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Category Archives: Television/Movies

Let’s Hang Out With Parker This Weekend

Statham ParkerYou might know Parker as Jason Statham, from the new movie Parker, which I haven’t seen yet. It’s based on Flashfire, the 19th Parker novel. I can tell you from the preview that it looks a bit like the book, but that it looks nothing like Parker. It’s had some sort of protagonist transplant.

Which is fine – you shouldn’t go around making movies out of Parker novels, because Parker’s too dark to appeal to a wide enough audience. Parker does not, for instance, live by any dumbass “code” like the preview for Parker says he does. Apparently this incarnation of Parker never hurts innocent people and never steals from the poor, which might make you like him more, might make it more likely that you’ll buy some movie tickets, but it isn’t Parker.

Parker’s assessment of whether or not he should kill you or steal your money is entirely risk-reward based. He is a sociopath. In the first novel, he breaks into a beauty salon right around closing time, ties up the woman who runs the place, and uses the window to watch some mob guys he’s interested in. Later he goes back to check on her and she’s dead. Parker doesn’t care.

I’m not saying – “Go Parker!” But I am saying, if you’re wanting to pretend you’re a criminal, you can do it Ocean’s Eleven-style, where they’re not actually bad people, just hot, lovable scamps. Or you can be grittily realistic. There’s no correct way, now, settle down – literary morality is not a race.

I AM saying that’s the character, he’s completely amoral, and that’s who he is. Very quickly in the series, author Donald Westlake softens the character up, but if that entails knocking off the accidental murder of innocent hairdressers and getting him a steady girlfriend later on, well- you’re really overreaching when you claim he’s Robin Hood.

The only reason – the ONLY reason – Parker isn’t killing you right now, is that it’s a pain in the ass and there is no compelling reason to do it. He doesn’t care who you are or what you did or whether or not you’re nice.

Here’s another modern incarnation of Parker:

Payback

In Payback, Parker’s name was Porter, and they softened him up in hilarious ways, like they made him goof around with a big, silly puppy dog and made him a former driver for a Super Hot Prostitute named Rosie, whom he was apparently in love with, because that makes sense, driving a prostitute from John to John and thinking, if only me and her could skip through the park together eating ice cream.

That movie was based on The Hunter, the first of the Parker novels, and so yes, that’s the one where he killed the hairdresser. Did you see Porter kill any hair dressers? Me neither, and Parker is to be clear, MUCH larger than Mel Gibson.

Rosie, who is Mel’s love interest in the movie and runs off with him at the end, is in the book for approximately seven pages, as a chubby, drug-addled prostitute who Parker knocks around a little bit until he gets some information out of her. I think she tells him she hates him when he stomps away with the name he needed, and we never see her again in twenty-three novels.

I actually like Payback. They kept it pretty dark, and it’s all retro-technology, since the original book was written in 1962, and this was before Mel Gibson parked a fertilizer truck in front of the Crazy Town Courthouse and started threatening the Queen and getting his Anti-Semite Groove going. Before that, he was very mainstream and the ladies dug him. Going dark was playing against type, and it worked for him.

It was as close to actual Parker as I think we’re likely to get on screen, but again – that’s okay. The books were practically designed to be read with a six pack of beer. They’re short, and they’re lean, and they come in two categories.

Either Parker is planning a job, and at the end they’ll execute it and we’ll see how it goes, or we join him in mid-job, and something goes horribly wrong, and we’ll watch him get clear.

The Usual SuspectsThat’s it. We’re just sociopathic criminals for a few hours, without hurting anybody and without going to jail. We don’t have to watch him fall in love with a beautiful and brilliant safecracker, or a beautiful and brilliant stunt driver, or a brilliant and beautiful police detective or anything like that. There’s no mute kid who says something at the end, making it really meaningful and softening the grizzled heister’s cold heart.

No. You’re going to pull off a heist, and you get to leave your conscience at home, and if you don’t like it you get out of the car.

So here’s why we’re going to hang out with Parker this weekend. Of the twenty-three Parker novels, I’ve read twenty-two of them, missing the tenth simple due to being unable to find it. There are more coming out, from what I hear, but Donald Westlake is dead. The last Parker novel, Ask The Parrot, was very clearly the result of a stooge being handed the beginning of a first draft which Westlake left behind, and being told to write a Parker novel out of it. I guess it isn’t terrible, but I know when Westlake’s writing and when he’s not. That wasn’t him.

In fact, it was him, for the first sixty pages. Then suddenly all the characters decide, let’s think of a whole new plan, these last sixty pages aren’t doing it for me, then Parker does something else, acting nothing like Parker at all.

Parker why do you suddenly sound like a thirty year-old English major with a second glass of whiskey in your hand? Sigh.

So anyway, the one Parker novel I haven’t read is The Green Eagle Score. It comes right after The Rare Coin Score, in which Parker meets Claire and she becomes the greatest criminal girlfriend ever, asking zero questions about what Parker does, putting zero requirements on when he should and shouldn’t be away, and being able to use her brain if the shit hits the fan and the cops show up. You know what Claire knows, officer?

Nothing. Beat it.

Green Eagle ScoreSuddenly, back in my world, it was 2013, and I realized that instead of combing local used bookstores for the remaining Parker novel, I could use Amazon Technology and have it in my hands overnight. Fair enough – that’s what I’ve done. Now I’m off to sit on my ass, drink a few beers, and read it. There’s a good chance you’ll get to hear all about it tomorrow, because what else am I going to write about if that’s all I’ve been doing all day?

And if you are wondering about Heinlein’s The Number of the Beast, I’m still going to finish it, but Parker doesn’t like to wait in line, so he gets to go first. You can take it up with Parker if you don’t like it.

That’s the best thing about Parker novels – you don’t have to wait for stuff to happen. Westlake – who writes the novels as Richard Stark – drops you right into the shit from the very first sentence. In fact, my favorite opening line ever is from Firebreak, a 2001 Parker novel:

“When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.”

I’ll tell you the first line to this one tomorrow, once I’ve finished it. Until then, blogosphere.

 

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Star Trek And The Conservation Of Dialogue Principle

thank you for smokingThere was a movie called Thank You For Smoking, and it had Robe Lowe in it as a Hollywood movie executive, and Aaron Eckhart as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry. In one scene, Eckhart’s character is trying to work a deal with Lowe’s character to get cigarettes placed more prominently and positively in upcoming blockbusters, and Lowe describes a scene he has in mind.

It’s set in space, and the idea is that two superhot A-List actors like say Johnny Depp and Scarlett Johansson have sex in a room with zero gravity, and it’s all sexy and graphic, and then they’re floating there afterward smoking cigarettes, and the smoke is spiraling around them and that’s exactly what Eckhart’s talking about.

“But,” he asks. “Wouldn’t the whole thing blow up, lighting up in an oxygen rich environment like that?”

“Well, yeah,” says the movie producer. “But that’s just like, one line of dialogue. ‘I’m so glad we got the whatever installed so we can smoke in space.'”

Very matter-of-fact, because it’s often that simple, and as far as watching the new Star Trek movie goes, don’t go complaining that they didn’t add the extra lines of dialogue for you. They’re already talking plenty. Some things just aren’t going to make sense, and they’re going to spare us the token explanations as to why.

Like you might be wondering why the Enterprise, which can teleport a grown Vulcan male out of the center of the volcano, can’t remotely operate whatever device he’s got down there with him. I think they may have even muttered something about how they can’t be seen by the natives – but you know, they’re usually teleporting from orbit, where the natives wouldn’t see them.

Well, the crust is rich in radioactive isotopes, and they’re screwing with the sensor array, and the device Spock has is too sensitive – the interference could reverse the polarity and then it wouldn’t work. Only way to do it is by hand.

Star Trek 1Or something like that. On the television show, they get pretty bogged down explaining stuff all the time, acting like this is science and not silliness with science stickers on it. I think the new Star Trek movie makes a pretty good decision realizing that it doesn’t need to explain everything.

Like why they could stun Khan briefly on the Bridge, but Uhura unloaded on him about eight times and he supershrugged it off, even with one Metric Vulcan Asskicking in him. That’s how the action needed to flow, don’t make them explain that. Maybe he took a bite out of a tribble before he left, who knows?

We could quibble about how they were beaming folks out of midair in the last one, and this time they can’t get a lock during the final fight scene because “they’re moving around too much!”

It was already awkward enough when Bones is suddenly had a dead tribble next to him and sort of stretched and said, “Yep. Better inject some of Khan’s weird ass blood into this dead tribble while you guys proceed with your action movie. See what happens.”

Everybody even sort of turns to look at him. Sure, Bones. You do that. Right here, why the hell not?

And of course a little dialogue tap dance regarding the need for an extraneous bra-and-panty shot for Dr. Marcus. Because she’s hot, and her agent said so, that’s why.

The problem always comes in when there’s no line of dialogue that could save them from the problem – like when Iron Man doesn’t have any extra suits. That’s dumb, Iron Man. You’re not dumb. Last time you had an extra suit in your car. Keep extra suits somewhere, you big ding dong.

A fine line I’m drawing there, I guess. Star Trek silliness is cool and you shouldn’t ask questions, Iron Man silliness is questionable but still cool, just not as cool as Star Trek. Also, did you notice that Star Trek wouldn’t even have happened if everyone would have just listened to Scotty with regards to seventy-ish torpedos which no one can see inside, and with regards to taking said torpedos on board?

ScottyHe basically had the whole movie beat if everyone had just said, “Hey, Scotty’s right, like he usually is about engineering and missiles. We usually do all right without mystery torpedos, anyway – right?”

All right, well, that’s my advice, and I’ve thought it through carefully for well over twenty-six minutes, so I can’t imagine there is anything inconsistent or hypocritical about it. I was going to bag on the Pope for a little bit, but I was too tired, and he really does seem nice. I guess just being a Pope freaks me out, that’s all.

Cool, now I’m going to use the gravitational pull of the Sun as a sling shot and go land on my couch. You have a nice evening, blogosphere.

 

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Your Own Personal Trekkie

I mean, I guess that’s what I am. I know a lot of Star Trek stuff off the top of my head, and I do have a Starfleet shirt. I once bartended an entre shift on Halloween dressed like this:

Vulcan Bartender 2So yes, I’m a Trekkie so you don’t have to be, because these days, you could be a perfectly normal person who loves the Star Trek movies for non-dorky reasons. You might just like action movies starring hot people, for example.

I love the new Star Trek movies for both kinds of reasons. Sometimes you hear Trekkies bitching because these last two movies deviate in tone and depth and philosophical ambition from the rest of the franchise, but the way I see it, there’s plenty of old Star Trek out there. Just put a bucket outside before you go to sleep tonight, and by the time you wake up, it will be full of old Star Trek. There’s plenty of that.

But this time around, there’s a lot more for us dorks sprinkled in with all the awesomeness, so just in case you have an actual social life and haven’t seen every episode ever made several times apiece, let me take you on a little tour of the Trekkie stuff from Star Trek Into Darkness.

Khan, for example. Khan Noonien Singh. You might notice that his name sounds a lot like Noonian Soong, the guy who created Data from The Next Generation. It turns out that both characters were named after the same pal of series creator Gene Roddenberry, but then on the most recent series, Star Trek: Enterprise, Noonian Soong’s grandfather Arik showed up (played by Brent Spiner, who also played Data and Noonian Soong) and turned out to be messing around with Augments like Khan.

KHANSo maybe Arik Soong interacted with a later-awakened Khan Noonien Singh, and then told his son about him, and then that guy named one of his kids Noonian. Even the spelling in the credits changes on some of the episodes, sometimes it’s spelled like Khan’s name.

See, in the original Star Trek, Kirk and his crew come across the USS Botany Bay with frozen Augmented Khan and his frozen, Augmented pals in it. This was after the Eugenics Wars, which took place in the 1990s, when superhumans like Khan occupied and ruled one quarter of the world. After that, I think we kicked their asses, but killed a lot of people – that’s why in Star Trek: First Contact, civilization had backslid a little.

So in the movie, it’s Admiral Alexander Marcus (played by Robocop!) who finds the USS Botany Bay, long before Kirk did in the original series. That’s because in the two most recent movies, we’re in an alternate universe created by a time travel paradox, in which the planet Vulcan was destroyed. As Starfleet moved more toward a military mindset similar to America post-9/11, they must have altered their missions to more aggressively chart the area, and so that’s why they found Khan sooner.

Also, when Noonian Soong was screwing around, experimenting with Augments he unleashed some kind of virus on the Klingons,altering their physical appearance, which is why Klingons from the old show appear to be smooth-skinned, while the rest of them – even those in Star Trek: Enterprise, which takes place before the original series – have ridges on their faces and generally more complicated makeup. Yes, they bothered to explain that for us.

Doctor MarcusThe hot, blonde scientist chickaroo? That’s not just the Admiral’s daughter, that’s Dr. Marcus from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. She’s the one who has a kid with him and then doesn’t tell him for twenty-odd years. Then she calls him up because mind-controlled Chekhov shows up ordering her to hand over the Genesis device.

Also, did you notice that tribble was pregnant? Do you know how I can tell?

Because all tribbles are pregnant. They’re born pregnant. Dr. McCoy explained that to us way back in “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Member? That’s why they were all over the place.

Whale ProbeAlso, there’s a giant, hollow tree-type of probe on the way to Earth still. It’s the one from Star Trek IV, which showed up because it turned out that humpback whales had been communicating with it for centuries, and then they went extinct so it showed up and went all apeshit on Starfleet, like “Where are the whales, guys? Where are the cockadoody whales?!” Except blowing stuff up, too.

So someone’s going to need to go back in time and get some humpback whales. Doesn’t have to be our guys, but since Old Parallel Universe Spock is here, he might want to give someone the old Heads Up-A-Roo. Just two whales are apparently fine. All you gotta do is use the Sun’s gravitational pull as a slingshot, scootch back to the eighties, right before the Eugenics War, which apparently took its toll on the whale population for some reason.

Khan2As for all this talk about who the real bad guy is – the real bad guy is Khan. If you thought Khan wasn’t pure evil at any point, it was because he’s so fucking smart he can reach right out of the fictional world into this one and control your brain. Sure, the Admiral was a jerk and a bad guy. Getting temporarily enslaved by Admiral Marcus doesn’t make Khan a nice guy. Also, he’s Young Khan. Give him about twenty or thirty years. Maroon him on a barely habitable planet for a few years. See what happens.

Also, a Pro Tip for anyone out there with a beautiful and brilliant daughter – she is NOT going to choose your evil plans over the hot, dangerous guy you hate, just because you raised her. Especially if you told her you hate him and he’s off limits. That’s not how it works.

Okay, cool. This Trekkie lesson is over. Go on upstairs and see if your mom will make you a quesadilla.

Just be all like, “MOM! MOOOOMMMMMMM!!!!!”

KIRK 3

 

 

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I’m Just Going To Pile On Iron Man III For A Moment

Not for very long, I liked the movie. It was, well it was fine. When it was over I said, “Oh. All right then.” And I wasn’t mad or anything.

I can’t say I was thrilled or disappointed, just kind of fine. I guess in general, I had to dial the brain down just a little lower than I’m normally comfortable with, even for a superhero movie, and that’s fine, too, but that’s why I need to plug my nose and whine about it for a little bit. It’s my mystic way.

You shouldn’t read any further than this is you haven’t seen it yet, by the way. I’ll put a big picture of something beneath this so you don’t get a glimpse of any spoilers. How about Angry Nick Cage?

Drive Angry

There you go. Now I’m assuming that everybody here has seen Iron Man III. And I know, I just lectured the Doctor Who crowd about going all Comic Book Guy on the 50th Anniversary Episode, but that’s because it hasn’t been filmed yet and nobody’s seen it. The time to go all Comic Book Guy is after you walk out of a movie like this, and when you find it hard to do that, you’ve seen an awfully good comic book movie.

MandarinI was watching Cartoon Iron Man a few weeks ago, just takin’ ‘er easy, kicking around. And I saw the Mandarin on that one and thought, wow, I forgot what a crazy racist stereotype that character was. How are they going to get away with it in the movie? Then they cast Ben Kingsley, and if you’ve read this far then you know the rest. That was a good one – cracking me up is one half of why I’m still calling this a good movie.

The other half is special effects and in particular, giant things being destroyed. Good work on both counts there.

But Tony Stark having panic attacks? No, thank you. I get that we need him to have some vulnerability so there’s danger and peril and threats to overcome, just again. No thank you. I don’t need realistic weaknesses. Just take away his Iron Man suits.

Which they do. But they’re not normal Iron Man suits, are they?

All of the sudden, they work just fine without anyone in them. Probably, that’s in the comic, I’m just not really interested in what’s in the comic. I like how the suit comes to him, yes, and I get that if the suit comes to him, he could have it programmed to do complicated things. But the suits all kick pretty decent ass on their own.

RipleyI guess I liked it when Iron Man was Tony Stark plus an Iron Man suit. The Man in the Machine. The suits fight effectively without him, and it seems like you’ve weakened the definition of Iron Man.

But okay, that’s how they work. Let’s hold that thought a moment.

Tony gets super duper mad at the Mandarin for nearly killing his pal. Already, I’m a little weirded out by Tony Stark not getting super duper mad at the first nine bombings, but okay. He uses the media frenzy to challenge the Mandarin to a fight, because he’s so mad.

Nothing about the Mandarin suggests that he likes to fight, just that he’s good at blowing things up. But Tony tells him his home address as if the Mandarin himself is going to show up. I’m not sure why he thinks that a man who can take control of every channel at the same time and broadcast untraceable threats against the President, wouldn’t be able to locate the address of Tony Stark, but that’s fine. We needed it to be Tony’s ego causing him to lose everything. Got it.

But he doesn’t lose everything. He loses his big house, Bruce Wayne-style, and they sort of lead us to believe that all of his Iron Man suits have been destroyed, but no, they’re still down there. They have to dig them out with a crane. How long’s that going to take? Oh, about til the end of the movie.

And then they show up and save everything, so Tony destroys them all and removes the ARC reactor from his chest and now it appears he’s going to start over. That’s fine, but it’s a remarkable level of confidence he’s got there, that no other super villains are going to show up while he’s finding himself and kissing Pepper Pott’s ass and having panic attacks.

Which brings me back to the autonomous Iron Man suits. If they are so functional on their own, don’t you think they should have been roaming his house, maybe stationed at strategic defensive positions, after he threatened the Mandarin and told him to come over? Does he have any other Iron Man suits at Stark Tower in New York, the one that had an A on it at the end of The Avengers? Do you think he should have had a couple extras somewhere, anywhere at all?

How many eggs should you keep in your basket again, Mr. Stark?

Anyway, not the way to watch a superhero movie, and yes, I know this. Like I said, it was good, they blew a bunch of stuff up, the villains were tough, and you really just had to dial the brain down and go with it. Best part was the dialogue – a lot of times I was getting slightly bored or irritated, and then they would crack me up, so that’s nice.

Generally, I was just sort of startled that I didn’t care. I knew he’d survive, knew he’d be in the other Avengers movies minus the panic attacks, knew Pepper was going to be fine and that she was going to kick some ass so people didn’t complain that all the girls do is scream for help. It was like they tried to hamstring him so much, it reversed itself and made the peril less compelling. Also, I accidentally went to a theater that doesn’t serve beer.

Cable GuyIt’s funny, usually after the credits there’s a clip hinting at future movies. This time it’s a funny little bit with Dr. Banner in it, and they kind of seem to be aware of the same problem I’m bitching about, that Tony Stark seems just a little whiny, that maybe the attempt at psychological realism could be construed as boring. They give us a clip like a biscuit, let us know Tony Stark will be back, and then they’re gone.

I’ll sleep on it, because the best way to describe my feelings right now are “weird.” I don’t know what to make of this thing. It was like my good friend came over but had a little too much to drink, started just barely getting on my nerves and I wasn’t aware he could do that. Probably I just need to get some biscuits and gravy in my belly and forget it.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Television/Movies

 

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What Do We Owe The Die Hard Franchise?

A lot of people don’t like to talk about A Good Day To Die Hard, and I don’t blame them. It was a godawful, insulting, soul-poisoning mess.

Indy FridgeWalking out of the theater was like lurching across a vast, miserable desert and then having a refrigerator land in front of you with Indiana Jones in it. Oh, dear – old friend. What have they done to you?

Hopefully you didn’t see it. I need to tell you some things about it anyway, though, because time marches on and the day will come when you see it staring at you on Netflix or something and you’ll say, what the hell, might as well watch John McClane kick some ass even if it’s shitty, right? Any John McClane asskicking is a decent asskicking to behold, yes?

No. In point of fact, John McClane kicks very little ass in this movie. Here’s what happens.

He gets some information from a guy on his Police Squad that his son is in Russia and has just shot some kind of Russian Gangster. They can’t even spring for Sam Jackson or Al Powell or anyone from any previous movies to be the one to get him the information, it’s just some guy.

So John McClane gets on an airplane and heads on over to the obviously existing, non-Die Hard script he’s been grafted on to. In order to make it Die Hardy, they use bullet points from the first movie like a template, reasoning that Action Movie Plus Die Hard Plot Template will equal Awesome.

Cab DRiverGoodness. An incredibly painful scene right at the beginning in which McClane bonds with a Russian version of Argyle The Limo Driver. This time it’s a taxi driver who talks like Yakov Smirnoff and who I swear to God sings a song to John after John’s sort of a dick to him. You see, John McClane has come to Moscow speaking not one word of Russian, so when people speak Russian, he smirks and rolls his eyes like when the Californians were freaking him out in the first one. Heh? HEH? See – it’s Die Hard!

That’s okay, says Yakov Argyle – I love Americans and I will sing you a song.

And. Then. He. Does.

Holy shit, I started crying. I understood that very basic screenplay structure dictated that Yakov Argyle would be back later to give John a convenient ride at some point when he needed it, but no. No, we never see Yakov Argyle again. John gets out of the taxi and then runs the rest of the way to the new, Russian screenplay on foot.

Then John McClane arrives at the Courthouse where they’re about to try his son in Russian Court. John notices some military vehicles, and says Hmmmmm. Then there’s either an attempt to rescue his son or an attempt to kill him, and no less than a couple hours after landing in Moscow with no plan at all, John McClane’s son trots right out in front of him.

Let’s have a big car chase, they all agree. And although it’s real mayhem, it’s not exciting and it’s stupid. John McClane Dies Easily in it a half dozen times, but they’re counting on the fact that since John McClane is always surviving ridiculous things, we’ll all be cool with him being totally indestructible. Did you know that there are very few Russian law enforcement officers? If you want to grab random, huge, unattended vehicles and then crash them all over Moscow, they don’t really have much of a system in place to address that.

Then they agree the car chase is over and head over to some building to wait for the rest of the movie to happen. A hilarious turn of character exposition puts them in the bad guys hands, at gunpoint, outnumbered, and although John McClane has not been talking all night by walkie talkie to the bad guys or hiding their detonators or saying “Yippe Ki-Yay, Motherfucker” to them, the head thug behaves as if he and John have a long and bitter rivalry.

VillainOne so long and bitter that instead of putting a bullet in the McClanes’ heads, he instead has to prance about in front of them going, “Welllllll, at last we have the mighty Chewbacca, you are not so tough, Mister American Cowboy, etc” while kicking and punching and whatnot. Meanwhile, John and his asshole son exchange knowing smirks, because they’re sneakily untying their ropes, freeing up their hands to kick some poorly choreographed ass.

It turns out that even though his father is world-renowned for saving literally millions of lives and publicly thwarting four elaborate terrorist attacks, his son doesn’t understand why he wasn’t around very much growing up, and makes a series of hilarious little girl noises about his rough upbringing, and then it turns out he’s CIA and McClane didn’t know that either. He notices if you’re smoking your cigarette like a European as opposed to an American, but nothing ever tipped him off over the years that his son was training for the CIA.

McClane’s not a fly in the ointment this time. He’s not a monkey in the wrench. He’s not an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. He’s a doddering old pain in his son’s ass.

Then it’s off to Chernobyl, where it turns out the Russian guy who took them there wasn’t really trying to do whatever the hell he said he was, he was trying to do something sinister. This is a big, huge surprise to everyone at the end of the movie, even though that’s always what happens at the end of the movie.

Then they shoot everybody and jump into a pool and don’t worry, because right away his super smart son tells us it’s just Chernobyl Rain Water, it’s not radioactive. In fact, there are virtually no radiation concerns at Chernobyl at all – Yay!!

Also, I’m not certain but Bruce Willis is either drunk the entire time he’s filming the movie, or he’s got early onset Alzheimer’s. And it’s an NRA commercial too, if that does anything for you. At the end of the movie is a ninety second scene of divorced John McClane bonding with his son and daughter, in case you were wondering what demographic they were shooting for.

Pretty easy to get upset with Die Hard at this point, because the other sequels are all pretty good by my notoriously low standards. I’m very, very easy to please when it comes with this stuff. For instance, would you like to watch Con Air with me? I swear to God, I’ll drop what I’m doing and watch Con Air with you right now if you want. That’s how low the bar is.

AlAs I’ve said before, the original Die Hard is a near perfect movie, with some truly hilarious-but-not-meant-to-be-hilarious character arcs, like how McClane’s wife learns that her career is dumb and she should have John’s name stamped on her head, and how Al Powell, through his friendship with McClane, learns to kill again.

We owe this franchise a mulligan. And we owe it to our children to see that they watch the first four all in one sitting and then go to Chuck E. Cheese or anyplace with a bouncy ball pit, see what happens. And we owe it to Die Hard to go and spend money seeing the next one, which if I’m not mistaken is going to be called Die Peacefully At Home, Surrounded By Loved Ones.

Thanks blogosphere. I wasn’t blogging back when I saw that, and I needed the time between then and now to sort out my feelings. And remember – just because you shot a kid a while ago who had a toy ray gun that looked real enough, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shoot anybody else ever again. Shit happens. Get back on that horse.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Television/Movies

 

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Let’s All Calm Down About Doctor Who

Futurama Doctor WhoThat should be easy for most of you, the ninety percent of you who not only are unaware there’s a modern incarnation of Doctor Who, but who seem to instinctively want nothing to do with it. Most folks think of the curly-haired dude from the seventies and they could maybe identify the T.A.R.D.I.S. if you showed them an image of it, but that’s it. Their eyes glaze over within several words – not only is this show about a time traveler, it’s freaking British.

Why must they have their own version of everything? And why do they always have to come up with their version first?

Anyway, I love that about Doctor Who. It seems to me, you need to get on board the show about a centuries-old time traveler who regenerates into different bodies as each actor gets tired of playing him, or you need to not get on board. If Doctor Who were a boat it would be a big, silly, outrageous boat with tea and ferris wheels and a Trekkie Convention on crack for a crew, and it would be very obvious to you just by looking at it if it was the kind of boat you would enjoy riding around on.

Don’t get on the boat and start bitching about the silliness. You get yourself a cup of tea and enjoy, or you get off the boat.

So most people stay away from it – cool. I don’t blame them, it’s utterly ridiculous. I can’t imagine how one could ever enjoy the show if one were to approach it with even a hint of cynicism. And so when I’m hanging around on the various Doctor Who Facebook Pages (you heard me), I’m always a little freaked out by all the bitching, especially with regards to the upcoming 50 Year Anniversary Episode.

I can’t imagine anyone reading this far and not knowing what the 50 Year Anniversary episode’s all about, but what the hell, some people are reading about my coffee and my car rides. Real quickly, the show has been off and on for fifty years and they’re on the Eleventh Doctor, meaning that’s how many different actors have played him. In the show, The Doctor gets injured really badly and as a Time Lord his body gets regenerated into a new actor by the vast and mystic energy that powers The T.A.R.D.I.S. Which again, the T.A.R.D.I.S. is his sentient time machine, shaped like a blue emergency Police Box, which is huge and possibly infinite inside. Has a swimming pool, for instance.

Okay, now that you are up to speed, all you need to know is that for the 50th Anniversary episode, they’re going to have various actors who have played The Doctor all interact, or possibly not, or possibly some of them. Here’s an article on The Guardian about all the rumors – Digging the dirt on the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Episode – and it seems clear that the producers are very cleverly dishing out a slew of conflicting rumors so as to render all rumors unreliable. That’s just the British, being smarter than us as usual.

But back to the actual Doctor Who fans. Good lord, you guys have to calm down and quit bitching about everything. Given how so many people find it simply impossible to even discuss the show, and given how culty and low-budget it used to be, we should kissing Steven Moffat’s ass, and BBC’s ass, and anyone else’s ass who is keeping this train running.

Yes, I know, we’re the viewers and we keep it running too. But they don’t always listen to us – have we forgotten all about Firefly? We need to Get. Behind. Our guy.

Comic Book GuyInstead it’s like the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons used the Immortality Gate that The Master hijacked in “The End of Time” to turn everyone on Earth into himself, you know, when the Tenth Doctor got to spend a bit strolling through a Green Day video before regenerating into the Eleventh? Except instead of everyone turning into the Master and mocking The Doctor, you’re all turning into the Comic Book Guy, and you’re mocking me.

Honestly, how do you watch the show, come up with a laundry list of things you hate, and then watch it again? River Song is long gone, you’re still bitching about River Song?

Oh, I hate the new Companion because she’s too young and cute (just admit it, that’s what you’re all saying, I see you).

It’s not dark enough. It’s not scary enough. It makes my eyes roll. It’s too dark. It’s too bright.

Pretty soon, I’m hearing complaints that sound an awful lot like “Yeah, like that could ever happen” or “That doesn’t make any sense” or “That was dumb.”

I mean again, the whole show is utterly ridiculous. The cheerful lunacy of it is what I like, that’s part of the appeal. They can go anywhere, do anything, there are no boundaries to the show at all. Here’s how I approach it – the writers tell me what happened, and I say, “Oh. Huh. How about that?”

I honestly don’t know how you can watch the show without pretending you’re a sheep and simply following the wacky goat. The goat does fail me sometimes, but I love that goat. We’ve had some awesome times together, me and the goat.

John Barrowman, for example, who plays omnisexual immortal Captain Jack Harkness, has reported that he won’t be in the 50th because he wasn’t asked. And he really, really wants to be in the episode. Again, we have no idea if this is part of the rumor manipulation they’re doing, no idea. He could pop up in the episode or he could be telling the truth.

LaForgeBut you know, it’s like a Star Trek movie where the only way the whole cast will agree to be in it is if their characters all get equal screen time, so they have to think up shit for Geordi LaForge and Deanna Troi to do. Let’s have them turn LaForge’s contact lenses into Google glasses! Deanna, you take a bath and then get drunk down on Earth!

It gets clunky and in the way, and it seems to me they know what they’re doing. They have enough problems trying bring various Doctors and Companions together, and I don’t want to demand they include certain characters having no idea what they’re up to.

Whatever you’re cooking, make sure it has trout in it! And marshmallows! And it better be good!

That doesn’t make any sense. They’re working, in there. You guys got to shut up and give them a little room.

It seems silly to have to point out that the Fifty Year Anniversary Episode you are attempting to micromanage from your couch is the Fifty Year Anniversary Episode. Why don’t you go tell the boys at Jameson how to make Irish whiskey? Settle down, all right?

Okay, now I’m sorry I hollered at you. Let’s just all remember that words hurt and folks are busy. Mmm-kay?

Mmm-kay.

PS – if you want a bunch of hilarious Doctor Who links on your newsfeed, then go to this guy’s Facebook page right here. Now keep your bitching to yourself, the new episode is on in a little bit, and if you’re going to yell at me in the comment section, do so with a British accent or I shall ignore you.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Television/Movies, Uncategorized

 

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The Opposite of Sports

quidditchSure, but suppose you don’t give a shit about sports. Not in a mean or arrogant way, you just don’t.

You don’t watch the games or the analytical talk shows and you don’t even know who the giant guys in suits on the shows are. You walk into a bar and it’s packed and you’re puzzled. Is it the 4th of July? St. Patrick’s Day? Was school cancelled for tomorrow and these are all a bunch of hammered teachers? Where did all these people come from?

And it turns out they’re all there to watch some kind of sports thing you’re supposed to know about. You can’t shake the feeling that a solid chunk of these people have to be pretending to care about the total strangers playing the weird game between commercials on thirty-five screens, but you can’t find any of them. These very, very similarly-dressed people definitely care.

Then you get on Pencilstorm and that’s what they’re talking about – sports. And it’s not like an average room where you can simply agree with the largest male about whatever he says with regards to sports and everyone will accept you. It’s writing.

People are going to be able to re-read and figure out that you’re just sitting here, not blogging while the other guys blog. You can’t nod your head through an entire blog post. And guess how long sports go on? Forever.

Normally what I do is I act like a smug prick about it. I’ll refer to your favorite team as “your favorite group of total strangers,” tell theatrical stories about not knowing about the sports you’re so excited about. Blog about it while you’re watching sports.

And you know, it’s not so much that people don’t like that, it’s more that they don’t care because you’re not sports. You just pop out of their minds like soap bubbles.

And then what you’re left with is people who don’t care for sports, but who like smug pricks. That’s a pretty narrow market.

SlothSo I went on over to Pencil Storm to try and gain their trust, thinking maybe I could get them to teach me about sports. I remembered how Princess Leia gave that Ewok a cracker, and how Elliot gave E.T. some Reese’s Pieces, and how the Goonies gave Sloth a candy bar. I thought, well they were all trying to gain trust, I’ll try that. And it went great at first, but when I ran out of candy and crackers, Johnny DiLoretto bit me and Brian Phillips threw his beer across the room and Colin made us all take naps.

I remember lying there in my new Pencil Storm Cubby having my time-out and thinking, remember when The Dark Knight made about $158 million on its opening weekend? Pretty cool compared to the second place movie  – Mamma Mia – which made almost $28 million. Still, that seems like a lot of money for Mamma  Mia, and the reason it did so well seemed simple.

Mamma Mia is the opposite of The Dark Knight. It was a good move releasing it against The Dark Knight, because everyone who wasn’t jacked about seeing The Dark Knight was really keen to strap on a pantsuit and drink in Mamma Mia.

So that was really the question I needed to ask the walls of my cubby – What is the opposite of Sports?

And in a serene moment with really mystical pipes and flutes playing, I suddenly knew. Downton Abbey. The very opposite of sports.

So I spent about six hundred words explaining that at the beginning of my Pencil Storm post, and then Hassler came stomping around, making Charlie Brown teacher noises about how four thousand words was too long for a blog post. He turned out to have a machete down his left pants leg, yanked it out and chopped the first third of the way-too-long blog post off, and so now you’re getting it reheated for your supper, blogosphere. Cause Tommy C. doesn’t feel like cooking.

The rest of the Downton Abbey post is right here.

This is me by the way when I still had some cookies, trying to get them to teach me about sports and microwave ovens and digital alarm clocks. Great bunch of dudes til the cookies run out.

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