams, she just kind of kicks ass when she's drawn into the action.
I'd not previously seen Prom Night. When Prom Night II was meme-ing a while back, I tried to watch it first, even though the two are utterly unrelated. At that time, the movie wasn't available for some reason, but now it is, and while a career retrospective of an actor like JLC who is constantly working is difficult, why not try to check off the boxes?
The actual plot of the movie, if you break down what it is, is really good. I liked it. But, man, the execution was all over the place. Some parts were really solid, and some just dragged on when the outcome of, say, a girl chased by a killer, is never in doubt. At this point in the slasher cycle, I assume the audiences would know that? I dunno. I was 5.
The set up is that a bunch of kids are playing in an empty building in 1972 and one of the little kids, while playing a tag-like game, falls from a window to her death. Because kids are all sociopaths, they make a pact to never tell anyone they were there and the death is supposed to be tied to a child molester who escapes.
So, there's a lot going on in the first ten minutes.
Flash forward to 8 years later as the kids are getting ready for prom, the death of the girl remembered on the anniversary - and maybe that molester guy has returned?
Anyway - all of that is gold, and possibly culled from the story the movie is based on. But, man, the movie itself is kind of weird and draggy from the set up to the last 30 minutes or so, which is really pretty good. Consequently, there's 45 minutes of the world's boringest 20-somethings posing as teens, romantic rivalries that only kinda work, a Carrie-ish riff from a meangirl, and maybe too many characters who only ever raise up to the mark of mildly interesting.
What you can see is that JLC kind of shines in the middle of all this without doing a lot. She's just got star power, and is projecting waves of energy, which culminates in a dance sequence at the prom (JLC can dance, apparently!) and then when she takes on the killer.
Leslie Nielsen is in this playing a straight role as JLC's dad and the principal of the school. I have literally no idea why he is in this. He only seems to have been there for a few days of shooting and gets top billing.
If the movie could have been as consistently good as the beginning and end, I'd recommend it. I can see why they went daffy with the sequel. This movie is, in many ways, a tragedy dressed up as a horror film, and it makes everything kind of a bummer as the thing wraps. But it's also not a police procedural, so I can see why it works as it does with high school kids at the center and cops at the periphery.
Friday, March 31, 2023
I'm still, as always, on my Jamie Lee Curtis kick, and I've been meaning to do Prom Night since we kicked off the ol' Covid lockdown. So, let's do it.
I've never seen this thing, but it's got JLC, so we're assuming it can't be all bad. But you'll have to axe her, I guess.
Hey, it was this or Virus, and apparently even JLC doesn't like Virus. So we'll save that for when Dug is around.
Day: Friday 03/31/2023
Time: 8:30 Central, 6:30 Pacific
(link live 10 minutes before showtime)
Special Help Instructions: After clicking the link, you will see a "watch with ads" button and "More Purchase Options" button. Click " More Purchase Options". On that screen, select "Rent HD $1.99"
Yesterday, March 30th, was John Astin's 93rd birthday. He's been largely retired for a while, so younger folks might not know his work, but he's a gifted actor and just @#$%ing funny.
Y'all go speak some Italian to your sweeties and celebrate John Astin this weekend!