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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.

Love
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.

Keanu
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.
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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.

Playlist

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 – 8/10/16

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
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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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Scourge

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
franklin-swarm
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.

Twitch
Watch live video from Zacshipleycom on www.twitch.tv
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.

Game Diary

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Donkey Kong County Tropical Freeze, Super Metroid
thelegendofhilda

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
I haven’t played a Zelda game seriously in a long time. I abandoned Wind Waker just before the Triforce hunt, abandoned Twilight Princess before I finished the tutorial. I even made some public overtures about the Zelda series being stale and over.
Continue reading Game Diary

State of Maryland vs Zac Shipley


I got a traffic ticket a month or so ago. I was driving on a road that had a 40 speed limit, and made a slight left turn on to another road that had a 25 limit. Naturally, I never adjusted my speed. In fact, I don’t think I even knew at the time the limit was 25. The officer who pulled me over certainly did, and I was issued a $90 fine.

I felt the fine was excessive, so I plead guilty but called for a hearing. I took the day off work. I got dressed in a shirt and tie, drove to the court house downtown. I had to use a parking garage, and was searched upon entering the building. I arrived 15 minutes early as suggested on my summons, and turned my phone off as suggested by the bailiff.

When the judge arrived, she gave a run down of the court process (when to approach, where to stand, etc). The defendants called before me all seemed in a similar position: pleading guilty and hoping for leniency. Many had excuses of stress. I feel like this a really bullshit defense, because if you can’t handle a little stress, you’re a pretty wreckless driver. Driving is more stress than the excuses some of these people came up with.

Luckily, my case was called pretty early. The judge read my charge, and I please guilty. I explained the street I was speeding on wasn’t a very well travelled road, and situated between 2 streets where the speed limit is 40. I also noted that I never felt the 40 MPH speed I normally travelled was excessive on that road, but had been careful not to repeat the infraction in the time since the ticket. She asked about my prior record, and I admitted to not having any other moving violations since 2003.

She cut my fine in half, to $45. I was now responsible for court costs, which in this case totalled $33, so $78. After paying the amount, I then had to pay a dollar for parking.

In total, I saved $11 under what I would have paid if I just mailed a check a month ago. I also missed a day of work or time with my family, since my daughter had to stay in day care while I attended this hearing.

But then I wouldn’t have a court story, would I?

Rocket Barrel


I’m not sure who’s idea it was for the rocket barrel levels on Donkey Kong Country Returns, or who designed the levels.

But I hope something bad happened to them. Not like they die or get hurt. Like they loose their car keys for a day. Or they get mud splashed on them as they walk down the street. Or a bug flies in their drink and now they have to throw it out and get another.

A major annoyance in an otherwise good day, if you catch my drift.

I did complete DKCR last night and am pretty satisfied. except for the 30 lives I’d dump into rocket levels.