Movie Diary – December 2018

Some people like to belittle the world of franchise films and wonder why movies are constantly expanding universes and sequels and I’m here to tell you it is because of ME because I saw 4 movies this month and they all ruled and all were part of massive franchises. So, in the order I saw them…

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
I’ll save you from scrolling too far south on this post: This was the best movie I saw this month. I took my kids, knowing this was going to be a better Spider-Man adventure than Infinity War. My big gripe with IW is of course that (spoilers!) Spider-Man dies. I figured this would be a better outing for my 7 year old son who loves Spider-Man. Imagine my shock when (spoilers again!) Spider-Man dies in this movie too, in the first act.
But while that was bad, it set up for all these other Spiders to replace him. And it is FUNNY. It is a PG family movie that has action and adventure and is really funny. I adored The Incredibles and its sequel and I am so happy that a very different family super hero movie can join those ranks as a go-to movie for Saturday nights on the couch.
Into the Spider-Verse is visually unlike any other movie I’ve seen. It emulates not just a hand drawn style, but the coloring mimics comic book publishing specifically, even if that kind of coloring wasn’t in use when Miles Morales was first introduced to the world.
When it was over, my son was asking about Miles and my daughter was asking about Gwen, and it seems like there is a Spidey for everyone. Of course a day later all they talked about was Spider-Ham, but they are kids.

Once Upon a Deadpool
I missed Deadpool 2 the first time around so I jumped at the chance to see it in a way that would differ from a home viewing. The bit with Fred Savage added is a clever framing device for the PG13 edit, but I have to tell you, this still behaves like a very R rated movie. A few *bleeped* F-words and probably some sexual situations subtracted doesn’t make this “family friendly” at all. I’m open to seeing the original cut of the movie now, but kinda hope they double dip for this version on home video too since it was so funny.
Added bonus: added tributes to Stan Lee. The grafitti wall art of Lee was in the original cut, but the new version has an “R.I.P.” added next to his smiling face. Post credits also includes outtakes from Lee’s cameo in the Deadpool 2 teaser trailer.

I swore I wouldn’t pay to see another Transformers movie. Each of the live action entries has been worse than the one before it. I wanted the movies to end either go away or be rebooted. Then Bumblebee. New director, new cast, new style. There is so much going for it. And it worked. I loved it. The opening scene is a high budget CG animation of something we would have seen in the 1986 movie. Decepticons corner the Autbots on Cybertron, forcing them to escape. While this is cool to watch, it also directly contradicts stuff from the previous movies. And as the movie continues, it is a course correction. Bee loses his voice, becomes the VW beetle, and so on, but every time they could lose a convention from the Michael Bay movies, they did. The movie plays like a remake of The Iron Giant, but given how that shapes the tone of the movie and forces it away from Bay’s perversions, I’m fine with that.
Judging by how much has changed in the last six months or so with the movie, it would not shock me if this is the reboot I was hoping for. I liked the 2007 movie, it is imperfect but has some heart and does things we never saw before. If this was the movie we got in 2007, we’d be a lot better off. It now looks like Bumblebee is the “First Class” of this franchise, setting up a new series without the last few lousy entries.


Its true. We go a PG-13 Deadpool movie. We got the BEST Spider-Man movie from a Sony animation studio. We got a great Transformers movie with no weird sexual stuff. It is a month of miracles.
The biggest miracle of them all is Aquaman. This movie had no business being this fun. Three years ago we saw Jason Momoa holding his breath under water in cell phone footage in Batman V Superman, and I never would have guess that a spin off would spin this far off.
As you know, I liked Justice League, but even I wouldn’t have cited Aquaman as a highlight. He has become kind of a joke with the “My Man!” stuff and the weird lens Snyder and DC cast him through, as a kind of drunk and surly bruiser. By the time Justice League finally came out and under-performed, they were knee deep in making Aquaman a movie and I have no idea what happened. It is as if no one told anyone here that something cost too much or was too big or too wet or needed to be more like whatever other movie in the DC Murderverse. James Wan guided Furious 7 into massive success despite losing the star during filming. It would seem this made him the perfect choice for Aquaman.
This movie is HUGE. Everything is big. At times it is like Star Wars underwater. Then it becomes James Bond. Yeah, theres a little Thor and Wonder Woman in there too. But none of those movies achieve the scale Aquaman moves comfortably in. The movie is constantly establishing rules and customs and devices and to my mind no thread is ever dropped. While the plot is no more or less simple than the average hero movie, it is so dense with activity. And on screen there is what you expect with some big fights and vehicle chases, but I was shocked how much appeared to be practical. Infinity War put Spider-Man and Iron Man and others in all CG suits, and it is kinda off putting watching their unmasked head float above the costumes in some scenes. This movie’s underwater storm troopers have real suits and you can see the difference on screen when they fight or run through a wall or even just walk into a room. Mo-cap an actor wearing nothing but a skin tight suit and they movie different from an actor wearing a suit or armor.
This is the DC Universe with their Iron Man moment. A movie no one expected to be good and a hero with no real big fan base. With Superman and Batman kind of off the table for WB at the moment, they’re forced to try to make the very best movies they can with who they have. Please, a Mera movie next. Then Aquaman 2. Then a Brine King movie. Do not stop.

November 10

doing soundcheck

I had a great time serving a happy couple on November 10.  It was a Game of Thrones themed wedding, and you can see some of the amazing pictures here. The couple thought it was really important to hire a ‘geek’ DJ and I hope I fit the bill.  In addition to the usual dance staples, I also tossed in a few of the movie and video game remixes I’ve accumulated over the years.
I was really happy to throw in a track from a young hungry producer Exightly into the mix.  Highly recommend checking out their tune “Western Plastic”

Now I’m ready for the next show.  Hit up the contact link at the top of my page or visit my facebook to let me know what you need for your next event! 

Definitive List of Best Movies featuring Batman

This started as a list, but felt I needed to justify the choices a bit more. Averted the normal “countdown” clickbait style, I’m putting the best at the top. Please note I’ve excluded all animated entries as those would require a LOT more effort to rank.

1: The Dark Knight (2008)
Almost a decade after release, the definitive comic book adaptation still looms over everything since. An argument can be made for the rise of Marvel, which launched Iron Man the same summer, but some of that cultural impact seems to be by sheer force of marketing. The Dark Knight had a consistent tone and (gravelly)voice and created a very lived in world. And unlike a lot of movies on this list, bizarre choices and winks to the camera are almost nonexistent. I barely have to mention Ledger’s award winning Joker performance, which has (for better or worse?) ruined the character for all other interpretations in the 9 years since.

2: Batman (1989)

Some might make a strong case for nostalgia and they’d be right, but that doesn’t dim the achievement made here. Tim Burton’s weird gothic style, Michael Keaton’s eccentric performance, Elfman’s playfully bombastic score, Nicholson’s manic Joker… all this AND Robert Wuhl! This was the VHS tape to have in 1990 and I could recite every line from the movie as well as the Diet Coke and Warner Bros catalog ad that preceded it. Get nuts, wonderful toys, etc. Very few movies from 3 decades ago actually age well, but the manic energy created by the sets, music, and performances make this one easy to revisit.

3: Justice League (2017)
What good is a list like this without a boiling hot take inserted? Justice League is GOOD. It is fun and action packed in exactly the way it need to be. I really enjoyed all characters they introduced as they forced some levity into the movie more naturally than Batman himself changing on his own. There are some shortcomings that are not the movie’s fault: the unbalanced first half as they assemble is more a series of events than a plot. But once the team is together and (spoiler) Superman is back, then it feels like the movie I waited my whole life to see. Since this is a Bat-centric list, I’m glad they found a new take for the character on screen: the grizzled veteran who think he knows best but really needs to listen to cooler calmer heads. I want at least 3 or 4 Justice League movies and would be fine with them cancelling all the solo movies to do it.

4: Batman Begins (2005)
The Batman origin is well worn by this point and the sort of pop culture knowledge just about everyone has. But if you wan the definitive version, the one to show people who maybe don’t know who or what Batman is about, this is it. The logical leap required to go from seeing his parents’ murder to dressing up as a Bat is a pretty big one and Nolan’s first Batman movie does an admirable job of making sense of it. It is the least “comic booky” one on the list as well, addressing none of the more fantastical elements of the Batman canon, in spite of the primary adversary being an immortal cult leader.

5: Batman Returns (1992)
If “Begins” is notable for being the one that established an definitive Batman and adhering to canon whenever possible, Batman Returns is notable for not making any attempt at all to be a Batman movie. It is a Tim Burton movie with Batman in it. Despite the joker being dispatched in the previous film, Batman spends most of the movie fighting clowns aligned with Penguin. Catwoman has some undefinied supernatural quality and Christopher Walken is there being Christoper Walken. I haven’t watched it in a while I admit, but it deserves a spot in the top 5 for being so odd.

6: Batman: The Movie (1966)
Speaking of canon, there was a time when the dark tortured gritty Batman didn’t exist. This was the Batman I grew up on, with reruns on WTTG in the early 80s. While campy and zany, it was consistent with the TV series before it. It also features more classic Batman characters than any other movie on this list. It is less essential to the modern Batman but still a fun watch so I balance that by placing it at the middle of the pack.

7: Batman Forever (1995)
While not outright bad, Forever has a lot to answer to and doesn’t have much to say. Kind of a soft reboot from the weird “Returns” It recasts Batman with Val Kilmer, gets a really slow Batmobile, and turns Gotham into a neon hellscape. Jim Carrey was well cast as Riddler, though Tommy Lee Jones trying to match his energy makes Two Face a little off brand. The 90’s Batman series really put more emphasis on the bad guys than the good and it really shows here.

8/9 TIE: The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Batman v Superman (2016)
With a cinematic history as varied as Batman, it can be hard to determine what is best, but I have equal trouble deciding what doesn’t work. The final act of the Christian Bale Batman trilogy is a natural progression story wise from the first part. There are many callbacks to that first chapter linking the stories. The problem is there is almost nothing learned going into the final act. It falls into the old sequel trope of raising the stakes and raising the threat level to a laughable level. Bane should be intimidating but that voice. But it is truly the act of a blank check director. WB does not reign in Nolan at all, they let him do what he wants to do, and so I’ll give him credit for making a bold movie and sticking to it even if a lot of us were not along for the ride.
Zack Snyder also took us for a ride in BvS. I liked Man of Steel quite a bit. It was a different, and while I don’t think Snyder is as good a director as Nolan, he has a style and method and voice and that is important. I’ve joked that the Marvel movies with few exceptions could have all been directed by the same person and I’d never know because they all look and feel the same. There is no mistaking this is a Snyder movie. And it is peppered with lots of really weird choices. If you just had Luthor, or just had murder Batman, or just had the nightmare, or just had Doomsday, or just MARTHA, it might have been easier to swallow. But by the time we get to the end I’m still reeling from the the beginning and it all feels like a blur. Its why the “ulitmate edition” that clocks in at over 3 hours is better, it actually gives you a chance to breathe.
Thats why this is a tie. Because Dark Knight Rises gets worse the longer you linger on it, BvS gets better the more you watch it. But I can’t say that either is an outright good movie.

10: Batman & Robin (1997)
Apology time. I’ve never actually sat down and watched this movie start to finish. But nothing I’ve seen has lead me to believe I’ve missed anything. To date this is the only major Batman movie released in my lifetime I didn’t see in a theater. It is amazing that George Clooney managed to go on to be one of the biggest stars in the world after this.

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TV Diary

New Girl
How I Met Your Mother, The Office, Parks & Rec. These are all sitcoms that aside from being funny I became emotionally invested in the characters and their happiness. All three went one one or two seasons TOO LONG. For the sake of New Girl, I hope this was it. It was a neat bow. They all have better jobs, they’re all in relationships, they’re all moving out of the loft. Would’ve been nice to get a Coach cameo, but otherwise this was just right and didn’t over stay its welcome.

Louis CK – 2017
I own a copy of Pootie Tang on DVD and feel like that should automatically give me some cred as a Louis CK fan from back before his more recent run as the most important an respected comic of our time blah blah. He opens with bits about abortion and suicide, immediately trying to test how much he can really get away with since the bits themselves aren’t that funny and just more about shock. There is some gold in there though, stuff that had me rolling with laughter in the second half so it is still worth a watch.

Dave Chappelle – Deep in The Heart of Texas / Age of Spin
While Louis is a comic I’ve seen many hours of in the last decade, Chappelle is another story. Killing Them Softly ran on HBO constantly around the turn of the century and I watched it a lot, even had a bootleg CD of it that I played in the car for years. Chappelle does have some problematic humor. Observations on race and class are as sharp as ever, especially now that he acknowledges his status as a superstar after his sketch series. But jokes about women, gays, and trans feel decidedly late 90s. Even when something lands well like “It takes a while” its wrapped in phrasing that shows he clearly doesn’t quite get it. Still jokes about Kevin Hart charging more for tickets than he does or Key & Peele stealing his show betray his secret reasons for finally coming out of seclusion: he’s jealous and wants the spotlight back.

Arrested Development
I’m pretty late to the party on this, but Dawn and I rewatched the first 3 seasons with the intent on finally seeing the 4th recently.
Not only is there a noticeable decline in quality in the 3rd season but the 4th Netflix only season is a real dog. I’m not intending to finish it. See New Girl above: stop while you’re ahead.

Came up in the suggested list on Netflix and I didn’t know anything about it and we watched all 22 episodes over the course of 5 days. Pretty good! I’m always interested when the star of the show is also the creator, because I wonder if any of this is fulfilling some crazy fantasy on his part. And sure enough he has quite a lot of sex with women way out of his league starting with AT&T pitch woman and @Midnight champ Milana Vayntrub and ending with Community alum Gillian Jacobs. This is all for art right? The show does produce some pretty good laughs along the way, I’ll stick around if they make more.

Movie Diary

Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them
I’m a real latecomer to the Harry Potter thing. I was aware of the series for most of the 2000s of course, but didn’t see any of the movies (still haven’t read the books) until 2010 right before the last one came out. Dawn and I marathoned the series on Netflix (Discs by mail!)and then saw the final installment of Deathly Hallows when it reached theaters. I have afoundation of the series without being a super fan. I didn’t know what to expect from Fantastic Beasts. It is a very interesting film with more than a few strange choices. Firstly, the lead role played by Eddie Redmayne is really strange. He’s so socially awkwards, mumbles most lines and rarely looks other characters in the eye while speaking directly to them. Dan Fogler is unrecognizable but is also putting on a great character performance. I’ll admit to not being very familiar with most of the other actors but they were all similar shades of awkward. Kinda neat for a movie that is supposed to be a huge studio action film with kid appeal.

Held on the DVR for about 3 or 4 months. Finally watched it and wasn’t disappointed. A fitting tribute to George Michael.

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Ok so when Indy is running from the natives in the opening scene, he’s left behind a small crew dead in the expedition. Then he gets in a single engine plane with one seat. What the hell was going to happen to all those other guys? Was he counting on them getting killed? Otherwise, this movie holds up.

Lego Batman
I’ve seen The Lego Movie a hundred times. Kids love it. I was hot to see this one before it came out then the reviews were great too, so we finally made it out a couple weeks ago. It almost plays like an official parody of Batman movies. The weird Tom Hardy Bane voice coming out of the comic looking Bane was pretty great.

Batman v Superman
OK so Superman arrives at congress to face questions and Bruce Wayne is watching on TV and asks whats the deal with the former employee who is also appearing. He sees the returned checks, he sees the bomb go off and while I can appreciate it might be hard to directly connect this entire thing to Lex Luthor is should be clear to HIM that there is a conspiracy to frame Superman. One so great it will put him in the US Capitol building with a bomb and kill hundreds. Why the hell does he continue to pursue his insane plan to stab Superman to death? Shouldn’t the world’s greatest detective go deeper at this point?

Great Wall
My dad had a brush with death 2 months ago. Trapped in a hospital bed watching network TV as he recovered, we saw a lot of ads for this Matt Damon bomb. We decided this movie had to be either so great or so stupid. As he got better, we went out for a weeknight screening at the nearest IMAX screen. I know it was an off peak time to see a movie in its 2nd or 3rd week of release but we were the ONLY people in an IMAX theater. The weird mix of fake history, science fiction, fantasy, and Matt Damon’s accent conspired to make a movie that defied rationality. Monsters from space that attack on an Earth clock! One Chinese warrior speaks perfect English! Bungee jumping with spears! Willem Dafoe! Emperor of China is played by some kid from a boy band! Fuckin’ magnets, how do they work? Never mind the white washing, the movie was shot and paid for by the Chinese and there is so much nationalism for a culture, society, and events that do exist it was difficult to comprehend. I’m not sure who this movie was for! It is barely on the edge of Mystery Science Theater 3000 level bad.

Doctor Strange

Warning: light spoilers for Doctor Strange

I’ve seen every single Marvel studios movie in theaters up until this point. Usually opening day! 18 years ago when this hero movie boom started I felt like it was really important to see them all as soon as possible so they’d keep making more. There was no guarantee that X-Men would be a hit. Also not playing favorites as I’ve seen all the DC movies that have come out during that same time.

Doctor Strange broke the trend. I wasn’t super excited in the first place and frankly I knew they’d bring him in to Avengers or Thor or whatever no matter what. So I skipped it. I got the Blu Ray on mail order on release day and still didn’t watch it right away (I made my next movie night X-Men Apocalypse, which warrants its own tear down honestly). I finally popped it in last night and decided Doctor Strange couldn’t be that bad, even if it wasn’t exciting me like an Iron Man or whatever.

doctor-strange-1The Marvel studios formula is in full effect here. Benedict Cumberbatch isn’t a bad actor (I’m not a huge fan) but making him deliver wisecracks like he’s Downey or Paul Rudd just did not work. There is a scene about half way in where his one liners fall completely flat when he’s talking to a character who refuses to laugh. At last I found a character I relate to! Really I wish that Strange was played more straight and maybe giving more of those comedy lines to other characters around him.

Also Doctor Strange has a black best friend! Maybe they can put him in a movie with Falcon and War Machine.

Rachel McAdams is wasted, but thats what you get with a woman in a Marvel movie. She does seem to be drinking from the same fountain of youth Elizabeth Banks found because she looks exactly the same as she did 15 years ago.

The score in most Marvel studios flicks is usually OK but nothing that jumps our like the Batman theme did back in 89. Michael Giacchino has done pretty great work in the past, I’m a fan going back to his days on ALIAS. The Doctor Strange theme is similar enough to his Enterprise theme from the Star Trek reboot it would be worthy of lawsuit if they hadn’t been the same composer. Theres lots of controversy about temp score and this seemed like a pretty clear indication that they used Trek’s score in editing.

But all that shit is window dressing. What really disappointed me was way back in 2011, they established there is no such thing as magic in the Marvel Universe. Thor presented technology from Asgard as being so advanced it is mistaken for magic, but it is all the same. Doctor Strange, a character who is steeped in magic, was always going to answer for this. And I thought they were going to! As The Ancient One describes the healing of spinal cord patient as being a re-writing of the cells’s ability to heal, it was a far fetched but consistent answer to the question that Jane Foster got from Thor. Even the travel through time and space was already established in Thor as being possible. I felt like this was a sensible way to obey the rules of their established universe. Then about a half hour later is “lol nope j/k, magic is real” when we find out the guy with a broken back still has a broken back, he’s just moving because he’s casting a spell on himself to be able to play basketball.

The fights have fun Matrix/Inception energy to them with the world tumbling around them constantly, so that was cool. Also not being familiar with the lore meant I was genuinely surprised with the heel turn in the post credits scene. But I think the end result is the least essential Marvel film yet.

Toy Shelves

I had a party (you weren’t invited) last week and it gave me a good reason to clean up my toy displays and make some adjustments.
Thanks to the decline in Disney Infinity, I went whole hog and bought about as many of these figures as I possibly could find. I’m still missing a few I’d like to get, but the two shelves I have now sport a complete Marvel and complete Star Wars collection. My toy vice has never been either of those properties, so this was a fun itch to scratch and while it is disappointing we won’t get any more of these figures (especially considering the leaks of near complete but unproduced figures) It is calming and comforting to know this collection is done and I’ll never have to buy another one. Plus if I ever decide to sell it a few years from now I’ll actually be able to get a few bucks for it. Maybe. Probably not. One of the reasons this line died is over production.

The risers were an inspired choice. This dark wood bookshelf I’ve had for a decade and was a cheapo pickup at Walmart. Since I’ve got so many figures under 6 inches it doesn’t make sense any more. I’ll replace it sooner or later, but these little shelves are supposed to be for kitchen cabinets for spices. I bought 2 sets of 2 and still have one of them in (which I’ll probably put in the spice cabinet). They’re cheap, about $17 for a set but allow the toys to sit a little higher. This is more pronounced in the Transformers shelf where I’ve got some figures that are 3-5 inches tall and others that 9-12.

IMG_5003Trying to find a theme for Transformers has been hard. About a year ago I decided I wanted to just try for (modern) figures of character from the 1986 animated movie. Additions like Devastator and the recent Galvatron help fill that out along with Bumblebee and Prime I’ve had for a decade.
So the lower shelf is a lot of characters from that movie. I tossed the 2000 DVD release on the back shelf between Prime and Galvatron to emphasize. Top shelf is a lot of bigger figures and some lineups from the comics. Clearly the combiners won’t fit on the lower shelf and Devastator, Menasor, and Superion were a big part of the Combiner Wars comic so they’re all up there. Bruticus isn’t a movie character OR a comics character but he’s the best of the combiner toys so he gets to stay. That white “Battle Core” Optimus Prime I’ll eventually get stickers to convert to a Nova Prime. Starscream is positioned center with Rattrap and Scoop, honoring what is perhaps the most bizarre re-writes of characters I’ve ever read.


I tossed together a play list and hit shuffle for this party. We made it one song before someone turned it off and put cartoons on for the kids. Oh well. I get excited for stupid shit like this and it kind of crushed me to not listen to music. I’ve got no where else to put this so, enjoy. I just did a quickie itunes -> spotify conversion so theres probably 30 tracks that won’t work, skip around.

Weekly Recap Wednesday 8/24/16

I just started this and already missed a week. And then I wrote this and forgot to post it for 3 days. WHOOPS.

Angry Birds
I took my kids to the cheap theater and we saw Angry Birds and enjoyed air conditioning for a low low rate of $1 an hour. Worth it. Angry Birds is not a movie I’d recommend to an adult. Sure, the game is still fun, there is a reason it broke out as big as it did. In the age of Pokémon Go it may seem out of step, but Angry Birds was proof you could have a good game on a touch screen that wasn’t a sloppy flash game or pad port. But I digress. The cast is incredible Jason Sudekis, Danny McBride, Josh Gad, Bill Hader, Kate McKinnon, Keegan Michael Key, Billy Eichner, Maya Rudolph, Hannibal Buress, and Peter Dinklage as the Eagle. This is a stupid talented cast. If this were a live action movie, it would be impossible to get bad performances from this many actors. But, its animated and the majority of the voices are stale and the writing is bland. The most remarkable event in the movie (spoiled for the trailer) is when the birds are swimming in a lake only to find the eagle uses it as a toilet. It is disgusting and stupid. My kids think pee is funny, so it was fine for them but depending on your tolerance for bathroom humor I wouldn’t bother.

Pixels also has Gad and Dinklage and also manages to underserve good comedic performers. Look, Adam Sandler isn’t who he used to be. I had higher hopes for Pixels. The thing is: It isn’t bad. It also isn’t good. It just is. The plot is silly, but no worse than Ghostbusters or Men In Black, which Pixels is clearly trying to emulate. Aliens invade Earth after intercepting a video of 80s arcade games and the 1980s champions have to save the world by beating Centipede, Galaga, Pac Man, etc. The special effects are great, the direction is solid, it just needed a couple re-writes from a funnier writer. The movie needed more jokes. There were long stretches of the movie where it wasn’t even TRYING to be funny. It is kinda weird. You either need to play the whole thing seriously or embrace how dumb it is, the movie opts to ignore both paths and simply have the cast play it mostly straight with a few smart remarks. A lot of wasted potential. Peter Dinklage is memorable as some kind of creepo version of Billy Mitchell, if only the other stars could have channeled that kind of eccentric energy.

Stranger Things
Trying hard not to be behind the curve here.
If you haven’t seen it, or heard of it, Stranger Things is a Netflix series about the disappearance of a young boy and the sudden appearance of a young girl all relating to… well I don’t want to spoil it. If you managed to avoid it so far, I encourage you to stop reading and enjoy. Especially if you like Stephen King, Spielberg, or play any kind of table top role playing game.

I appreciate that this show is 8 episodes and takes place over the course (mostly) over 8 days. It keep the show tight and focused and also doesn’t have to breach logic too often when you have events happening quickly to one character and they aren’t yet affecting others.
The child cast is electric, I could watch them all day. I would not be opposed to a second season to see them more.
But really the best part is the show doesn’t have it’s head up its ass about its own mythos. Granted, it is the first season, but there is literally no explanation for much of the events. Its great! We can speculate! We also were not bored by exposition. They did a lot of showing instead of telling.
Unresolved: Was Eleven created to get these powers? Are there a One through Ten? How did Dr. Brenner know she’d be able to reach another world? How did Will turn on the lights? Why did the monster kill Barb but spare Will? Where did the shotgun go? What did Will eat for 7 days in a parallel dimension? What caused Eleven and the monster (if they’re not the same thing) to escape in the first place? How did Jonathan know about The Smiths before they even released a single?
I hope we never get some of those answers. More fun to speculate. I do want another adventure and hope we get more Eleven as part of the deal.

“Crossed Wires” – Red Belt

Here is another tune for you to be ahead of the curve on. This literally has 15 views as I’m linking it. Straight forward rock song. Pretty cool.

Weekly Recap Wednesday – 8/10/16

I’m a guy who used to talk a ton of shit about video games and only after writing this week’s recap do I realize I have nothing to say about games this week. I don’t want to write about my Halo matches every week, so maybe next week.

Suicide Squad
It was a bold creative choice to introduce a Joker that wasn’t funny. I mean the basis for the character is he’s a psychopath who finds humor in murder and mayhem, but ever incarnation of the character has always been at least a little funny. I don’t think Jared Leto did a bad Joker at all. It was just a very different one. This one is some kind of modern gang leader, with the tattoos and the teeth and all the crap we’ve been looking at for a year. But he never gives us a line read anywhere close to Hammil (“You killed Captain Clown!”) Nicholson (“Where does he get those wonderful toys?”) or Ledger (“Do I look like a guy with a plan?”).

But that’s OK, because he’s not the star. Margot Robbie as Harley is pitch perfect. She’s the character off the page and out of the animation cell. Robbie is a bit young maybe to have been a former psychiatrist as the Harley character is supposed to be (she must have graduated and got her doctorate and then been turned to be Joker’s minion the following week). I’d maybe prefer a version of Harley more like the modern independent one, but this is her first live action appearance so we have to start somewhere. In the sequel or the solo movie she can kick Joker to the curb and go nuts in Coney Island.

Will Smith as Deadshot is another one people had doubts about, but I thought he was great as well. “White people that shit” is a line only a black actor could deliver and it gave Deadshot some depth of character we wouldn’t get with a white actor. I’m a Will Smith fan for life. He doesn’t always make the best movies, but he’s always the best thing in his movies.

The rest of the supporting cast was fun too. A few laughs from Captain Boomerang, Kroc, and others. I wish the final movie has been rated R and they had not wimped out on some of the action and suggestive humor. It isn’t like I’d take a kid to see this as it is right now with all the decapitations and Harley’s ass hanging out all the time. If DC decided to do an R Rated Blu Ray after the fact with all their movies, I’m fine with that, but let us not pretend this movie is OK for a 10 year old to see just because they didn’t say “fuck.”

Vice Principals Speaking of bad guys, HBO’s Vice Principals is not the show I thought it would be. The advertising before release made it look like two high school vice principals played by Walton Goggins and Danny McBride would be competing for the same job and constantly sabotaging each other. By the end of the first episode, they form an alliance to take down the principal who was hired from outside and focus all efforts on sabotaging her.

Since the two of them are white men who feel entitled and the new principal is a black woman who through various scenes is shown to be confident and capable and earned the job, this show suddenly took a very dark turn about white privilege in the middle of the screwball comedy. Much of principal Brown’s backstory is revealed in a scene where Gamby (McBride) and Russel (Goggins) respectively break in and then BURN HER HOUSE DOWN. This was the second episode. This show went off the rails QUICK.

Based on being familiar with Danny McBride’s past roles I was sure he was going to be the big a-hole in this show. I was kinda right, he’s gruff and abrasive and speaks out of turn all the time, but ultimately he wants to lead the school and wants to be good at his job; that is admirable. Goggins as Russell is the loose cannon. He doesn’t think twice about stealing personal information or valuables, destroying school property, or (as I mentioned before) burning a house down. His sweet southern delivery hiding his diabolical intentions are the reason to keep coming back.

Since both of them are so disreputable, it is hard to call either of them protagonists, but their bad behavior is what makes the show worth tuning in for. McBride makes you cringe as he tries to befriend an attractive teacher or deliver bad news to a staff member, Goggins inspires outright rage as he quickly becomes the villain of the show actively trying to destroy everything.

I hear this is going to be a two season show, with season one being the fall of the school year, and season two going through the spring. With a limited time frame and focus, I hope they are free to do as much crazy crap as possible without worrying about long term consequences for characters.

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I don’t think of myself as nuts about the characters Scourge. Introduced in Transformers The Movie he’s one of the Unicron created henchmen for Galvatron. He turns into a boat or a ship or just some slab that has a gun on top. On the left we have the Generations version of the character, who had a more Earth friendly stealth bomber mode. Right side is the 2006 Titanium figure, which has some diecast metal parts and otherwise has an accurate but stylized depiction of the character.

The center is the new Titans Return figure, who I think splits the difference. The robot mode isn’t quite as dynamic and cool looking at the 2010 Generations figure, but he looks much more like the movie character in both robot and vehicle mode. He’s missing the movie character’s red claws, but he holds a gun so whatever. Like all Titans Return figures, he’s a headmaster so that head pops off and becomes a smaller robot. But the original wasn’t a headmaster so I don’t care and won’t bother addressing it. The head does not have to come off to transform, but it isn’t hidden in robot mode, so you can just pop it off and throw it in the cockpit of the slab ship.

I guess with the three of them I have Scourge and some Sweeps (his clone-like minions) for my eventual TFTM display. If there is anything I’m working toward its having a display of all the characters from Transformers The Movie, with emphasis on modern versions where possible. TFTM is 30 this week, so its nice to have another character to check off my list, even if its one I already had. Of course I now think about Vincent’s article “Why I’m Not A Toy Collector” when he talks about the trap of a new improved definitive version of the character coming every year.

“So Strange” East Hundred
I flipped through my shazams to find a new tune to post this week. I don’t remember where I heard this. Maybe the Shape Of Rock on WMSE? In any case, judging by the view count on youtube, only a few people have every heard this song so give it a spin. Its some propulsive indie rock not unlike Sonic Youth. Looking them up on facebook looks like they broke up a long time ago, but the music is still good.

Weekly Recap Wednesday – August 3

This site has been quiet for almost a year. It should be clear by now I’m not going to really run for President so I hid those posts and I’m gonna revamp my Facebook campaign page in a minute too.

So I’m gonna do a weekly recap blog like the West Week Ever or Robots PJ’s Friday Round Up.

Star Trek Beyond
Like a lot of people, Into Darkness didn’t inspire a lot of faith in the franchise for me. Unlike a lot of people I did have faith in Justin Lin as a director and Simon Pegg as a screen writer to get this one right. Luckily my faith was rewarded with a great feature length episode of the series. I won’t bore you with a review or introduction because this is Star Trek! You know what it is!
But I’ll say if you avoided the movie because of the last one or worry that the new director would just turn it into Fast & Furious, you were wrong and oh-so-right, respectively. Justin Lin brings that kinetic energy from F&F’s heists to every action sequence. Yes the Enterprise goes down, and it is a heart breaking affair that is at the climax of the first act. The crew has to deal with the consequences of their lost home immediately, even while under threat from the menace on they barely escaped from. Dom Torretto’s crew in F&F is his “family” and no less can be said about Kirk’s crew. The brash and careless captain from the first movie has evolved into the capable and clever captain we know he’s supposed to be. Great turns from Karl Urban as McCoy, the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov, and Pegg as Scotty.
I did have issue with the way Carol Marcus was completely forgotten. I mean, we all have problems with the way she was presented in the last movie, but as a member of the Enterprise crew in a sequel they could have redeemed her a little bit. Jayla was a solid addition and I hope she comes back in sequels.
Go see it. You won’t be disappointed.

Transformers Hardhead
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I’ve been looking forward to Titans Return for a while. Combiner Wars was an exercise in how far Transformers have come in overall toy technology. That sound weird but it is true: Transformers are the most well engineered toys on the market and to make figures that can be a robot and a plane and a leg and an arm was really a feat.
Anyway, Titan gimmicks are the old Headmasters that originated back in 1987. Hardhead was one of them and as an update this is a pretty cool figure. Head has to come off to transform but then the head becomes a tiny, tiny little robot that can sit insides.
The effect of unlicensed or “third party” Transformers can be felt on this guy because this is the most greebly fuckin’ toy I’ve ever touched. Paint details are few, a couple Autobot logo stickers, but textured ridges covering every millimeter. I would prefer some more clean lines and maybe more paint to make surfaces pop.
He’s a cool figure, tank mode is nice, and the transformation is interesting. I don’t have any strong feelings about Hardhead as a character from the old toon or the current comics so his place in my collection will remain for only as long as I think he looks neat.
I’ll take a look at Scourge next week.

Phantogram – “Run Run Blood”

I’ve been aware of Phantogram for a while, hearing some tunes on Radio Milwaukee here and there and even really enjoy the couple singles they did with Big Boi under the name “Big Grams”
But this new single is pretty aggressive and now I’m really digging it. I did a deep dive into their catalog last few days and now I’m an overnight huge fan. I checked for tour dates and they’re playing Chicago… yesterday so I guess I’ll have to wait until next time. Anyway if you like Garbage or Portishead or just the sound of a white girl singing over rap beats this is for you.

Watch live video from Zacshipleycom on
I started a twitch channel a while ago but never broadcast until the other night. Mostly an experiment, I didn’t see too many people watching as I went along. Maybe the next time I start a party with some friends it might be more enjoyable to watch.
Also, my connection kept crapping out as I played so thats a problem so this is only a chunk of what I actually did. When I get in a party I can get talkative, but its hard to chat while I’m playing with no one around and when I know literally no one watching.

Tweet Of The Week

Maybe some time I’ll put someone else’s tweet here. For now I’ll just put the best tweet I wrote each week.