Friday, October 17, 2014

Quick Fanboy thoughts on the string of DCU movies

So, this little piece has gotten shoved around the interweb the past day or so.  Again, Warner and DC are doing little toward making me think this won't be a clusterfuck of epic proportions.
Giving some thought to the success of the Marvel flicks, as DC does nothing to make me think it won't be a pigpile. I feel like the 3 stars of Marvel's phase 1, up to and including Avengers, have to be Robert Downey Jr., for being a charismatic and believable (within the framework) superhero, Tom Hiddleston (and the writing crew of Thor, and later, Avengers) for bringing an understandable, even likeable villain to the table, and Clark Gregg, who as Agent Coulson brings an every-man (an ultra-competent every-man, but an every-man nonetheless).

I am hopeful Warner and DC find a written thread and a string of performances strong enough to make their Universe work. Henry Cavill wasn't bad as Superman (I've not considered his mopey Superman to be a fault in anything but direction), but he wasn't as strong as Downey as Iron Man, or Evans as Captain America. Affleck's Batman is a concern, but despite my "meh" feelings on his performances, I do believe he understands storytelling and the strength of source material that I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt.
I look at that list, and I find concern with Jason Momoa in an Aquaman movie. I'm not saying it can't or won't work. I'm saying that 8 years ago, if you'd said "Iron Man" movie to me, I'd also have been "meh." But, I had enough faith in Favreau and Downey that I didn't think it was going to be a train wreck going in. I'm not as familiar with Momoa as I was Downey, though I was a bigger fan than most of Conan the Barbarian a couple years back. Still, there wasn't a lot in Conan, or as Khal Drogo, to make me think he would be interesting enough to carry a whole movie.  I liked Conan because he wasn't insulting as Conan, and I felt that movie was closer to the feel of Robert Howard's stories I read back in sixth grade than any other adaptation to that point.  That said?  We're not ankle deep in sequels to that flick, so the general public didn't apparently show their love in the form of dollars paid.
That's where I'm afraid DC's making their mistake. Is he going to get enough attention in Batman v. Superman, or Justice League, to make most go see an Aquaman movie? This whole thing feels top heavy, I guess. I'm not saying Batman or Superman need an origin movie. I am saying that some characters do. I don't want to bank on Zack Snyder being able to do the characters credit with 5-30 minutes of shared screentime.
And I guess that that's the turd in the punchbowl for me. Snyder's take on Man of Steel is my biggest concern, considering he's already concocted a lumbering monstrosity that ran counter to a couple of the most important aspects of the Superman character. And he's the one driving this Justice League tank. He wore out any gravitas he might have earned with 300 and Watchmen with Superman and Zod brawling through Metropolis.

One last thing I'll mention about the Marvel flicks of phase 2.  That string of things tying things together from phase 1 hasn't been as apparent to me for Iron man 3, Thor: Dark World, Captain American Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy.  But, each of those movies was strong, with Winter Soldier and Guardians being home runs.  Tangential thought?  I think the biggest swing and miss of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to this point was completely under-utilizing Chris Eccleston in Thor: Dark World.  That man is an awesome actor, and a great fit to the Thor Universe, yet all the have him do is walk around and growl?  That one felt like they worked hard to inflate the role of Hiddleston's Loki.  I'm not complaining about more Loki, except that I wish it hadn't come at the expense of Eccleston.
Just a fanboy thought, or two. And I guess that's the last thing I'll want to say. I am a fanboy. Warner and DC don't really need to worry about getting my money, probably for any of these flicks. I'll likely see all of them in the theater. What might be more telling is if I pay to see them again--Guardians of the Galaxy, I've ended up seeing three times...and that's not something I've done for a movie in recent least since Dark Knight.

Tommy's Mindlessly Stupid Project, Volume 5

Still ongoing.  I think this has been going since around Memorial Day.  I am currently maybe 25 % through the second shelf.  Need to get my ass in gear blogging, though.

The Blair Witch Project   (1999, D: Myrick/Sanchez)

I never saw this one on the Big Screen, and in a weird way, I'm glad.  There are occasionally movies that deserve to be watched in a dark room on a smallish screen.  This is one.

I don't know if I'm an apologist, or a defender, or a booster.  I like this flick.  I've liked it from the get-go.  Hits many of the right notes for me.  Lost in the woods.  The claustrophobic feeling of being in a tent, when there's something you can't see outside the tent.  Abandoned structures out in the woods.  A lot of this flick feels like it could have been filmed on the ridge across the field from my folks' house.

Still?  There's a leap of faith for found footage movies, and this one's not any different.  At some point, self-preservation, fatigue and battery life have to come into play.  You're too scared, tired or pissed off to keep filming.

This was the first time in a while that I'd watch this one, and was kind of expecting to want to toss it.  I liked it.  There are other found footage features that end up doing it better, but the tidal wave that accompanied this one in 1999 is still fun to me....

Blazing Saddles     (1974, D: Brooks)

What's not to love with Blazing Saddles.  I was in high school the first time I watched this, after somebody had to explain the reference "Mongo only pawn in game of life."  It's one of those flicks that just speaks right to the silly part of my makeup.  As soon as I saw it, it shot up to the top of my favorite movies list.

I tend not to watch it often, just to preserve some of the magic.  It's been a while since I'd sat down with this one.  Harvey Korman doesn't get enough credit.  I once purposely tanked a question at a quiz bowl tournament just so we could do the Hedy/Hedley LaMarr joke with Charlie Steinhice....

Blues Brothers     (1980, D: Landis)

Just a great schmozz of a movie.  A white boy's R&B love letter.  I love that this flick could take place in the same universe as South Pacific or Annie, in that people break into song and choreographed dance numbers at the drop of a hat.

Is it out of line to note that Aretha Franklin always seems like she'd be a hell of a fun lady to hang out with.  Smart, down to Earth with a good sense of humor?

My roommate in college and I argued about whether Jake's girlfriend was Carrie Fisher or Ronald Reagan's daughter Nancy Davis.

Bonnie and Clyde    (1967, D: Penn)

As opposed to Aretha Franklin, doesn't Estelle Parsons specialize in playing people you want to jump through your screen to beat with a shoe?  I spent this viewing just gritting my teeth along with Bonnie every time Blanche talked.

It's weird how, every time I watch this, Warren Beatty as Clyde, just gets younger and younger...

This movie contains Dub Taylor Movie Shelf Appearance #3

Braveheart    (1995, D: Gibson)

Mel may be a lunatic, but he makes a hell of a fun flick.  I would like Mel and Kevin Costner to make competing movies about the same event and Mel's, he would be man against the antagonistic Costner (and the world).  Kevin would likewise be a man against the world, facing Gibson.

This movie contains Brendan Gleeson Movie Shelf Appearance #4

Brazil    (1985, D: Gilliam)

I had to take this one out of the Getting Ready for Work TV and go put it on the Big TV out in the living room.  This one deserve and annual-or-so sit and view.  Oddly Pretty.  Funny, and a little scary.  Might end up being Gilliam's technical and artful best.  He's not just some Python making human cartoons, here.

Bridge on the River Kwai    (1957, D: Lean)

What a pretty, pretty flick.  Honor.  Duty.   Which is more and more impotant.  I'm kind of sad that I watched this one in increments, because it's another one that deserves a watch on a big screen.  Beautifully shot.  Lots of conflict between guys who are all pretty much fighting the same internal fight with themselves, all while fighting with each other.

Brother Bear      (2003, D: Blaise/Walker)

I tried watching this one straight, and couldn't make it through.  Weak, weak outing from Disney, that's only saved by backup performances, and in this case, a backup commentary track.  If you have the means, I highly recommend watching this one with Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis providing commentary as their characters, Rutt and Tuke, who are themselves, cleaned up versions of Bob and Doug McKenzie.  Big Props to Disney for including that on their disc.  I'd never have even considered watching the movie, were it not for Buddy at Videoculture, back in the day....

Bubba Ho-Tep   (2002, D: Coscarelli)

Bruce Campbell and Joe R. Lansdale are a near perfect pairing.  One of my favorite actors in a work based on one of my favorite writers.  And it doesn't disappoint.  Bruce Campbell is a walking cartoon with a heart of gold.  Favorite bit?  Finding the scars behind the ear....

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A good vacation?

You know, even with 4 days to go, I'm going to go ahead and declare this The Best Vacation of 2014.

Got to see a lot of friends last weekend.  A Great Hysterics.

Got to take in some Nashville Predators hockey.  First game of theirs I've attended in five or six years.

And tonight?  I got to watch the Cardinals get eliminated from the NLCS.

Not that I have any great love for the Giants.  But, I'm in much of a mind that my favorite team is The Cubs, and whoever's playing the Cardinals.

Ah.  That was fun.

Fun things that may or may not be true in my family tree

Been playing with for a few months.  Lot of good info out there.  Lot of bad info, too, put there by people who want to feel better about their existences, I would say.

There's a lot of salt grain taking.

Still.  Interesting people I might be connected to?

William Penn  (a great grandfather, along my mother's father's line).
John Penn (same line, though this one seems tenuous....a signer of the Declaration)
Rhys ap Thomas  (a great grandfather, along my mother's mother's line).
William Carey (a courtier of Henry VIII, and brother-in-law to Anne Boleyn)  (along my father's father's line)
Agnes Tocker (an early settler of Jamestown, who may have died there)
Hannah Crewes (an early settler whose parentage is of some question...part Powhatan Indian seems likely, but could be part Caribbean Indian or part Black)

Tonight?  William Shakespeare's grandfather Robert Arden might be my great (x13) grandfather along that line.

Interesting.  Might be total bullshit.  Who knows?

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Optimus Prime vs. Donatello

Tonight, while he was pooping, my nephew yelled from the bathroom whether it would be better to be Donatello or Optimus Prime?

Now, I suppose the first thing I should mention is that my nephew is 4.  It's not like I've got a 31-year-old nephew who's yelling things down the hall while crapping.  My nephew is 4, and hasn't yet discovered joys of quiet contemplation during defecation.

Being that he's 4, and he's not yet been beaten down by life, he believes in magic, that pro wrestling and Santa Claus are real, and that Optimus Prime and Donatello are both somebody that you can call on the telephone, if you have the right connections.

I don't want to be the guy to go up the hallway of my sister's house to rip him out of the absurd bit of speculation.  I don't want to destroy the little guy's self esteem by laughing at the ridiculous notion that being Donetello, either the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, or he of the name Donato di Niccolo de Betto Bardi, would compare competitively at all with being the leader of the Autobots.

Look.  Being an irradiated superhero with ninja training is awesome.  I'm sure.  

Likewise, being the premiere worker in bas-relief, and one of the most sought after artists for commission of his time has to have some perks.

But can either of them transform into a transfer truck?

Does either of them hold the Matrix of Leadership?

Is either of them voiced by Peter Cullen?

Look, when I come into my fortune, I'm going to pay Peter Cullen to be my friend as Optimus Prime, just so I can call him and ask his opinion on things.  Optimus?  You think the Cubs are looking to contend in 2015?  You think I should just toss all these jean shorts, or will they come back into fashion?  Which thoughts exactly, Prime, kept me out of the really good schools?

Look at it this way.  In a fair fight, Optimus would wipe the floor with either one of them.

Look at it another way.  If both Donatellos teamed up to fight Optimus Prime, it would still be a very short fight.

That's my philosophy, in life.  When choosing between to things, simply set them alongside one another, and imagine them fighting to the death.  It's how I chose my favorite grandmother.

There's just not much that can whip Optimus Prime in a fight to the death.

You might argue Megatron, or perhaps Bludgeon.  Maybe Godzilla, or Shaquille O'Neal, if Lemon Demon is to be believed.

However, in this life?  There is little that can beat Optimus Prime.

I know, because in 1993, Optimus Prime killed my brother in just such a contest.  And my brother was a bad fucking ass, man.  The baddest I knew, up until that point.

Once, five or six years ago, Prime challenged me to a fight drunk on memory and sour energon.

I did not fight him.

Is it cooler to be Optimus Prime or Big Stupid Tommy?

Optimus Prime.  Of course.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A link, and a minor rant on the One Game Wild Card Playoff

(Spoiler Alert:  No Link)

Tonight, Kansas City and Oakland square off in the American League's one game playoff.

Have I mentioned that I HAAAATE the one game playoff?  Loathe.   Baseball, the ultimate game of averages, left to a one game playoff. It should be a measure of last resort, and not the culmination of a season for four teams.  Too much can happen in one game.  A no account second baseman who's hit .240 the entire season can get four hits off the best pitcher in the game.  A team of six umpires can completely misunderstand the infield fly rule.  A team that leads the league in run production can get shut down for a game by a pitcher having the game of his life.

At least make it a best of three.  Hell, what's a couple more games in a regular and post-season that will last late into the fall already?

There's also a selfish note for this hatred. I work tonight, and I've come to root for the Royals somewhat in the past several weeks. I'll miss the game, tonight. Personal preference for the World Series? Royals vs. Pirates. Though I could see myself enjoying a Baltimore/Washington series very much. 

Mostly, though, I'm rooting for a highly localized seismic event where Dodger Stadium gets sucked into the earth while the Dodgers and Cardinals are on the field, perhaps for introductions. In this fantasy, Doug Eddings is on the field as umpire, and Bud Selig is throwing out the first pitch, and Kenny Chesney is singing the National Anthem, and all are sucked away, never to be thought of or mentioned ever again.

But that's just me.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Random Blogamathing Post

Wandered out on a camping trip this weekend with Shyam.  It's the first we've taken just the two of us.  It's been a busy couple of months (couple = 19, I think).  We wandered up to the mountains and just enjoyed each other's company.  We also wanted a day or two away from the crush of humanity.

2014 has been kinda hard for me.  I've tried not to let myself get too down, because it's all seemed like those things that have to happen in life.  And they are.  But they've been weighing on me a bit.  I've really felt it the past couple of months.  Stolen truck.  Dad's getting downsized.  One of my (by way of my folks) dogs dying.  Work keeping me from doing a couple of things I'd looked forward to.  And one of my best friends moving away.

That last one feels weird to say, especially at age 37.  But it is what it is.

Whatever it is, right or wrong, it's been weighing on me.

So.  Went out into the woods for a couple nights.  Get away.  Hit the reset button.  See if I can cut that moping shit out a bit.

A good trip.  Near perfect weather all weekend.  Very few neighbors.  Able to sit down, read a book and enjoy a campfire.

The book was Cherie Priest's Maplecroft.  A Lovecraftian take on Lizzy Borden.  A well-done epistolary work that manages to maintain a good energy the whole way through.  Multiple first-person narratives are tough to pull off (i.e. keep interesting, keep moving all while maintaining unique voices).  I dug the aspect of it that left you questioning some characters, and whether they were falling down the monstrous rabbit hole.

It's Priest's best since Boneshaker, which was her best, for my money.  I'll take a little while to digest, but it may end up surpassing Boneshaker as my favorite.

But I digress.

We camped.  We stayed away from people.  One set of neighbors within eyeshot our first night.  The second night featured an RV pulling into the site across the street.  The RV's bug me.  Not that tailgate camping makes me any kind of man's man, but if you need a TV and air conditioning while travelling?  Why not just stay at a hotel, instead of dragging a 7 mile per gallon behemoth up to Chilhowee?

Anyway.  The campsites share community water spigots.  I couldn't guess how many are around, but I figure for the 25 or 30 sites, there's probably one spigot for every four to six sites.  The spigot across the street from our site we shared with three or four sites.  The RV folks, with tags right from God's Waiting Room, hooked the RV's water hose up to the spigot.

Multiple times, we and the other campers near us had to ask to unhook the water.  This morning?  We just unhooked ourselves.  I have a funny feeling we did it right in the middle of somebody's shower....

Gonna be an interesting couple of weeks at work.  I've been having a difficult time with the job.  The aforementioned problems getting to me, on top of a work schedule that makes me want to go back to 2007 and explain just what "working like a botard" means.  Currently scheduled 11 out of the next 12 day, but there's a light called vacation at the end of this particular tunnel.

Anyway.  It was a good weekend.  I'm gonna make a conscious effort to stop moping about the little shit.  A good weekend like this one made me realize just how lucky a fellow I am.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tommy's Mindlessly Stupid Project, volume 3

In which I continue my alphabetical journey through my movie shelf.

I'm averaging between 30 and 45 minutes a day per movie, which means each one lasts between two and four days.  Aside from the occasional movie that I've found or made time to watch from start to finish, this little project (which has been going since around Memorial Day), might take me up past Independence Day 2015....

Big Fish   (2003, D: Burton)

I've got something of a love-hate relationship with the movie.  It's almost a Liberty Valance issue....whether the value of the story has more importance than the value of the truth.  Maybe a bit of a personal struggle coming to life there.  That, and Burton's seeming daddy fixation coming to life, sometimes makes this a difficult movie to watch.  It just depends on the day I watch, I suppose.  Didn't care for it this time around.

The Big Lebowski    (1998, D: Coen)

It's up high on the list of favorite movies.  Had to sit and watch this one, because there's so much that sucks me in.  Walter's energy is still my favorite.  The machinations, with The Dude, at the center.  The tumbleweed vibe.  The check at Ralph's.  Yes.  Too much not to like....

Big Trouble   (2002, D: Sonnenfield)

A little bit of a guilty pleasure, I guess.  Dave Barry managed to write a more Carl Hiassen-esque novel than Carl Hiassen.  The movie's a fair adaptation.  Good?  Zooey Deschanel, Patrick Warburton, Jeanine Garofolo, Dennis Farina, Johnny Knoxville, Tom Sizemore and especially Andy Richter's brief appearances.  Bad?  Tim Allen.  Man, I hate me some Tim Allen.  Still, the movie itself is zany enough.  It's one that pops up on Comedy Central or the like every now and then.  It makes me smile.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I wrote some

I wrote a little tonight.  Mostly about that thing.

Didn't turn out well, but at least I wrote.  I'm a Lazy bastard.

Been bumming about work, lately.  Not enjoying the job.  Again.  Too little work/life balance.  Not getting to do stuff outside of work.  Missed the summer trivia finals.  Didn't hit a Braves game all year, because it was too hard to string a couple days off in a row, or even snag a Sunday off.  Timing was part of it.  How the fuck did they manage to be on the road for all but a couple days of vacations I took during baseball season?

But I digress.

Not getting to see friends and family.  Sucks to have my sister ask about several weekends for camping trips with her and my nephew, and having to shoot them all down because I'm working.  The one I have free?  They're busy.

Being a grownup sucks.


I wrote a bit.

I'd like to write more.

I'd like to find a position with a more regular set of hours, to set myself up a routine.

That might be a cop out, my brain says.

It might not be, my other brain says.

I have two brains.

Or, I have a kidney that thinks a little much of itself, and thinks it's capable of doing more than helping filter and flush toxins from my body.

Anyway.  I wrote.

Here's what I listened to:

"Sara"             Fleetwood Mac
"Birdplane"        Axis of Awesome
"You Put the Hurt on Me"     Sara and the Tall Boys
"House Where Nobody Lives"      Tom Waits
"I'm Free"        The Who
"America's Dreaming"      Old Man Markley
"The Revolution Starts Now"      The Mahones
"Counting"  Jherek Bischoff, featuring Carla Bozulich
"Karmageddon"      Hank Williams III
"Jump Around"       House of Pain
"If  You Know What's Good For You"      Dale Watson
"The Transformers Theme"       White Lion
"The Americans"         John Mellencamp
"Dying of Another Broken Heart"          Lindi Ortega

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tommy's Mindlessly Stupid Project, volume 2

You can read here part one of my little project, where I wind my way through my movie shelves as I get ready in the mornings, and go to bed at night, with occasional pauses to sit and truly enjoy what I've got on my shelves.

The rules?  Running alphabetically through my movie collection.  No pausing to fret about what's next.  Just pick up the movie, and go on.  With a small handful of exceptions in my collection (gifts, etc) I've picked out every one of the movies on my shelves.  Why I'd hem and haw over what to watch is quite the vexing bit of personal bullshit.

Anyway.  Thoughts concerning what I've watched:

Armageddon  (1998, D: Bay)

I'm the douchebag, by the way, who undermines his own system of alphabetical organization by keeping the few Criterion Collection discs he owns on their own shelf.  I'd originally planned to include those at the end, because the bulk of them will take their own viewings on the good TV, and not be simply background noise as I get ready.  Part of this is logistical...if it's a foreign language flick, it doesn't key to my ear well.  Part of it is that some flicks just deserve the attention.  Anyway, I watched this one out of alphabetical order...I'll try to keep up with the Criterion stuff as well as I can....

That said, I'm not going to argue that Armageddon is a great flick, though there's part of me that acknowledges the argument about all key characters being introduced and fleshed out early on.  Beyond that, all logical parts of my brain say that this is the stupidest movie ever, and very much one to point at as not only what's wrong with movies in general, but America as well.  Still, I'm not sold that Armageddon's a bad flick.  It's a fun flick, and a very pretty one.   It's not without its verbal charm:  I still think that Billy Bob Thornton walks around his house saying "it's what we call a global killer...."

Back to the Future  (1985, D: Zemeckis)

I generally pull this one out once a year, or so.  It came out when I was 8, and out on video right about the time we got a VCR when I was growing up.  We taped it off HBO (I believe).  This one's gotta rank up there with the Star Wars movies, Ghostbusters and Batman with movies I've seen most.

I've always thought about what a mindfuck the whole bit's gotta be for Marty, but we never see the biggest mindfuck of all.  If you can overlook the bit where Marty returns to a different 1985 than he left, and that there stands a good argument that there might be another Marty floating around at the end of Back to the Future 1, you have to ask yourself how many different things would have happened to the Marty of the new time line, where George McFly decked Biff, that original Marty would have no memory of.  Maybe Marty and his brother and sister were destined to be, if George and Lorraine got together.  But would all their life events be the same?  Hey Marty....remember when we went to Disneyland a couple years back?  What are you talking about....I've never been to Disney....

Back to the Future 2    (1989, D: Zemeckis)

Back to the Future 2 and 3 might have been my Dad's and my first joint fanboy experience...we both wanted these movies to be so awesome.  And you know what?  even 25 years later, I'm satisfied with the outcome.

It also contains my favorite sequence...Biff's dark 1985? That shit is awesome!  The bit where Marty ends up on former principal Strickland's porch, and they mention that schools aren't part of the Hill Valley agenda gets me thinking that Biff may be a little bigger than Hill Valley.  How do you circumvent county, state and national schooling agendas?  Biff money.  That's how.

Also, Lorraine's big fake dark Biff cleavage is still the favorite of 12-year-old Tommy.

Back to the Future 3    (1990, D: Zemeckis)

Okay.  This only started bugging me a few years ago.  So, Seamus and Maggie McFly are George McFly's great grandparents (William, is called Marty's great-grandpa, so William would be George's grandfather).  The McFly name follows that line down to Marty, so it stands to some reason that Marty might look like Seamus.

Why does Lorraine look like Maggie?  She's not descended from the McFlys.  Or is she?

Recent investigations into my family history have revealed that my great grandparents William and Florida were second cousins.  I guess it's not all that odd, or implausible.  Just something that pops into my mind, now any time I see Lea Thompson as Maggie in this flick....

Also of note:  Dub Taylor makes Tommy's Movie Shelf Appearance #2 in this flick....

Batman   (1989, D: Burton)

I could write and write and write about the 1989 Batman.  I can tell you where I was when I saw this flick the first time (the 1:15 show at the Plaza Twin on Saturday, June 24 with my friend folks wouldn't take me out to the much ballyhooed June 23 friend Nigel went and I was jealous).  I could tell you that I saw this movie five times in the theater, that summer (if you include a viewing at the Swingin' Midway Drive-In).  This was the first pre-recorded VHS tapes that my family ever owned.  Everything else, up until then, was rentals or stuff taped off TV.  This might be the only movie that I burnt myself out on.

I love Batman.  Still.  Have since the fifth grade, or so.  So, this movie was Big Shit for me.  Watched it at least once a week for a couple of years.  And once a month after that, for a long time, all the way up into college.

I hit a point, though. Don't know.  Maybe when you memorize a flick.  I honestly went seven or eight years between viewings.  It wasn't until I picked up the DVD.

You know what?  It's still solid, for what it is.  I feel like, even in 1989, that DC was at a loss for what a millionaire playboy was, but I still like Keaton's Bruce Wayne best.

Batman Begins   (2005, D: Nolan)

I remember looking forward to this flick when it came out, but being dubious about the Christian Bale casting.  In fact, I am still dubious about the Christian Bale casting.

Batman Begins isn't a bad flick.  In fact, it's a pretty fucking good flick, perhaps better put together and truer to the mythos than any of Nolan's later works.  It touches on a lot of the same bits that made Frank Miller's Year One and Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale's Long Halloween work so well for me.  It's just a more solidly put together movie than its sequels, too. (Dark Knight Rises doesn't hold up, and later viewings of Dark Knight make me realize how much Joker's villainy holds that flick together).

The Ken Watanabe/Liam Neeson Ra's al Ghul okey doke is pretty cool.  And I like watching Cillian Murphy wallow around as Scarecrow.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm    (1993, D: Timm, et al).

For many years, this was my favorite Batman flick.  It's the one that hit both Batman and Joker as close to the versions in my head as possible, and it's still the case with Batman.

Mark Hamill doesn't get enough credit for his work as the Joker.  Just an all around good flick, one that I'm glad actually got a big screen showing...

Batman: the Movie    (1966, D: Martinson)

There was a period where I just ATE that 60's Batman show up.  Then, I denied its existence.  I've only recently wandered back to the way of thinking that allowed me to enjoy the show.  What goofy fucking fun.  The bit with Batman trying to get rid of the bomb?  That's funny, funny stuff.

Baxter     (1989, D: Boivin)

This is a good movie to watch when you're down on humanity, on the whole.  Which I have been, lately.

Beerfest    (2006, D: Chandrasekhar)

You know, Super Troopers was a home run for the Broken Lizard guys, and I call Club Dread a solid triple.  Beerfest?  Meh.  Bloop hit?

Really didn't think much of it with this viewing.  Jurgen Prochnow is probably the best part of the movie.  This one's probably going to get traded in the next time I cull the shelves.

Beetlejuice    (1988, D: Burton)

Just a fun flick.  Michael Keaton, Geena Davis and Catherine O'Hara are all favorites.  Big.  Loud.  Whimsical.  Dark.  Right up my alley.

Best in Show   (2000, D: Guest)

This one makes me think of my buddy Steven, if only for the fact that we did Harlan Pepper's nut-naming routine for years.  His and Janet's attachment to the dog show scene, despite being such a big part of their lives, somehow seems secondary to that one throwaway bit.

As Guest movies go, this one ranks after Waiting for Guffman, and probably after A Mighty Wind, despite the characterizations ringing more familiar to me than either of those previous two.  All I can think of is that one joke about Eugene Levy's character having two left feet...I don't know why I hate the bit, but it ruins a good bit of the movie altogether.  And somehow, Michael McKean and John Michael Higgins just bug me in their roles.

Still, definite charms.  The left foot joke notwithstanding, I love Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara, and the bit with the credit card decline at the hotel front desk is somehow endearing.  Jane Lynch hits the nail on the head (as she almost always does), and I really enjoy Christopher Guest as Harlan Pepper...

Best of the Best    (1989, D: Radler)

This is the best bad karate movie ever.  I once joked that it starred the less talented siblings of both Sean Penn and Julia Roberts, though I'm just not sure that's the case on either count.  Not that I think either Chris Penn or Eric Roberts are any great shakes...I'm just no longer convinced Sean or Julia are the shit, either.

I love this movie.  Despite everything.  It's a horrible movie.  But I love it.  Especially the slo mo shots.  Especially when Sonny has to inform everybody that he's Italian.  Multiple times.

Do they coat Eric Roberts in a layer of slurm before each shot?  A double coating for fight scenes?

I love when Chris Penn, as Travis Brickley, yells "Drop him like a toilet seat."


Beyond the Mat    (1999, D: Blaustein).

Barry Blaustein's love letter to pro wrestling.  I hadn't watched this one in years.  It made me late for work watching Terry Funk's retirement section.  Made me sad and a little mad at myself watching Mick Foley get destroyed by the Rock.

This flick was the genesis of my bias against The Rock.  It's unfair, perhaps, to make a judgment based on one event and one perceived lack of caring as it involved both Mick's safety while taking chairshots, and lack of concern afterward.  Watching this made me realize how slanted against The Rock that shot was.  Blaustein goes out of his way to make Mick Foley a teddy bear.  It's an easy stance, because Mick seems like a hell of a good guy.  Maybe it showed a bit of truth, but it wasn't the best basis of judgment on my part, against the Rock, anyway....

I guess what I'm trying to say is:  I'm sorry Rocky.

Anyway.  Jake Roberts' section is still a kick in the gut.  Jake's wavered, and is currently supposedly on a path of the good right now, thanks to Dallas Page and others.  Based on everything this movie presents, and all the news after?  I'd never have guess Jake would have made it to 2014.....


Taking a break writing, now.  I need to get my ass in gear writing, though.  I'm all the way up to Cold Mountain....

Thursday, September 11, 2014


The reason we were attacked, the reason these people are dead....they weren't doing anything wrong, they were living their lives, they were going to work, they were traveling, they were doing what they normally do.  As I understand it, and my understanding of this is vague at best, another smaller group of people stole some airplanes and crashed them into buildings.  We're told they were zealots fueled by religious fervor...religious fervor.  And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any God damn sense?  ---David Letterman

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

I (might) have the Kingslayer blood in me....

A bit of cross posting....this was a review of Susan Fern's The Man Who Killed Richard III over on

When I heard about the discovery of Richard III's remains under a parking lot, I thought it was an interesting story, but didn't give it a great deal of thought.

Then, earlier this year, after reading John Ehle's Trail of Tears, I started digging around my own family history. My maternal grandmother's family, the Reece Family, had the same name as a chief mentioned in Ehle's work. My Mom had a family history she'd worked on, but had run into a couple roadblocks which led to gaps into our knowledge.

Well, I joined up on Played around. A lot of fine work has been done, and to those people, I owe a tremendous debt.  I discovered that my line of the Reece/Reese family wasn't descended from the chief mentioned in Trail of Tears. We may have been related, but I didn't come from him, at any rate. My Reece/Reese family game to Polk County, Tennessee by way of Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and, as far back as I can see, Wales.

(Let me add here....working on is a mixed bag...there's a lot of good work done there, but there are also places where there's a leap of faith being made based on family tree info, rather than there being a concrete paper trail, and along a couple of other family lines, there are places where the math just doesn't work.  So, you have to be careful.  I take it with a grain of salt, and it might not be wise to take it as gospel.  That said, the work done along the Reece/Reese/Rhys line seems solid, and has multiple sources).

I went digging to see how far back I could go. I was impressed with the work of folks on the other side of the pond, who'd traced the family history back until before the year 1200. In my zeal to see just how far back the family name went, I didn't preform my due diligence to see just who these grandfathers were.

I'll admit to getting sidetracked by finding out that another great (x13) grandfather was the man who founded Pennsylvania.

It wasn't until early in August that I started reading to see who exactly these people were.

Well, Rhys ap Thomas is my great (x19) grandfather. And this book tells his story, as well as presenting evidence that he was the man who slew King Richard III. Interesting work, including Rhys's place in the reign of Henry VII, and his family's role in the life and reign of Henry VIII.  

The book itself is a quick, dry read with a lot of information packed within. I'll be going back to it in the future....

Thursday, August 21, 2014

10+ Favorite Simpsons Episodes

I was happier than I perhaps should have been about realizing I do indeed get FXX on my Cable system.  Tomorrow begins the massive marathon showing of every Simpsons episode ever.

I was a fan.  Still am, I reckon, though it's been at least five years since I've watched regularly, and probably more.  The show stopped being appointment television somewhere around season 10, truthfully, and stopped being DVR worthy somewhere around season 14 or 15.  (And yeah, I kept watching out of some odd loyalty even after that).

It's hard to say what's changed, necessarily.  Different writers, mostly.  A lack of understanding behind the keys to Homer's humor (the transition from mostly well-intentioned oaf to just a jerkass) and a need to give way to the cutaway style of Family Guy (hey, we'll mention an odd concept, and then show said ridiculous concept in action immediately after since your Mountain Dew reduced attention span can't remember a concept...).

Your best bet for the Simpsons marathon will likely come in the first three or four days of the marathon.  Still, there's interesting stuff here and there beyond....

So, in alphabetical order, my top 10+ favorite Simpsons episodes:

22 Short Films About Springfield, Season 7, 4/14/1996

Seymour!  The house is on fire!
No, Mother.  It's just the Northern Lights.

And Maggie Makes Three, Season 6, Original Airdate 1/22/1995

Winter/Spring 1995 was a good one for Simpsons.  This is one of Homer's best, and I think best exemplifies who he is.  Best Gag:  Homer drumming up business for the bowling alley.  I suggest copying his idea for my store at least twice a year....

Bart gets an Elephant, Season 5, Original Airdate 3/31/1994

Another well quoted episode.  Homer's cruelty speech.  First appearance of Cletus.  I love that.  Reminds me of elephants....

Bart vs. Australia, Season 6, Original Airdate 2/19/1995

This one is the opposite of Family Guy humor.  A lot of okeydoke misdirection.  Again, didn't realize the air mattress gag referenced something else until reading bill Bryson's book on Australia...

The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson,  Season 9,  Original Airdate 9/21/1997

This one grew on me.  I think it was Homer's homemade car that put this one over the top.

Homer at the Bat, Season 3, Original Airdate 2/20/1992

Baseball and the Simpsons.  The favorite wavers, but this might be my favorite episode at the moment.

Homer's Barbershop Quartet, Season 5, Original Airdate 9/30/1993

I still sing songs from this episode.  And Barney's toothpick gag still gets a laugh.  Every time.

Homer's Enemy, Season 8, Original Airdate 5/4/1997

I like this one because I've been in both Homer's and Grimey's shoes.  Homer's power plant model is a thing of beauty, too.

Homer Goes to College, Season 5, Original Airdate 10/14/1993

Damn.  I was 16 when this one came on.  I've used Homer's description of hiding under a pile of coats to describe a co-worker or two....

Homie the Clown, Season 6   Original Airdate 2/12/1995

I think this might be the episode I quote most for the line:  those pants were supposed to be baggy!  That, and the Joe Valachi gag, which I didn't realize was a real thing until much later....

Hungry, Hungry Homer, Season 12, Original Airdate 3/4/01

Dancing away my hunger pangs...

Marge vs. the Monorail, Season 4, Original Airdate 1/14/1993

Another one that gets me singing.  Leonard Nimoy.  I call the big one Bitey.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Had to delete a post where I was not clear about a point in Ferguson, and it sounded like I was defending the actions of the police.  I'd like that clear:  I'm not at all condoning the killing of an unarmed person.  That's wrong, and to my mind there needs to be accountability there.  My point was that both sides of the argument have some right, and a lot wrong in this situation.  And there needs to be a lot of accountability on both sides. With the community, and with the police.  Absolutely.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The listens, this day, 13 August 2014

If you'll forgive my saying so, it's a fucking beautiful morning in my little corner of East Tennessee.  It's my first day off in a week.  I took advantage of the morning to take a walk.  I'd intended to start the Jeff Shaara Civil War book I'd downloaded off Audible (takes place in and around Chattanooga), but instead popped on the music.  It was a good walk:

"Love Roller Coaster"        Red Hot Chili Peppers
"15 Million Light Years Away"       Shooter Jennings
"Maxine"      The Traveling Wilburys
"Say It Ain't So"      Weezer
"In the Hearts of Men"        First Aid Kit
"Hide Me"         Hayes Carll
"Radio Gaga"      Queen
"Holy Roller (Hallelujah)     Portugal, the Man
"the Organ Donor's March"       Kim Boekbinder
"Put Down that Weapon"      Midnight Oil
"Under African Skies"     Paul Simon
"Wilting Flower"       Ten Bartram
"Play the Game"      Queen