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Super Cinematic

Posted on Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

Dave!Wow. 2018 is shaping up to be a heck of a year for super-hero movies! Let's take a look at the eight flicks that are coming up this year...

   
FEBRUARY 16: Black Panther
Black Panther has long been one of my favorites characters, and to see his phenomenal appearance in Captain America: Civil War was almost too good to be true. Getting an actual Black Panther feature film, however? Ordinarily I'd be wary, but Marvel Studios has not had a single misstep, and I'm not counting on this film being its first. It looks incredible. I like that Marvel is also heading in another direction now that they got other sub-genres covered. Tech: Iron Man, Politics: Captain America, Legendary: Thor, Action: Avengers, Magical/Mystical: Doctor Strange, Teen Angst: Spider-Man, Science Fiction: Guardians of the Galaxy... and now for Marvel's take on international intrigue done James Bond style, Black Panther. It's just all so perfect...

I actually prefer the teaser trailer below to the final official trailer above, because it sets up Wakanda for what it is in the Marvel Universe: The wealthiest, most technologically advanced society on earth, and one of the planet's biggest secrets...

   
APRIL 13: New Mutants
I like the idea of super-hero movies heading into horror territory, but not sure what to think of the trailer for New Mutants, which probably doesn't go far enough to make it worthwhile as a horror film. And quite possibly not far enough as a super-hero film either. But, hey, fingers crossed, as I really like the "Demon Bear" comic book storyline which this is rumored to follow...

   
MAY 4: Avengers: Infinity War
And here we are... what all the Marvel Studios films to date have been leading up to. I have incredibly high expectations, which I fully expect to be exceeded...

   
MAY 18: Deadpool 2
The first Deadpool was a pleasant surprise. Wonderfully faithful to the original comic book and starring the most perfect casting yet seen on film, the movie was a mega-blockbuster smash that deserved every penny it made...

   
JULY 6: Ant Man and The Wasp
When talking about the different sub-genres that Marvel Studios has been running through above, one that I left out was "fun" the original Ant-Man movie was a seriously fun caper flick. The sequel looks to be more of the same, but without the need for an origin story, which means it should be better than the original. I'm certainly counting on it...

   
OCTOBER 5: Venom
While I generally enjoyed the first two Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films, the franchise majorly shit the bed with Sam Raimi's third installment which (attempted) to bring the massively popular villain, Venom on the silver screen. It was done badly, which was a shame. Venom can be an interesting character when handled right. To do that, they brought in director Ruben Fleischer and cast Bane himself, Tom Hardy, in the lead role. Apparently the movie's story will be based on the "Planet of the Symbiotes" comic book stories, which means über-villain Carnage will be making an appearance. I have no clue if this will be any good but, if the reviews aren't tragic, I'll probably take a look.

   
NOVEMBER 21: X-Men: Dark Phoenix
I can only guess that this is an attempt to make up for the pile of shit that was X-Men 3: Last Stand, which attempted to touch on the seminal X-Men comic book arc... The Dark Phoenix Saga. But the ultimate villain of X-Men 3 was water (yes, seriously, it was fucking water) which was surprising as it was predictable considering it had Brett Ratner's stank all over it. Which, I suppose is a notch above Bryan Singer stank... but not by much. In any event, it would be nice to see a movie which takes the actual Dark Phoenix Saga seriously, though I'm not holding out too much hope given the laughable joke that X-Men: Apocalypse was... and that young-cast Wolverine doesn't seem to be a part of it...

Dark Phoenix Teaser Poster

   
DECEMBER 21: Aquaman
The fact that this is a film by James Wan and not another Zack Snyder shit-fest gives me a glimmer of hope that he'll pull a Patty Jenkins and make a DC Cinematic Universe film that's worth a crap...

Aquaman Teaser Poster

   
And tah-dah. I wish we got four Marvel Studios films each year. Three just isn't enough. Maybe that will change now that the X-Men franchise characters are back in the fold. At least one would hope so. If Marvel Studios started giving the X-franchise the care they've extended to their other films, we're within striking distance of Avengers vs. X-Men.

   

To Infinity… And Beyond!

Posted on Monday, February 5th, 2018

Dave!I don't watch the Super Bowl. That's probably because I don't give a crap about football. Most years I still have the game on while I work because I want to see the commercials, but this year I figured I'd just watch them all on YouTube after the game. That way I don't have to add to the NFL viewer numbers since I feel that any sport which allows owners to shit all over The United States of America with it's mandated faux-patriotism can go fuck themselves. Colin Kaepernick did not disrespect this country, its people, or our troops when he respectfully took a knee in protest during the National Anthem... and yet he was treated as if he did, and is now paying the price for what became of it. So much for freedom.

Anyway... the one commercial I was wanting to see more than any other was the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War. A movie I am very, very much looking forward to come May...

   
Pretty great, right?

Everybody and their dog will be rushing to analyze every frame of the trailer, so I'm going to take a pass on that. Instead I'm just going to run through the eighteen scenes found therein and offer up my commentary. BE WARNED! If you aren't caught up on the past Marvel Studios films, there may be spoilers ahead...

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

And this is how you do it... lead off with the true promise of this movie: all the various Marvel Studios franchises are coming together in interesting ways. Here Technology, science, and magic are converging in a single shot.

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

The romance between The Scarlet Witch and The Vision is a major staple of the Marvel comic book universe. I'm very, very happy that they've been advancing this in the cinematic universe as well. Though I'm not sure what's going on here. Vision is projecting a human form, which is great... but what's the deal with the stone? Weirdest foreplay ever?

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

Though Thanos had been hinted at in the first Avengers film, he really didn't become a "thing" until Guardians of the Galaxy. There it was revealed he was as the father of both Gamora and Nebula. This firmly cemented Guardians as a part of the narrative build-up for this film, even though it took place in a galaxy far, far away.

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

"It's all been leading to this." Yes. Yes it most definitely has. Interesting to note that Bruce Banner somehow made it back to earth ahead of Thor, which is a little surprising considering they were last seen together in space. As an aside... what's with Tony Stark having an Arc Reactor in his chest again? that was removed in Iron Man 3.

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

One can only guess that the post-credits scene in Thor: Ragnarok has Thanos destroying the space ark with all the Asgardians on it, and only Thor survived to be picked up by The Guardians. That would suck, considering the destruction of Asgard itself has already punched Thor in the gut. But even more so because that means Korg probably perished with them. It's strongly hinted that time travel is going to play a part in the movie, so maybe dead isn't dead, just like the comic books. If so... dare we hope for a Quicksilver appearance?

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

If there's anybody who should be worried about Thanos showing up, it's Loki, who failed to secure The Tesseract for him way back in the first Avengers film. Maybe the fact that he managed to swipe it from Asgard before it went boom will be enough for him to be spared being killed?

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

Spider-Man, once again biting off more than he can chew. No telling how he managed to get up to the big dimensional portal device(?) that appeared above NYC, but it's weird to think that he would think there's anything he could do about it. But, that's what makes him a hero... he has to try. And, thanks to his Spider-Sense, he knows it's a bad, bad thing.

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

Black Widow was originally Team Iron Man in Civil War, but switched to Team Cap at the end. The Vision was always Team Iron Man, which means this is undoubtedly a scene from later in the movie when everybody has become friends again?

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

For anybody wondering if Thor losing an eye at the end of Ragnarok would be carried over to this film, here's your answer.

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

Fanboys are up in arms over Cap's new "shield" being this thing. I can't help but agree it's a shitty move. One of the coolest thing about his shield (other than being indestructible, of course) is that he can toss it like a Frisbee thanks to its saucer-like aerodynamics. Hopefully he gets the shield back somewhere along the line.

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

And so Tony Stark now has armor that chika-chika-chikas into place like Black Panther? More practical, of course, but not nearly as much fun. Until now, it's been a mechanical process that very much comes down to him donning a suit of armor to do battle. This is a lazy cop-out when it comes to storytelling.

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

Is it sad that I want Teen Groot to be blown to pieces so we can start over with Baby Groot again? Oh how I loved Baby Groot!

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

Nebula wants Thanos dead more than anybody else in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe. She also probably knows Thanos better than anybody else in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe. I'm really hoping that she gets thrust into the spotlight in this film as she deserves to. Keeping her in the background can't possibly service the story they are telling. But, comparatively speaking, she's small potatoes amongst the cast, so who knows.

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

Not a fan of Black Widow as a blonde. Yes, they've changed her hair in every movie she's appeared in. Yes, she's a spy and it's feasible she was undercover as a blonde just as events of the movie open. But dammit, Black Widow is a red-head! And, while we're here, I'd just like to say that the rumors of Black Widow finally getting her own movie after being a guest in like... every other movie... had better be happening.

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

Well, it's Bucky. Awakened from his deep-freeze and fighting for Wakanda. Best of luck there, Buck.

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

And here's the money shot for me. Dr. Strange, Wong, and Iron Man teaming up in battle. THIS is what Avengers: Infinity War is truly about... having all the various Marvel Cinematic Universe pieces coming together in cool ways. I am all fangirling out at this point.

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

Remember... before you get all sucked into the Infinity War hype... Black Panther is coming out in a mere eleven days. WAKANDA FOREVER! — And, can I just say one more time how utterly silly and stupid Cap's "arm shields" look? No? Okay.

   
Avengers Infinity War Trailer Still

Thanos! Why U mad, bro? Black Panther scratch your face? Seriously, I'm asking... I don't recall seeing those scratches before.

   
Annnnnnd... scene. See you in May, Avenger!

   

All The Stars Are Closer

Posted on Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

Dave!And so... it would seem that Black Panther is going to kick ass in more than just the writing, directing, acting, visuals, and special effects.

The songs from the soundtrack released so far have been incredible and, as if that wasn't enough, the video for All the Stars by Kendrick Lamar and SZA has dropped, and it is absolutely mind-blowing beautiful...

   
Seriously, the artistry here is nothing short of feature film worthy, and I cannot stop looking at it. Every frame is a sublime work of art...

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

Kendrick Lamar and SZA All the Stars from the Black Panther Soundtrack

   
Stunning work by Dave Meyers and the little homies.

   

“You’re Dumbo!”

Posted on Friday, February 9th, 2018

Dave!Thor: Ragnarok was my favorite movie of 2017 by a wide margin. It was smart, imaginative, and funny in a way that most films never reach, and the fact that they somehow got that out of a super-hero movie is pretty remarkable.

Ragnarok hits home video on February 20th (DVD and Blu-Ray in March, I think). Needless to say, I can't wait. Especially when I saw this deleted scene making its way around the internet where Jeff Goldblum is being his most Jeff Goldblumiest...

Scenes this good have had entire movies built around them. In this movie, it's a deleted scene. Unbelievable.

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Bullet Sunday 540

Posted on Sunday, February 11th, 2018

Dave!Spring is just around the corner... so better prepare yourself, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Priced to Move! And... Blade Runner 2049 just dropped to $15 on iTunes. Knew it wouldn't stay at $20 forever given how badly they need to make up for the poor box office showing. Such a shame. I loved this movie. Yes, it ran a bit too long in parts and was in desperate need of further editing, but it ultimately pays off I think. Beautiful film...

Blade Runner 2049 Poster

The sound mix on Blade Runner 2049 is one of the best I've ever heard. Completely immersive, and all channels are beautifully distinct or blended as required. My cats are more than a little confused by the effectiveness of the spatial sound.

   
• No! Got a call from the Democratic party this past week wanting donations. My response? "Democrats representing my state are running off lobbyist money and obviously don't need my help. Why don't you go ask Patty Murray's Big Pharma friends for money and leave me the hell out of it. Take me off your call list and never, EVER call me for money again." Hopefully that will scare them off, just like I've already scared off the Republicans. Since I am not party-affiliated and vote for /donate to both of them, I have double the bullshit to deal with. I will never allow a political party to send my money to corrupt assholes in the pocket of lobbyists... from now on, I donate to specific candidates I feel are worth it. Not that there's many of them left.

   
• Good! Despite the fast that The Good Doctor was created by David Shore, I held off watching it because I have a friend whose son is autistic, and I don't like the idea of the struggles that autistic persons go through being exploited for entertainment. Then this past week I finally decided to take a look and was just amazed...

The Good Doctor Poster

It's a very good show and didn't seem exploitative at all. I binged all 14 episodes I had. If you're not watching and like medical dramas, it's worth a look.

   
• Bio! And speaking of good television shows... iTunes has a free preview of A.P. Bio which stars Glenn Howerton (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and That 80's Show) as a teacher who is stuck in Ohio once his Harvard dream job passes him by. The result is actually funny... but also smart and even touching...

These things always look so stupid. When they turn out to be more than that, it's such a pleasant surprise. Patton Oswald is just the icing on the cake.

   
• Jones! And it seems as though Netflix will be keeping my monthly fee for.a while longer... new Jessica Jones is coming next month...

It's been revealed that Disney has no plans to take over the Netflix Marvel shows and move them to their new streaming service. Thankfully. Don't fix what's not broken. The Netflix shows are mostly awesome, unlike the ABC Television shows which suck ass.

   
• Unmolded! When I had my home renovated, I hired a fairly pricey contractor because I didn't want crap falling apart after a year. For the most part, I think it was a smart move... though there are some details of their work that pisses me off. Primary of which is the shitty molding installation.

My home has rounded "California Corners" which I hate hate hate. Mostly I just don't like how they look. But also because it made finding molding so difficult that I had to have it all custom made to get the clean and simple look I wanted. It was more money than I wanted to pay, but whatever.

Except... the installation was shitty. The corners were just slapped on there with no attempt made to blend the seams. I caught some of them before painting and sanded them a bit, but most of them had already been done and looked like this...

California Corner Molding Fix

What chaps my ass is that it would have taken minutes to fix this before painting. But, since it wasn't fixed, that means I have to spend considerable more time sanding them out while making sure I'm not damaging the wall or floor...

California Corner Molding Fix

California Corner Molding Fix

But the result is worth it. I'm just one more coat of leveling paint (after the first coat dries) to the seamless molding I should have had from the beginning...

California Corner Molding Fix

One down, eight to go.

   
Until next Bullet Sunday, enjoy winter's last gasp...

   

Overboard Once Again

Posted on Monday, February 12th, 2018

Dave!The Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russel film "Overboard" is one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures. I've seen it dozens of times because I cannot bring myself to turn the channel any time it's on and I need background noise running. Now I see they are remaking it. They've swapped the genders of the original story... but it's the same damn movie...

WHY?!??

Look, I like Anna Farris and all, but she's no Goldie Hawn. And I don't know who the actor is, but he is absolutely no Kurt Russell. And if you're not going to bring anything new to the table, why do it? Is Hollywood really so bankrupt on ideas that this is where they want to sink their money?

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Direct Currents, Brick Edition

Posted on Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Dave!I've made no secret about how much I loathe the current crop of DC Comics movies. With the exception of Wonder Woman, they are bad films that take a massive shit on the original source material. Batman vs. Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League were all gut-wrenchingly awful and only get worse upon subsequent viewings. How DC can fuck up this badly when Marvel is nailing it film after film is a complete mystery to me. It's as if the people in charge of DC movie production have taken what made their characters so popular for so long, and then just done the opposite of that.

Fortunately, the people running DC's television shows are on an entirely different level. Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl are consistently good, and now we get Black Lightning, which may be saddled with a lame disco costume and sub-par villain... but is otherwise fantastic. I'm not particularly fond of Legends of Tomorrow, but it's still a watchable show. Bravo to The CW Network showrunners who totally get what they need to be doing with DC characters to make them work.

What fans need is for The CW to be given rights to a Superman series and a Batman series. Hell, turn the network into The DC Network and give us Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Legion of Super-Heroes shows too! If there's one thing that Tyler Hoechlin's amazing turn as Superman guest starring in Supergirl has shown us, we need these shows.

In the meanwhile though?

I've been completely hooked on the LEGO DC Comics movies. They are not all home runs, but they are great entertainment and totally watchable in a way the Zack-Snyder-infused movies will never be...




   
And so... If you're a DC Comics fan who hasn't checked out the movies that LEGO is cranking out, you might want to give them a try. Sure they're filmed with toys, made for kids, and aren't at all serious... but, until Patty Jenkins becomes showrunner for the DC Cinematic Universe, it's about as good as it's going to get.

Until Wonder Woman 2 comes along, of course.

   

WAKANDA FOREVER!

Posted on Friday, February 16th, 2018

Dave!One of my all-time favorite Marvel super-heroes is coming to the Big Screen. I have never been so ready to see a movie.

It's time for The Black Panther...


LEGO Black Panther Poster

   

No idea when I'll have time to go see it, but hopefully sooner rather than later.

   

Bullet Sunday 541

Posted on Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Dave!I was lying last week when I said that Spring was just around the corner, because Winter reared its ugly head again this weekend... so better really prepare yourself, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Camera Historica! As somebody who loves photography, loves cameras, and loves history, the story of Sean Flynn's Leica M2 camera is an amazing read. It's a short read, and you should stop reading this and go take a look right now...

XXX

After reading this article, I started Googling Sean Flynn because he sounds like such a fascinating person. Turns out he absolutely was. The son of Errol Flynn and Lili Damita, he had an interesting life, a mysterious death, and everything in-between was an effort to forge his own path and find his own way. If you'd like to read more, this article is a good start.

   
• Black Panther Fever! If you're playing LEGO Marvel Super-Heroes 2 (and why wouldn't you be?) then you must get the Black Panther DLC immediately. If not sooner...

I was hoping for an actual Black Panther movie LEGO game, but I guess this will have to do.

   
• Pneumatic! Well this is scary. If you only knew the number of times I've rested my pneumatic nail gun on somebody's head... I never thought that it might be dangerous! You learn something new every day!

Pneumatic Tool Safety

And, as an aside... ZOMG! DID YOU GUYS KNOW YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO EAT TIDE PODS? IT SAYS SO RIGHT ON THE PACKAGE!! WHO KNEW?!? So much is coming to light now that I've started reading stuff!

   
• Chaotic Neutral! Every once in a while I fall down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos. And it's not always just cat videos I'm watching. I stumbled upon this one, which is pretty epic...

This is one of those situations where I'm not sure exactly how to feel after having seen it. I definitely agree that it's the perfect way to explain "Chaotic Neutral" to somebody who isn't familiar with Dungeons & Dragons.

   
• Netflix Binge! I had to work this holiday weekend, but while I was working at home I had Netflix running. Every once in a while I feel the need to watch the service between Marvel shows and seasons of One Day at a Time so that I don't feel bad about paying the monthly fee. Here is what I watched...

  • The Joel McHale Show. ZOMG! Netflix has essentially brought back Talk Soup and it's glorious! I didn't realize how much I missed this show. Guest star cameos galore! Hilarious television fun.
  • Playing it Cool. After watching Chris Evans just kill it in Gifted, The Losers, and as Captain America in all the Marvel movies, I was interested in seeing what else he's been up to that I might not have seen. Playing it Cool was the first I came across. I'm not into RomComs, but have to admit that this was pretty good. Kinda had a different perspective, despite being predictably predictable.
  • Before We Go. Another Chris Evans movie and his directorial debut. So awful. An impossibly long, drawn-out mess of a movie that is boring to a fault, despite having some amazing acting by Evans and Alice Eve. What's sad is that I think Chris Evans would make a hell of a director... he just needs much better material.
  • The Cloverfield Paradox. I haven't been impressed with any of the "Cloverfield" films, despite critical acclaim, and this was really no different. The latest installment seems a mishmash of much better films and is just so weak in story and character development as to kill any investment the horror aspects of the film. A complete dud.
  • Tamborine As a huge fan of Chris Rock, I was excited to see new standup after so long. He's got a lot to say and he says it all. As always, he's funny and painfully socially relevant.
  • A Futile and Stupid Gesture. I admit I took a look at this movie just because I'm a fan of Will Forte and didn't bother investigating anything about it. Turns out it's the story of the rise and fall of National Lampoon Magazine and Doug Kenney. Surprisingly entertaining and well worth watching.
  • Burnt. Bradley Cooper seems to have dropped off the radar after some very high profile films, and I completely missed this movie where he plays a talented chef who implodes, then tries to work his way back to fame and glory by earning a third Michelin star.

   
• Skippy! And speaking of Chris Evans in The Losers, this scene is pretty much perfect...

Such a great character from such a great movie... I wish they would make a sequel.

   
Later, bullet gators!

   

The Black Panther

Posted on Saturday, February 24th, 2018

Dave!For comic book geeks, this truly is the golden age of cinema. On the Marvel side of the aisle, they have been killing it over and over and over again. This time it's with one of my most favorite Marvel heroes, Black Panther.

Given my passion for comic books, this is going to be a long one, so strap yourself in.

From the time I first started reading comic books, I was mostly a "DC Comics guy." This was undoubtedly because of DC being the home of Batman, probably my favorite super-hero. Batman doesn't have any powers except being absurdly rich, and yet he can hold his own on any super-team against even the most powerful villains. He made me think that I could be a super-hero too one day... all I needed was millions of dollars and a butler.

When I branched out into Marvel comics, it was a very different world. Sure their stories happened in a real place like New York City and not a fictional one like Metropolis or Gotham City, but that was just geography. To a kid in central Washington State, New York might as well have been the moon (home of The Inhumans!). The fact that Marvel tried to give larger-than-life heroes mundane problems was kind of lost on me. Spider-Man has all these amazing powers where he could earn hundreds of thousands of dollars as a body guard, but he chooses to be a struggling photographer? What sense does that make? Superman may live a mundane life as Clark Kent, but at least he had the sense to pick a career where he could pay the rent.

It went on and on like that for me with Marvel, the X-Men being the most perplexing of all. They never got tired of being persecuted as mutants, even with all the powers they possessed. I mean, yeah, many of them had human parents that probably made them sympathetic to the plight of mere humans... but come on. That's a plot point that gets really old, really fast.

There were two exceptions with Marvel, however.

  1. Doctor Strange whose magical world was far more fascinating to me than anything Dr. Fate was ever given to do over at DC Comics.
  2. Black Panther who was nothing like any other super-hero I had ever seen.

Doctor Strange already had his own fantastic movie, and now it's Black Panther's turn.

At last.

Black Panther by Jack Kirby

For those who have not yet seen the film, my spoiler-free review would have to be "It's faithful to the source material with plenty of nods to the comics... along with being wonderfully written, superbly cast, beautifully filmed, and fully realized... all while being painfully socially relevant." I seriously loved every frame of it, and Ryan Ryan Coogler, his team, and his cast deserves every bit of praise being sent their way.

For everybody else?

Spoiler Zone!

Alrighty then.

Prior to seeing Black Panther I pretty much knew what to expect. King T'Chaka was killed in Captain America: Civil War, his son T'Challa returned to Wakanda to become king... and somewhere along the way Killmonger shows up to ruin his day. And since we all know that Black Panther and many characters from his film will be showing up in Avengers: Infinity War, it's a forgone conclusion that T'Challa comes out on top. The hero wins. The villain dies. End of story. Right?

Surprisingly? It's not quite so cut-and-dry at that.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. You'll find my thoughts on Black Panther in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Bullet Sunday 542

Posted on Sunday, February 25th, 2018

Dave!Prepare yourself, because a Very Special BLACK PANTHER EDITION of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Art! One of the best things about Black Panther is the production design. A lot of what went into that is explored in yet another wonderful edition of Marvel Studio's Art of the Movie books, which somebody on YouTube was kind enough to thumb through...

There's very little of the book that's not fascinating... or gorgeous...

Black Panther Art of the Movie Page

I own the entire series and love them. You can pick up the absolutely beautiful Black Panther edition from Amazon.

   
• Trevor! The detractors for Black Panther have been pretty stupid about it. I mean, if you don't like the movie, fine... to each their own. But the whole "This movie is racist because it's mostly Black people" is laughably stupid. My favorite commentary on this was by Trevor Noah from The Daily Show...

Speaking of Trevor Noah, if you haven't read or, better yet, listened to the audiobook of his Born a Crime, then it is absolutely worth your valuable time to do so. While interviewing Lupita Nyong'o for Black Panther, it was revealed that she will be producing and playing his mother in the movie adaptation...

Can't wait!

   
• Mother! Speaking of audiobooks, a momentary aside... I am just now finding out that Jenifer Lewis released a book last month called The Mother of Black Hollywood. Whether you know her as Ruby from Blackish or one of her many roles over nearly 30 years in Hollywood, it is so good...

Here is Jenifer Lewis being Jenifer Lewis... while plugging her book (and other things)...

If you want to be entertained for hours, search for "Jenifer Lewis" on YouTube and prepare yourself. This video is an hour of amazing...

I have only just started listening to the audiobook, but it is fantastic already. If you are a member of Audible, it's worth a credit. If you are not a member of Audible, you get a FREE credit when you sign up! Go do that and get this book!

   
• Comics! If you've seen the movie (and I'm assuming you have), there's a lot more to the story in the original comic books. Here's my four favorite series...

Black Panther Comic Book Covers

  • Black Panther by Christopher Priest (Vol. 1 Amazon link).
    During his epic run on the character, Priest defined and redefined a lot of what we know today about Black Panther. The movie owes a lot to his work on the character.
  • Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Amazon Link).
    Having a writer of Coates' caliber take over Black Panther is the gift that keeps on giving. The beautiful art by Brian Stelfreeze is just the icing on the cake.
  • Who is The Black Panther? by Reginald Hudlin (Amazon Link)
    I like this series because it has a good ties between Black Panther and the rest of the Marvel Universe. They actually made this into a motion-comic you can watch.
  • Black Panther: Masterworks by Don McGregor (Vol. 1 Amazon Link)
    Here it is... the 1970's masterwork that gave us an epic story arc that's just as thrilling today as it ever was: Panther's Rage.

I would be remiss if I didn't add Jack Kirby's work on the Black Panther, which is also an important read.

   
• Wrong Panther! It'll be reiterated below, but I think it important to state it here: There is NO relation between the Black Panther of the comic books and the Black Panther Party. And yet... I've seen this pop up more times than I can count online.

   
• Panther Facts! Let's wrap up this Bullet Sunday with a list of interesting Black Panther bullets, courtesy of Kevin E. Ross, who has asked that people share it...

  • The Black Panther (real name: T'Challa) is the first mainstream black superhero ever. He was created by Marvel Comics and the team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the same two responsible for heroes like Thor, the Fantastic Four, and Captain America.
  • Created in 1966 during the turbulent Civil Rights era, he is the first black superhero not created as an "token," a dependent, or a sidekick. This was considered extremely controversial for the time period. He predates Captain America's Falcon (1969) and Luke Cage (1971). He also preceded the revolutionary activist group the Black Panther Party by 3 months (he was introduced in July of 1966, and the Black Panther Party in October of 1966. They were not connected).
  • T'Challa (his real name), is also the ruler of a fictional African kingdom called Wakanda (population 6,000,000). Wakanda is considered one of the wealthiest nations on Earth as well as one of the most technologically-advanced. Imagine if Disney World's Tomorrowland and the Rainforest Cafe merged.
  • Wakanda's wealth is the result of a meteorite that crashed on to the continent 10,000 years ago. Composed of a rare alien material called Vibranium, the metal is sought by many in the world for its scientific applications and its military capabilities. It is only available in Wakanda, thus the country keeps itself closed and shielded from the outside world. Vibranium basically absorbs any energy directed towards it and holds it like a sponge. Imagine buildings that wouldn't crumble under the force of an earthquake, or soldiers protected against explosions from grenades and other explosive devices. Wakanda does export other commodities such as coal, diamonds, and technology, which contributes to its worth.
  • Wakanda has tons of vibranium in underground storage. One gram of vibranium is worth $10,000. That means Captain America's 12-pound shield, which is composed of the material, is worth just over $54 million dollars.
  • Being the monarch of the world's richest nation also makes you rich. T'Challa's net worth is $90.7 trillion dollars, which makes him richer than Batman's Bruce Wayne (9.2 billion) or fellow Marvel running mate Tony "Iron Man" Stark (12.4 billion). By a lot.
  • In the comics, the Black Panther is also one of the most well-respected men in the world. He is a combination of nobility (Thor), patriotism (Captain America), and superior intellect (Iron Man). He is also an Oxford graduate with a PhD in physics and is considered one of the top-5 minds on the planet.
  • The Black Panther is more than the special costume he wears. He is also a world-class athlete who was trained in martial arts, judo, wrestling (a popular Wakandan sport), and all forms of hand-to-hand combat. He also has enhanced healing properties, strength, speed, agility, and tracking senses. This is the result of ingesting a special heart-shaped herb that grows only around the site of the crashed vibranium meteorite. The radiation from the meteorite produces the plant which, once ingested, gives the recipient the aforementioned special abilities. Only those in the royal hierarchy and heirs to the panther mantle are eligible to use it. This means that the Black Panther has absolutely no problem going toe-to-toe with Captain America, who is considered the world's best hand-to-hand combatant and fighter.
  • Steeped deep in African tradition, Wakandans worship Bast, a female deity known also as the Panther God. The symbolic mythology here is also directly connected to ancient Egypt. She is revered as a protector and defender of the nation. This makes the Black Panther her agent outside the spirit realm, and thus more than a hero, but a true mythical figure. Imagine if the Pope wore a costume, had superhuman abilities, and defended the Vatican from its enemies both foreign and domestic.
  • Because of Bast, Wakandan women are highly-respected. The king's personal guard, the Dora Milaje, are an elite female fighting force. T'Challa's younger sister Shuri is a genius level intellect and considered one of the smartest women on the planet. Not only does she give the Black Panthers technologically-advanced suit & tech superior upgrades, but also other inventions to help further her country's technological dominance. While Tony Stark, who is considered one of the smartest men on the planet, graduated from MIT at age 17, he did not invent the Iron Man suit until age 42. By contrast, Shuri is only 16 years old.
  • In the comic books, the Black Panther was briefly married to Storm of the X-Men (remember Halle Berry?). Storm was from Wakanda's African neighbor Kenya (but grew up in Cairo, Egypt).

   
Until next week... WAKANDA FOREVER!

   

Strange Days Have Found Us

Posted on Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

Dave!My love of movies runs the gamut. There's something in just about every genre that I have found to like. Science fiction, animation, and comedies are my favorite, but I have favorites in action, mystery, drama, musical, adventure, fantasy, romance, spy, thriller, horror, biography, Western... even period dramas and (my least favorite) war.

There's a number of underappreciated films that I obsess over which I have no earthly idea why they're underappreciated. I mean, some of them, I get. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is a brilliant film that I love dearly (hell, a quote from it is tattooed on my arm). It is also one of the most bizarre mainstream releases ever, and it's no surprise that it's been relegated to cult classic...

No matter where you go... there you are.

   
But one underappreciated movie I absolutely do not understand why is underappreciated is the 1995 film Strange Days...

Strange Days Movie Poster

   
This future-noir film (bordering on cyberpunk) which takes place in the final days of 1999 should have been a blockbuster. It was written by James Cameron, who is responsible for The Terminator, Titanic, and Avatar (among others). It was directed by none other than Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow, who is responsible for The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. It stars Oscar-nominated Ralph Fiennes, Oscar-nominated Angela Bassett, and Oscar-nominated Juliette Lewis. It also features revolutionary camera work which shouldn't have been possible in 1995. As if all that wasn't enough, it's just a really good movie.

And yet... Strange Days was a huge flop. A massively huge flop. It grossed $8 million against a budget of $42 million.

Recently while talking to a friend, I was reminded of it and decided to watch it again.

Which isn't as easy as you'd think, because Strange Days is not available domestically on Blu-Ray or any digital format. This is due to conflicting studio distribution rights or some stupid crap. And since it stunk up the box office, the desire to spend money and effort getting it all straightened out is minimal, I'm sure. It's only available on VHS, LaserDisc, and DVD. I own all of them. I also own a German Blu-Ray import, but I have no idea where my region-code-free Blu-Ray player is at.

DVD it is...

Strange Days DVD Menu Screen

   
Strange Days is surprisingly relevant 22 years after it was released... and 18 years after it takes place.

Much of the plot involves the future of how we consume entertainment, but there are significant story elements which revolve around police corruption and racism. It's a movie designed for the times we live. Which is to say it was most definitely a movie ahead of its time despite the fact that police corruption and racism are hardly new.

If you haven't seen it and can find a copy somehow, it's definitely worth a look.

Anyway… as if all that wasn’t enough, the soundtrack still holds up and is pretty great. One of my favorite tracks is a collaboration between Peter Gabriel and Deep Forest called While the Earth Sleeps that plays over the closing credits…

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Good Bye Apple TV?

Posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Dave!Yesterday I talked about finally being able to dump Apple's home automation disaster, HomeKit. Today I'm contemplating dumping Apple TV for a number of reasons...

First of all, the streaming quality of shows purchased through Apple iTunes is awful... assuming you can get them to stream at all. Do you know how many times I've gone to watch a movie or TV Show I've purchased, only to have Apple TV go catatonic? Do you know how many times I've been watching something only to have Apple TV suddenly stop streaming and then not start again unless I reset everything? And when I complain? Apple blames my internet connection. Without fail. But here's the thing... ALL OTHER STREAMING SERVICES WORK FINE! Even on Apple TV! Episodes of The West Wing I've purchased from Apple won't stream. But episodes of The West Wing stream just fine through the Netflix app... ON MY APPLE TV!!! The problem clearly isn't my internet connection. The problem is that Apple has billions of dollars but can't build a content delivery system that's worth a shit.

Second of all... digital purchases from Apple iTunes are almost always more expensive than purchasing them elsewhere. Movies that are $19.99 at the iTunes Store can be purchased at Vudu or Amazon or wherever for $12.99. Now, the one thing Apple has that other don't (yet) is a no-charge upgrade to 4K and HDR content. But what good is it if you can't watch it?

But the worst offense of all with Apple TV? Apple is happy to take your money, but they absolutely, positively do not give a shit about making sure you get what you pay for.

As an example... I use the Sundance Now app on my Apple TV to watch a show called This Close. I purchased my subscription through my Apple TV and pay my $6.99 a month to Apple. But when Sundance Now is suddenly asking me for a login... but I don't have a login because I purchased through Apple TV... Apple says "Sorry, you have to contact Sundance Now because it's their app." Except... I'm not paying Sundance Now. I'm paying Apple. And the best that Apple can do is cancel my subscription. Problem is... I'm paid up through March 21st. If Apple cancels my subscription, I'm losing almost a month of subscription I've paid for. Their response?

Apple Don't Give a Shit

That's right. They can't guarantee that they can refund me money THEY TOOK for something I CAN'T ACCESS because their only solution is to TERMINATE MY SUBSCRIPTION on THEIR PRODUCT using apps that THEY AUTHORIZE.

What a garbage company.

But here's my dilemma...

All my movie purchases through Apple are safe because Apple is a part of the "Movies Now" collective. I can watch any of my movie purchases on any other device which supports a vendor that is also a "Movies Anywhere" member.

But what about the hundreds of TV shows I've purchased?

I have no idea. I'd ask Apple to refund all my money for all the shows I've ever purchased... but we've already seen how they treat me over a $6.99 subscription fee, so that's probably out of the question.

I remember the days when Apple was an amazing company which stood behind its products. If I had a problem with something I purchased... they fixed it. Or they refunded my money. Or they made it right somehow. Now? I get the feeling they couldn't care less about their customers. Which wouldn't be such a big problem if anything they made was worth a crap now-a-days. But that's not really true, is it? Used to be you could trust Apple products to "just work." That hasn't been the case in years.

The Apple hasn't just fallen from the tree once Steve Jobs left us... it's rotted and turned to mush.

UPDATE: Just to give you an idea of how utterly shitty a product Apple TV is, I ended up purchasing a "smart plug" so I can cut the power and restart the unit when it goes catatonic. Yes, it happens often enough that spending $13 was a worthwhile investment. First the screen goes black. Then the screen goes white. Then it tries to load... something... then it fails and goes black again... lather, rinse, repeat. Over and over until I get up and unplug it, then plug it back in again. Hence... the smart plug so I don't have to climb behind my media center each time this happens...

AppleTV Goes White

Of course, then the Apple TV gives me this...

AppleTV Goes Reset

I regret ever having purchased Apple TV. Version 1. Version 2. Version 3. And Version 4. I absolutely regret having spent money buying media from Apple. You'd think I'd finally learn something here... maybe now I finally am.

   

SONOS and PLAYBAR: Part 6 of 5

Posted on Saturday, March 17th, 2018

Dave!Welcome to Sonos Week here at Blogography! Each day I will be talking about my leap to the Sonos platform for "smart speakers" and how it integrates with Amazon's Alexa assistant. If you haven't read past entries in Sonos Week, you'll probably want to start at the beginning by clicking here.

And now on with the show...

"Dodge this."

When I started SONOS WEEK here at Blogography, I broke down what I wanted to say into five parts. Little did I know that a sixth part would unexpectedly appear.

Sonos gear is incredibly expensive. Whether it's worth the money is debatable. Given what it can do and how it works, it was worth it to me and my needs. I was able to afford the $350 for the pair of Sonos One speakers because I had a $120 credit at Amazon plus some tax refund money. And while I thought I might buy more pieces eventually, it was not on my radar. I have a nice Denon receiver plus a decent speaker setup and a living room wired for surround sound, and that's more than enough.

But then I had a long-time online friend notice I was reviewing Sonos on my blog who offered to sell me his PLAYBAR for cheap (well, maybe not "cheap," but for less than I could buy it new). He had upgraded to a Dolby Atmos 7.1 setup (Sonos can only do 5.1) and his PLAYBAR was sitting in his attic.

He had all the original packaging and said it was in perfect condition, so I said "Wrap it up, I'll take it."

The next day the UPS driver paid a visit and Christmas morning came early.

I anticipated that setting things up would be a bit problematic because I was having to shuffle around my existing Sonos speakers to get a surround sound system. The PLAYBAR would become the Left, Right, and Center channels... my existing Sonos One speakers (from the living room and kitchen) would become the Rear-Left and Rear-Right channels. Turns out it wasn't a problem at all. I plugged in the PLAYBAR, used the Sonos app to set it up, then was asked if I had rear speakers. Since I did, I tapped a button on the backs of them when instructed and everything was reconfigured for me automatically. Such is the joy of Sonos.

I was worried that a single PLAYBAR speaker taking the place of three speakers would destroy the stereo separation I was used to, but that was not the case at all. The Left, Right, and Center channels were fairly distinct after TruePlay tuning. The rear channels being in separate speakers were even more distinct, as expected. My go-to movie for demonstrating surround-sound is The Matrix, and it sounded terrific through Sonos.

It's a great system and the amount of wires and crap it replaces is very cool...

Bunch of old speaker stuff.
Denon receiver: $500 - Speakers: $300 - I should have just bought the $700 PLAYBAR to begin with.

   

There are some caveats to PLAYBAR, however...

  • Sonos does not support DTS, a popular multichannel sound system. A friend warned me about this ahead of time but I still find it more than a little shocking. Many an audiophile loves their DTS, and Sonos not implementing it is kinda weird. If you buy DVD or Blu-Ray for their DTS encoding option, PLAYBAR ain't for you.
  • Sonos also does not support PCM, DD+, or Dolby Atmos (among others). All you get is regular stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. If your devices can't output or convert to these formats, they won't work (I lucked out... my Blu-Ray player can be set to encode all outgoing sound as Dolby Digital).
  • PLAYBAR only supports an optical TOSLINK connection. Nothing else. Nothing. I was fully expecting to plug my devices in via HDMI cables or a single cable from the HDMI ARC port on my television. Nope. The only ports on your PLAYBAR are two ethernet ports and the single optical-in port.
  • With that in mind... some televisions don't have optical output... most televisions don't output 5.1 sound via their optical port. When I saw this was my only option, I nearly shit myself because I had no idea if my TV downgraded its optical sound to 2-channel stereo or not. I scrambled to Google it, but couldn't find my model listed anywhere. When I did find a list, all the Samsung televisions said No-No-No-No-No-No-No. Since HDMI is a current standard and optical is antiquated, this is a problem I never even considered. Turns out my particular TV is one of the rare Samsung models which can output Dolby Digital 5.1 via optical, but holy crap!
  • The PLAYBAR debuted in 2013. I don't think it has been updated since then. This means its aesthetic does not match the current black-on-black scheme which my Sonos One speakers use (along with the PLAY:5 and PLAYBASE). I'm not saying the thing is ugly... far from it, this is one beautiful piece of equipment... but it's kind of lame that even if you're buying a brand new unit you can't get a matching system. Mine are on opposite sides of the room, so it's not a big deal, but still. Would be nice if you could buy a strip to put across the metal piece so it can match.
  • The fabric covering the speaker array is a thin, stretchy dust-magnet and tough to clean. Sonos recommends vacuuming it, but if something won't vacuum off, you're kinda screwed. I used a damp towel to brush it in spots, which was better, but I worry about how the fabric is going to end up looking after years of service. There are so many audio-neutral fabrics out there which are much tougher... the choice they used here is perplexing. Ideally, Sonos would use a metal grill like they do on their other speakers.
  • The PLAYBAR is designed to sit on a table in front of your TV or be hung on a wall above or below it. The friend I bought it from said that it sounds much better on the wall. This meant I had to order some mounting hardware ($40 down the drain) and an electrical-code-compliant kit for putting the wiring in the wall ($50 down the drain). I'd like to mount it above my TV so my cats can't mess with it... but I think that's weird, so I'll end up mounting it below. Then pray my cats don't claw at the flimsy fabric mesh.
  • When it comes to music, I'm not so enamored with the PLAYBAR. I don't know what it's trying to do with the stereo separation, but it feels lacking. Fortunately I've got my two Sonos Ones in the rear channel to pick up the slack. If you're in a large room, you'd probably want a pair of PLAY:3 speakers in the rear for music (which would be expensive, but totally doable).

Some really nice things about PLAYBAR before I go...

Sonos PLAYBAR Exploded View

  • The sound on this thing, as I said, is very nice. Its nine-speaker array can separate sounds well and come in a good-looking package.
  • The "Speech Enhancement" option on PLAYBAR is surprisingly good. No more having to crank the volume to hear dialogue. I've always hated having to do that, but have found all the "enhancers" I've run across don't do a very good job. It seems to work with Sonos, probably because their speaker quality allows it to be good. On my wishlist... a way to temper it to a lower setting because on some movies it can be a bit too powerful.
  • In my old setup I had a subwoofer because the bass wasn't very punchy on my stereo. I like to feel the rumble of an explosion when I'm watching a movie. With PLAYBAR I'm liking the bass just fine. If my opinion ever changes, I can get a Sonos SUB. But for right now? I'm happy to save myself the $700.
  • I can't overstate how easy PLAYBAR is to set up. It's a simple step-by-step process with the Sonos app. Most things are handled automatically.

One horrible downside for me is that I lost my kitchen Sonos One speaker so it could fill out my rear channel. No more listening to music while I cook dinner or load the dishwasher. Replacing it is another $200, so that's the end of that.

The good news? Now that I could put my Amazon Echo in my bedroom and my Echo Dot in my garage, I have Alexa in every room of my house. All I need now is to embed an Echo Dot inside my brain and I guess I'm set.

Meanwhile, Neo has just realized he's The One and a fight has ensued, so I gotta get back to The Matrix.

   
UPDATE: And so my POWERBAR mounting kit came. It's pretty basic for $40... just a metal plate and some drywall screws. But it does the job. Kinda. There's a major problem with it.

Electrical codes make it illegal to run a power cable behind a wall. You have to purchase a electrical outlet wall kit which is code compliant. Then you can plug stuff into the outlet. But the six-foot power cable that came with my POWERBAR can't fit behind the speakers, so it has to hang below it in a big wad...

Bunch of old speaker stuff.

Kinda defeats the whole purpose. You'd think that since SONOS makes you buy a kit to wall-mount the thing that they would include a tiny power cable with it. Assumably they know that you can't run the cable in the wall, right? I mean, come on, every single photo they ever show of their stuff being wall-mounted shows the cables hidden in the wall... so how are they doing it? No frickin' clue since I can't find where they sell a short power cable anywhere. Maybe they don't care about complying with the electrical code and are mounting their stuff illegally.

I've emailed Sonos Customer Service, so I guess we'll see what they say.

UPDATE: Sonos Customer Service is all... "Uhhhh... nope, we don't sell that. We hire professional installers for our photos and they use adhesives and stuff to hide the wires!" (or something to that effect). Well, whatever. It really chaps my ass that Sonos has most every damn photo with the wires hidden, yet it's something they don't really provide for.

UPDATE: I found a Dell laptop 4.5-inch power cable that works much better than the 6-foot cord from Sonos. The plug is a tad too long, so it sticks out at the bottom a tiny bit, but it's better than the wad of Sonos cable I was dealing with. Hopefully one day Sonos will get off their asses and sell a short power cable with a small plug so you can legally get hidden wire mounting like they show in all their photos.

UPDATE: I have given up on wall-mounting my Sonos One speakers. With no screw-mount on the back, the solutions I've found are far from pretty. Furthermore, even if you buy short power cables, there's no really solution to bury the cables legally... at least not yet. Instead I'm using two IKEA 4-drawer shoe cabinets that are only 8 5/8-inches deep, wall-mounted, to put my Sonos One speakers on. They are the perfect height for the speakers to rise above my couch, but not so tall that they take up a lot of wall space. By drilling new holes to shift the top board, they can be set side-by-side. And once I drill holes in the top boards for power cables, they drop through and are completely hidden. Best solution I could find given hiding power cables in the wall was not an option for me.

   

Bullet Sunday 545

Posted on Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Dave!Don't click that "Back Button" just yet, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• To Infinity! And so... here we are. A little over a month until the beginning of the end. Ten years of build-up all comes down to Avengers: Infinity War in April and its sequel next year...

So much to unpack here, which is not surprising considering the final movie has a runtime is 2 hours 36 minutes.

   
• A Brief History of Time. Stephen Hawking is gone! So remarkable that he managed to live so long with a disease which he was told would kill him decades ago. And look what his brilliant mind accomplished while trapped in a body which betrayed him! That he was a character on The Simpsons is just icing on the cake. An amazing, amazing man...

Stephen Hawking on The Simpsons

And funny...

Rest in peace, sir.

   
• LOLZ! Probably the funniest thing I've ever seen on Twitter...

Sarah Silverman Tweet

And yet... this is utterly insane as well. How in the hell do you confuse Kumail Nanjiani, Kunal Nayyar, and Kal Penn? They look nothing alike! I guess some people just see skin color and don't look any further.

   
• Fourth World! Looks like DC is finally moving past Zack Snyder's laughably bad take on super-heroes. After Patty Jenkins hit gold with Wonder Woman, they're striking a deal with another celebrated woman to helm New Gods for the big screen. Congrats to Ava DuVernay! My first choice would be Taika Waititi since his love letter to Jack Kirby in Thor: Ragnarok was so perfect... but this is a great choice too...

Kirby New Gods Cover

It will be interesting to see if DuVernay goes full-on Kirby or heads in another direction entirely.

   
• Incredible! ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG... It's REAL!

Incredibles LEGO Game

Needless to say, I want want want want this game!

   
• Chain Gang! Since subscribing to Amazon Music Unlimited, I've been going a bit crazy over music. Now that I have "tens of millions" of songs available anytime, anywhere, I'm asking Alexa to play esoteric stuff all day long that it would never have occurred to me to play before I subscribed. Something pops in my head? Play it Hear a song mentioned somewhere? Play it. Song pops up on a commercial? Play it. For the past two days I've been obsessed with Sam Cooke. He was mentioned on an episode of The West Wing, and I've been listening to everything available ever since. So many songs of his I recognize but never really knew where they came from.

 

Such an amazing talent. Which makes the bizarre circumstances of his death even more tragic.

   
Until next Sunday then...

   

Bullet Sunday 546

Posted on Sunday, March 25th, 2018

Dave!Welcome to the place where the kisses are hers are his and hers and Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Paint! Really good television ads are so rare that they might as well be said not to exist. I certainly spend enough time fast-forwarding through crappy ads. Which is why running across one that's a joy to watch is so great...

Computer animation is getting cheaper and easier every day. But coming up with ideas to use it for effective advertising is as tough as its always been. Congrats, Sherwin-Williams for putting your ad dollars to such good use.

   
• LEGOtron! This new LEGO set is amazing, though I wish it was from the original film instead of the Tron: Legacy sequel...

LEGO Tron Legacy

LEGO Tron Legacy

Oh please oh please oh please can we get a LEGO TRON video game?

   
• FAIL! Don't get me wrong... I love that I can get some fairly decent quality furniture at good prices thanks to IKEA... but their quality has taken a total nose-dive. For the third time now I've purchased something that had a mistake in it. This time they stained the wrong edge of a board, leaving the front edge bare...

IKEA Fail... AGAIN!

Given that it's a 3-hour drive back to the Renton showroom, here's hoping that they are able to send me a replacement part in the mail.

   
• Mr Pool! As the rare X-men film that was actually worth a crap, I loved Deadpool. The sequel is looking even better...

No telling what could happen if Marvel gets the movie rights back for all their mutant comics. Hopefully it's a complete reboot with some decent films which know how to respect the source material.

   
• Krapton! And speaking of comic book translations... I don't get it. The people behind the new SyFy TV show, Krypton, didn't even attempt to make Krypton seem foreign... let alone alien. So what's the point? They could have saved a lot of money on the special effects and set this in Cleveland or somewhere in England since they say "mate" a lot, have English accents, and use phrases like "chip on your shoulder."

SyFy Channel Krypton Series

I dunno. Maybe it gets interesting after a few episodes. But it all seems pretty lame to me so far.

   
• Mission? Apparently a sign that says "NO SOLICITING. NO UNINVITED VISITORS. NO RELIGIOUS APPEALS. NO POLITICAL CAUSES. NO SALESPEOPLE. NO PETITIONS, NO CHARITY." means nothing to some people...

NO SOLICITING. NO UNINVITED VISITORS. NO RELIGIOUS APPEALS. NO POLITICAL CAUSES. NO SALESPEOPLE. NO PETITIONS, NO CHARITY.

When I asked the missionaries who showed up tonight AT 8:45PM what part of the giant red sign they didn't understand, they said they were curious about what's behind putting a sign up like that. Well, genius, it's not a big fucking mystery. The sign is up because I don't want to listen to your shit... and I really don't want you terrorizing my feral rescue cats by ringing my doorbell.

What kills me is that they have a laugh over ignoring the sign before they ring the bell. They also ignored they sign telling them that they were being recorded...

And apparently after you've violated somebody's posted request, then are specifically told to leave because the property-owner is not interested... the way to change their mind is to leave unwanted pamphlets on their door?

Unwanted Mormon Jesus Pamphlets

I have no problem with a person's beliefs, just so long as they don't infringe on mine. Like showing up at my home uninvited and not respecting my request for privacy. You can believe that Joseph Smith dug up some magical plates with Bible 2.0 on them if you want (something which, if you have studied The Bible even a little bit, is a hysterical concept)... but when somebody tells you to please leave them alone, your believing that you have a right to disrespect that request makes you a fucking asshole... I don't care who you are.

   
Happy trails to you, until next Sunday...

   

Bullet Sunday 458

Posted on Sunday, April 8th, 2018

Dave!Time for you to do that voodoo that you do so well... because a brand new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• KATY?!?! I don't watch American Idol, but I happened upon a commercial where I saw that Katy Perry is a judge now, so I had to check it out. Her new look is amazing...

Katy Perry American Idol

Modern rock glam with a punk sensibility stirred into the mix? Yes please.

   
• Shiplap! Shiplap! Shiplap! And so the final Episode of Fixer Upper has come and gone. I didn't sob uncontrollably as expected. There are many home renovation shows I enjoy watching... but none of them... NOT ONE... can compare to the taste level of Joanna Gaines. In all these years, I can't think of a single thing on any of her projects where I've thought "Well that's horrible!" Sure there are some decisions she makes that aren't my favorite... but it's rare, and it's never so bad I would rip it out if it were in my home. Joanna's Behind the Design starts on the 11th, and there's 15 half-hour episodes to be had. After that? I guess it's game over...

HGTV Behind the Design

My favorite of all the design shows, Fixer Upper will be missed.

   
• Pro! APPLE IS CONSULTING WITH THE PEOPLE WHO WILL BE USING THEIR SHIT? WELL THAT'S A WELCOME AND PLEASANT FUCKING SURPRISE! I've been absolutely furious that self-proclaimed "pro" Macs are anything but "professional." They're designed to be pretty rather than functional, and Apple keeps ripping out features that pros actually need. Though something tells me this is a case of "too little too late," as many professionals I know have moved to Windows. My mind reels over how Apple has abandoned a market they used to own. Makes me wonder how much longer they plan to make Macs at all.

   
• Solo! A new trailer was released for the Han Solo Star Wars prequel. It looks pretty great... but the plague of problems that have descended on the film has me wondering if this is just showing some of the best bits and the rest of the movie if going to be crap...

I guess we shall see. I am really hoping that the movie is great compared to the mixed bag we got last time. Though the special effects, settings, and battles were amazing, I wasn't really happy with the story for The Last Jedi, which had some of the stupidest bits since the prequels...

Leia in SPAAAAAACE!

I mean... Space Leia? What in the hell were they thinking?

   
• Incredible! As a huge, huge, mega-huge fan of the first Incredibles movie, I am anxiously awaiting the sequel. Seeing awesome marketing materials like this doesn't make me any more patient...

XXX

Hopefully they kept the design sensibility that made the first movie so stylishly iconic.

   
Later, gators!

   

Star Trekking

Posted on Monday, April 9th, 2018

Dave!Today is a busy day because I am off for vacation starting tomorrow. In an effort to save time so I can pack and clean house before tearing out of here, I thought I would cut-and-paste a ranking of my top-five episodes from each Star Trek series that I had made last week. A fellow fan and I were discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of all things Trek, and this is how we let each other know exactly What Kind of Star Trek Fan We Are. Because, let's face it, wars have been started over this kind of thing.

But then I decided to rank the series themselves.

Then I decided to write my thoughts on each series.

Then I had to go back through my lists and question some of my choices.

Next thing I know, a half hour has passed, and my entire reason for this entry have all come crashing down. I spent more time making a blog post out of something that I would have been much better off starting from nothing. Cat photos take hardly any time at all.

Star Trekking

But anyway... here we go, starting with my ranking of all the series best-to-worst...

  1. Star Trek: The Original Series
  2. Star Trek: Discovery
  3. Star Trek: The Next Generation
  4. Star Trek: Enterprise
  5. Star Trek: Deep Space 9
  6. Star Trek: Voyager

   
And here are my top-five episodes within each, in series order...

   
Star Trek
The first Trek is undeniably the best Trek with strong stories that hold up even to this day. That they managed to make it look so good given the effects technology at the time is just icing on the cake. Yes, the acting was less than subtle, but there's no denying that the cast was a magical combination that sustained the franchise well past cancelation. If there's a grievous fault in the series, it would be almost the entirety of the third and final season, which saw budgets slashed and shitty stories like And the Children Shall Lead taking a steaming dump on the sublime excellence of the first two seasons. No spin-off even comes close to how imaginative and revolutionary a show Star Trek was, is, and will always be.

  1. Mirror, Mirror
  2. The City on the Edge of Forever
  3. Space Seed
  4. Balance of Terror
  5. Assignment Earth

   
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Gene Roddenberry's bizarre edict that the future was perfect, everybody on The Enterprise was buddy-buddy, and all internal conflict on the ship was to be purged, made for a bland return to a once-great show. I was on vacation in Maui when the premiere debuted. But I was such a Trek fan that I gave up precious time in paradise to watch the first episode. It was so heinously boring and shitty... from the story to the sets to the effects to the costumes to (some) of the acting... that I was mired in shock and disbelief. How in the hell did anybody making the show thing this was Star Trek? Not to say it was all crap. Things improved after the first season and some true gems were to be found amongst the ruins... but, yeah, it was mostly crap. Though it wasn't the crappiest thing to come out of Star Trek. Not by a long shot.

  1. The Inner Light
  2. Darmok
  3. Yesterday’s Enterprise
  4. The Best of Both Worlds
  5. Remember Me -tie- The Ensigns of Command

   
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Despite having the series elevated by the amazing talents of Avery Brooks in the lead (ZOMG! It's Hawk!), this low-rent Trek knock-off was absurd to new extremes. Made infamous for Odo being the shape-changing alien that never changed shape, everything seemed to be done on the cheap. They blew their budgetary wad on the Deep Space Nine space station set, then had no money to go anywhere interesting, do anything interesting, or see anything interesting. They tried to compensate with the whole Bajoran/Cardassian conflict, but it was poorly handled and came across as false drama. The religious angle with the "Prophets" was boring in ways Next Generation could only dream about, and things were off to a bad start from the beginning because of it. Eventually even the people running the show realized what a turd they had crapped out, and added a ship (The USS Defiant) so they could go places... and fan-favorite character Worf... but it was too late. All that had come before had mired the show in mediocrity, and precious few episodes managed to escape it. But when they did manage to escape it, the series showed such amazing promise. A glimpse at what could have been. Unfortunately it was too rare an event to make me care about the show, because they always went crawling back to what made it suck.

  1. The Visitor
  2. Trials and Tribble-ations
  3. Far Beyond the Stars
  4. Little Green Men
  5. Second Skin

   
Star Trek: Voyager
Holy shit where do I even start? Because I am having a tough time finding the words to express just how much I hated this show. Hated it. There were elements I liked... in particular Robert Picardo as The Doctor and Tim Russ as Tuvok. And eventually we got Jeri Ryan as the Borg's "Seven of Nine" which was another coup. But that wasn't even remotely enough to salvage what a mess things were. First of all... the entire concept of the show was to remove "Star Trek" from everything "Star Trek" so writers could throw out the rules and let their imaginations run wild. A crew formed from conflict! No support system! Limited resources! Life on Voyager was to be a brutal struggle for survival in a strange and hostile universe far, far from home. But we never got that! Well, we rarely got that. What we got was yet another Next Generation retread that didn't even come close to the standards set by Next Generation (such as they were). As if that weren't shitty enough, "button-pushing action" was elevated to new heights. A conflict arises. Buttons are pushed to solve it. All while the "EPS conduits" are failing and the plasma is rerouted. Over and over and over and over again. I barely watched the show, but ended up binging on DVD rentals after everything ended so I could fast-forward through the boring crap. Which is to say I was fast-forwarding most of the time. The fact that I couldn't even manage to think of five episodes I liked well enough to list speaks volumes. It was all Oh... I remember that one with Sarah Silverman! and Oh... that episode with the rapid-evolving civilization was good enough that "The Orville" ripped it off!" Give me a break.

  1. Blink of an Eye
  2. Year of Hell
  3. Future's End

   
Star Trek: Enterprise
It was a good concept. Go back to all the newness and exploration of the unknown that made Star Trek so amazing by setting a show before Star Trek existed. Then get a big name like Scott Bakula to star in it. Then spend the money needed to make the show actually look great. It would be different. It would build pre-continuity continuity for the original series. It would focus on all the things Star Trek fans love and jettison those things they didn't. It would be a love letter to everything Star Trek! That would be great, right? Well, it sure could have been. Except some genius decided to mire the whole thing in the so-called "Temporal Cold War" which had death-grip on the show for three whole seasons. Sure, they were creative enough to escape it from time to time, but it pretty much killed what should have been an enjoyable outing. The fact that it never really paid off just added insult to injury. No surprise that my favorite episodes are ones that tried to side-step the restrictions that plagued the series.

  1. Carbon Creek
  2. In a Mirror, Darkly
  3. Similitude
  4. Twilight
  5. Dear Doctor

   
Star Trek: Discovery
And here we are. The latest Star Trek spin-off that has divided fans and set the internet on fire. It seems most people either love it or hate it, though the reason they love it or hate it differ completely. I absolutely loved it. And the reason I loved it is because I felt it finally... finally... recaptured what I loved about the original series. At long last, we had actual Star Trek happening again! And yet there are people who hated it because they didn't feel it was Star Trek at all. And I get it. Honestly I do. It has many problems continuity-wise. It completely and utterly rejects Roddenberry's silly "no internal conflict" edict. There were inexplicably stupid changes made (WTF with the Klingons?). And some of the tech is just plain silly (spore drive?!?). But, as a die-hard fan of the original, I just didn't care about any of that because the "flavor" or what captured my imagination from the start was there. It also had some brilliant re-workings of some of Trek's best ideas. As if all that wasn't enough, the special effects and casting were choice. Sure the last two episodes fizzled, but the slow burn and massive payoff for everything before that was all I could want in a Star Trek show. I cannot wait to see what they come up with for their second season.

  1. The Wolf Inside
  2. Despite Yourself
  3. Into the Forest I Go
  4. Vaulting Ambition
  5. Context is for Kings

   
Just for duck soup (and a need for completeness), here is my ranking of the Star Trek movies which I took from my blog post here (with details, if you need them!)...

  1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  3. Star Trek
  4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  5. Star Trek Beyond
  6. Star Trek: First Contact
  7. Star Trek Into Darkness
  8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  9. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  10. Star Trek: Generations
  11. Star Trek: The Final Frontier
  12. Star Trek: Nemesis
  13. Star Trek: Insurrection

   
And I guess that's a wrap on Star Trek. If all goes as planned, tomorrow's entry will be written from the airport.

   

Day One: AMS -> SEA

Posted on Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

Dave!Time to Amsterdam is just under ten hours, which means I can burn through five movies to pass the time.

Fortunately, there were plenty of films available on my flight that I was interested in seeing, so I didn't have to resort to binge-watching West Wing episodes on my iPhone...

  • Disaster Artist I was really looking forward to seeing a film documenting the making of one of the world's worst movies... The Room. It was everything I could have hoped for.
  • Shape of Water A beautiful film with fantastic effects, sets, and acting which was somewhat hampered by being entirely predictable right up until the last frame. Still, very glad I saw it, though I wish I had managed to see it in a theater.
  • Darkest Hour Easily Gary Oldman's best performance, it was everything you'd expect from such a heavily lauded and award-nominated film.
  • Downsizing Not at all what I expected. The ads implied it was a comedy, but completely left out the darker nature of the movie. Enjoyed it quite a bit once I got into it.
  • Dealt A documentary about one of the foremost card magicians in the world... who happens to be blind. The film runs in two tracks, one devoted to Richard Turner's magical talents, the other to his blindness, and both are fascinating. Highly recommended.

And... next stop, Schiphol...

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Not Actual Size

Posted on Monday, April 30th, 2018

Dave!It's tough to fault Marvel Studios for their slate of movies. I love all of them. Some more than others, of course, but each one has a certain something that makes it a comic book geek's dream come true.

One film that always seems to get lost in the shuffle is Ant Man, which is a real shame because it's such a good movie. It's an awesome caper flick that just happens to have a super-hero in it.

And it's really funny.

And now the trailer for the sequel, Ant Man and The Wasp, has dropped. No surprise, it looks like a total home run...

What shocks me about the trailer is just how seamless the special effects are. Every unreal moment is handled so flawlessly as to accentuate the unique nature of the story... not distract from it... and that's not nothin'.

Interesting to note that Marvel is finally addressing one of the biggest flaws of their films. The villain is usually just a duplicate of the hero with the same powers and abilities. This time? Ghost has an entirely different power set, which is great...

Ant-Man and The Wasp Movie Poster

This movie pre-dates Avengers: Infinity War for obvious reasons... it's a two-parter that won't complete until next year. Typical to Ant-Man, this is explained in the best way possible...

I can't wait to see this movie.

And I haven't even seen Infinity War yet!

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The Avengers: Infinity War

Posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Dave!And lo, Marvel Studios absolutely wasn't kidding when they taunted that Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of the past ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is not idle hype. Though Comic Book Reality being what it is, you have to wonder just how much of what happens in this truly epic film will have lasting effects on where we are going forward.

Something tells me not all of it is going to all be washed away. What ends up sticking is anybody's guess.

Except not really...

Avengers: Infinity War Movie Poster

If you've ever read comics before... if you've ever been left hanging in the middle of a two-part comic book story before... then there's nothing much in Infinity War that could be all that shocking to you. Likewise, anticipating the thrust of the story in next year's still-untitled-conclusion-movie also doesn't take much effort.

And yet...

Infinity War actually did redefine the word "epic" when it comes to super-hero movies... or movies in general, really.

Obviously, my thoughts on the film are going into a spoiler-laden extended entry, which you absolutely do not want to read if you haven't seen Avengers: Infinity War yet.

You've been warned.

And also... another warning? Skip any trailers you haven't watched yet. One pretty major spoiler was dropped in one of the trailers I saw, and I'm still pretty raw about it.

And now? This is your last chance. Do not proceed unless having a movie ruined is something you enjoy.

Spoilers await in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Marvel Colorform Crapfest

Posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2018

Dave!You would think that when you pay for a movie in iTunes that the poster art would remain the same as when you bought it. But that's not the case. A while back Marvel started changing all the artwork in their store, which ended up changing the artwork on all the movies I bought.

And it all sucks.

Not that I'd be thrilled if it were better than the originals... I want the art that I recognize so I can recognize the movies I own. I want what I originally purchased.

Take for example the poster for Guardians of the Galaxy...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

They hacked up pieces of the original poster, rearranged them, then slapped them on a boring-ass background. It looks worse than shitty, because there's no composition or context. Can you tell what in the hell Star-Lord is doing? Holding on to a handle? Who the hell knows?

The sequel poster is even worse. The cool and colorful art with all kinds of cool movie imagery in the background. It's been replaced with something so boring as to be sedate by comparison...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

Thor: The Dark World is especially horrific in that he no longer looks like the god of thunder, but somebody in a red cape and bad hair...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

Since most Marvel movies take place in New York City, Ant-Man was a breath of fresh air since it switched it up to the West Coast and San Francisco. To be sure there was no mistaking this, they put it right there on the poster...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

When they remade it, they simply stripped away all the cool supporting elements and slapped some ugly-ass faux-metallic effect. Lame.

Group films like Avengers have posters that are carefully crafted to show the dynamic of the team. But now all we get is a grotesque cut-and-paste hack-job that has no interplay between characters and no dynamic. Somebody with a box of Colorforms could do the same damn thing... and probably better, since people wouldn't have their legs cut off and be suspended in air...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

Another great example of this... Captain America: Civil War. What was the most incredible part of the film? The fact that there was a massive battle which pits hero against hero. But the new poster rips this away, completely confusing the story. For all we know from looking at the shitty art, this is a Captain America and Iron Man buddy picture. Or an Iron Man movie with a guest-spot by Cap, since the figures have been reversed and Stark is in the #1 spot...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

Doctor Strange is a mind-bending film which introduces magic and other dimensional planes to the Marvel Universe. But now? Some guy in a red cape with a tall collar? Shitty. Utterly shitty...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

I think my most hated poster remake is for Iron Man 3...

Shitty Marvel Movie Poster Remakes

The original poster was SO cool. Foreboding atmosphere, Tony's house exploding, and The Iron Legion are all there... along with a ravaged but determined Iron Man. But the remake? You can barely even tell that's Iron Man. Looks like the cover to some kind of Harlequin Romance or a shitty, low-budget crapfest. And can somebody please explain why the characters are fading into a star-field?

I understand the thinking in redoing the posters. They are trying to create something that will be easily understood at the smaller thumbnail sizes that you'll find in iTunes or other movie streaming services. But when they come up with something this shitty, does it really matter if you more easily understand them? If anything, I'd argue that the original posters are more distinct and interesting... even if you can't fully tell what's going on when reduced to tiny sizes.

At the very least, they could leave it up to the buyer which poster to display in their iTunes library.

Because the new crop is more than just ugly and boring... they're offensively bad design.

   

Bullet Sunday 463

Posted on Sunday, May 27th, 2018

Dave!It may be the last day of the week, but this holiday weekend keeps on rolling... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Pooh! Of all the movies coming up, I have to admit that Christopher Robin is the one I'm most looking forward to at the moment...

With all the advancements in special effects, it's the ability to make films like this which impress me most.

   
• Whoa! Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder? Sign me up!

I'm not a romantic-comedy "romcom" kinda guy, but this movie will be worth seeing for the casting alone. Not in theaters, of course, but when it hits HBO or Netflix, I'm on it.

   
• Hotness! I've been running across a lot of treasures from my past as I work my way through my garage. As an example... look how brutally hot I was on my learner permit!

Dave's Hot Learner's Permit

Yep... if I were legal in that photo, I'd do me!

   
• Togs! The closer they get to making Mon-El have his iconic comic book costume, the closer my inner fanboy gets to peeing my pants...

Dave's Hot Learner's Permit

Almost there. Just need that waistcoat... then call it good!

   
• Thanks, Obama! Yes, I had problems with some of President Obama's policies... but I never stopped admiring him as a person. That goes double Michelle Obama, who was such an exemplary First Lady. So to say that I'm anxious to get my hands on her forthcoming book is an epic understatement...

Becoming by Michelle Obama

The unabridged audiobook is available for pre-order at Audible. Since Michelle Obama is narrating all 14 hours of it, I couldn't press the purchase button fast enough.

   
• Quilt! Hey OG bloggers! Somebody made this incredible quilt for me back in the day, but I can't remember who it was? Does anybody know?

XXX

I'm hanging it up to display in my room, and I'd like to attach a tag with the author.

   
What are you still doing here? The bullets are over. They're over! Go home. There's nothing more for you here.

   

Bullet Sunday 465

Posted on Sunday, June 10th, 2018

Dave!It's been yet another week full of hypocrisy and evil, but it's all good, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Two! I loved everything about the first LEGO Movie... except the ending. When they dropped into "The Real World," everything fell apart for me. With this in mind, I have mixed feelings about the sequel...

Yes, I'm excited to see it. But can we please just stick in the world of LEGO and let Chris Pratt be hilarious? That would be great, thanks.

   
• No Reservations. There wasn't much I didn't like about Anthony Bourdain. He was responsible for some highly entertaining television. He was a world traveler and advocate for better understanding and acceptance between cultures. He used his celebrity to advocate for worthwhile causes and draw attention to injustices. He was an incredible guest on any talk show he dropped by. He was somebody I liked and admired, which is why his death has hit me so hard. You will be missed, sir.

   
• Darkness and Light! I was never a fan of the Cloak & Dagger comic books. They all had the same story. Cloak & Dagger hunt down drug dealers. Cloak goes a little crazy because he's hungry. Dagger feeds him a light sandwich. Lather, rinse, repeat. On occasion they team up with other heroes, but their baggage is always the same. And now Freeform TV has created a Cloak & Dagger television show...

Marvel's Cloak and Dagger on Freeform

Now, I'm not saying that every super-hero show has to be packed with super-power fights... but there has to be something to make it interesting... otherwise it's just another boring TV drama I don't care about. And if the first two episodes of Cloak & Dagger are any indication, here's yet another boring TV drama I don't care about. Which is a shame, because the actors are very good.

   
• You! Other than an occasional song here and there, I haven't given much thought to Maroon 5 in years. But now they've dropped a new video for their song Girls Like You that's packed with more guest-stars than you can shake a stick at.

Not a bad song at all. And if you're having trouble putting a name to all the faces, here's a link for you. And, as much as I like it, this is not going to displace my favorite Maroon 5 video...

And if that's not enough Maroon 5 for you... here they are covering Bob Marley's Three Little Birds...

'Cause every little thing gonna be alright.

   
• NEWS: With deal to close this week, Bayer to retire Monsanto name
Well of course they are retiring the Monsanto name! Monsanto is fucking evil incarnate, and people were finally waking up to it. But now? Bayer is just the aspirin people! Evil + Evil = Bigger Evil.

   
• A Red Letter Day! As my final bullet of the day, I leave you with one of my favorite Pet Shop Boys songs that's woefully under-appreciated... and highly relevant to my life as of late...

Doesn't get much more Pet Shop Boys than that.

   
So long until next Bullet Sunday!

   

Bullet Sunday 466

Posted on Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Dave!Time to celebrate all the good that's left in the world, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• The Carters! As if there could be any news bigger than Beyoncé and Jay Z dropping a duet album out of nowhere called Everything Is Love... there's the fact that they shot the first video for the single Apeshit in the frickin' Louvre. I mean, seriously! They rented out THE LOUVRE! Who does that? Who has the money to do that? Beyoncé and Jay Z, that's who...

Amazing stuff. Can't wait to get my hands on the finished album.

   
• Part Two! And so this popped up on the internet last week...

Avengers 4 Sneak Peek

I have some thoughts...

  • Captain Marvel! ZOMG! She looks amazing. Needless to say, I cannot wait for her movie to drop. It will be very interesting to see how she factors into the Marvel Cinematic Universe given her raw power that dwarfs everybody else. One thing is for certain, she's going to be one of the most dynamic visual treats to come along in super-hero movies.
  • The arc they've given Bruce Banner has been an interesting one. At first he could barely control The Hulk and hated the life he lost because of it... then he was near-despair over the destruction caused in South Africa... then he was kind of taken over by The Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok... then he lost The Hulk in Infinity War... and now it looks like he's reached some kind of compromise between himself and The Hulk. It's been a great ride, and I'm worried it might end.
  • How sad is it that Rocket Raccoon is the only Guardian left?
  • Disappointed that there's n representation from Black Panther here. T'Challa may be gone... but Shuri? Okoye?
  • So many questions about Thor and Asgard. Apparently some of them survived. But where does the Thor franchise go from here? Where's Valkyrie?
  • Ant-Man is there. Where's The Wasp? I'm guessing that she is part of the one-half gone, which is a shame. I thought I heard somewhere that she was in this.
  • Hawkeye is here. Odds are very good that some of his family is part of the one-half gone, so he's got serious stakes in this.
  • Odds are incredibly high that this is going to be the final appearance of Steve Rogers as Captain America. To have him go out on a high note, it's almost a given that he's going to sacrifice himself to save the universe. And that's okay... but... is it wrong that I want Nebula to be the one who defeats Thanos? Out of everybody, she deserves it most.
  • Iron Man's armor has evolved to kind of a weird place. The whole "legs merge to jet" thing in Infinity War was a breaking point for me.
  • War Machine, on the other hand, has a more logical progression to his look.
  • Black Widow had better get her own damn movie after all this. Seriously. What character has given more to other characters' films with nothing for themselves? She's woefully underutilized, and a solo movie will help fix that... and hopefully other characters she's supported over the years will support her.

Next up? Ant Man and The Wasp, which looks fantastic.

   
• Super! Here's the thing. With the exception of Wonder Woman, the DC Cinematic Universe has devolved into a heap of shit. Man of Steel... Batman vs. Superman... Suicide Squad... Justice League... they were all heinous crap that ignored huge portions of what makes DC characters so timeless and special. At the other end of the spectrum is the DC Television Universe (or Arrowverse, if you will) which has been killing it. Yes, Legends of Tomorrow has never quite worked... and Arrow has gotten stale... and the overall story arc for The Flash this past season went way too long and was ultimately pretty lame... but then there's Supergirl. It's been so good. And the season finale was no exception...

Supergirl Season Finale

Is it too much to ask that the people in charge of Supergirl give us a Superman show? Preferably a show where the central character STANDS ON THEIR OWN instead of yet another team show? The movie Superman is going nowhere, while Tyler Hoechlin has proven he's the best on-screen Superman since Christopher Reeve....

Supergirl Season Finale

DC should really just expand the Arrowverse into movies that don't suck. Because haven't we suffered enough? All I can hope is that we get another excellent season of SuperGirl. And a first season of Superman. Oh... and I would totally watch a Legion of Super-Heroes show too.

   
• 4K! I fell into a YouTube 4K HDR rabbit hole when I found out that my television can display them. Amazing stuff... even if you can't view 4K HDR. Here are some of my favorites...




But if you can watch 4K HDR on your TV...

   
• Beam! Don't get me wrong, I love my Sonos smart speaker setup, but there are some serious shortfalls that plague the system. Namely... it's stuck in the past. They've been clinging to optical cables for their PlayBar and PlayBase like a dead lemming, despite the fact that everybody else abandoned it a decade ago. And then this past week Sonos released a new product: Beam. Which is essentially a mini PlayBar that costs $399. But the biggest news? It's not using optical cable... it's HDMI ARC. Welcome to the future, Sonos...

Supergirl Season Finale

It's a step in the right direction, but not a very big one. Still no Dolby Atmos or other modern sound technologies have been announced. On the contrary, they say they have no plans for Atmos at all. Instead we're getting IKEA furniture with Sonos built-in. Wheee.

   
Good luck getting Apeshit out of your head this week...

   

Bullet Sunday 467

Posted on Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Dave!Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Go West! And so tonight was the second season finale of HBO's Westworld. After being shocked to my core my the brilliance of the first season, I was really looking forward to what happens next. Unfortunately what happens next has largely been a confusing mess and a disappointment. All sympathy built up for the hosts trying to break free of their endless torture evaporated as psycho-Dolores lowered herself to the level of a human and wholesale slaughtered people by the hundreds...

Psycho Dolores Westworld

But there were bright spots of course. The diversion into Shogunworld was a bit boring, but at least it was different. The return of "Ford" was a welcome treat. And then came episode 8, Kiksuya, which was a totally random departure, but absolutely beautiful to behold...

Akecheta in the Kiksya Episode Westworld

And then there was the finale.

I won't delve too deep into spoilers here for those who haven't seen it. But I will say that this season was a frustrating jumble of timeline jumps that were needlessly complex... and clumsy in execution compared to the first season. The finale didn't do much to make the more esoteric story beats any easier to comprehend, but it did wrap up some critical storylines and toss in enough twists to make me glad I invested my time in watching it. Here's hoping that the third season will try not to go so absurdly meta-philosophical and be more clever than obtuse.

   
• Paul! If you're even a casual fan of The Beatles, this is for you...

If you're a massive fan like me, it's really for you though.

   
• Batfleck! This article about DC's horrible handling of the Affleck Batman era nails it. How can you have a Batman at the end of his career be a part of a larger, continuing story? The Batman that Zack Snyder created makes absolutely no sense for The beginning of a franchise... Affleck or no Affleck... and it drives me crazy that Snyder was so sublimely oblivious to this fact. What? Batman is just going to be this old, broken, sad character on his last legs in every movie from here on out? So stupid. I've waited most of my life for DC characters to come together on the big screen... I've been dreaming about it since the Christopher Reeves' Superman movies... and I'll never forgive Zack Snyder for his heinously bad vision that ruined everything. All he had to do was look at the Bruce Timm animated shows (or decades of actual DC comic books) to see how Batman could work... both alone and in a larger narrative... but he decided to make something totally lame, incoherent, and just plain awful instead. He was the wrong choice for these films from the very start because he had no interest in portraying the characters as they are, but instead wanted to"put his own stamp"on them. And sadly, that's exactly what we got.

   
• Simba? This was made over a year ago. I am just now finding it. High-larious...

Genius!

   
• Fan! Jake was hanging around while I was working in bed. He wanted to be petted, so I obliged for a bit...

Cat Fan-Spreading

Then the temperature started rising so I turned on the ceiling fan...

Cat Fan-Spreading

Jake loves airing out his junk, that's for sure.

   
• Act! Posted for no particular reason...

It's textbook, really.

   
And, on that foreboding note... time to finish up Luke Cage on Netflix! If you're not watching this, it's worth your time. The show is a slow-burn with incredible acting by a cast to die for. If Alfre Woodard doesn't get a truck-full of awards for her amazing work on Luke Cage, there's something wrong.

   

EDDIE!

Posted on Friday, July 6th, 2018

Dave!As a movie-lover, it's tough to put my finger on my favorite films. Such a list would change from day to day depending on my mood or what I find entertaining at the moment. Sure, some movies will always be near the top (there's no way that Field of Dreams is ever going to drop off my favorites) but I don't think I would even attempt a definitive list for the ages.

That being said, there are many films that I love watching over and over that would not rank highly on such a list if I were to make one.

Like Eddie Murphy movies.

I simply cannot pass them up when I see them pop up on my television. And when I'm looking for a movie to run while I work, Eddie's films comes up far more often than others...

Eddie Murphy

Despite being enormously talented and having this uncanny ability to make mediocre movies into something fantastic, it's not like Eddie is perfect, however. I mean, films like Meet Dave, Pluto Nash, and Holy Man seem to suggest he's not exactly worried about missteps.

Anyway...

Last night Eddie Murphy movies came up in conversation and we were all trying to decide on our favorites. This is pretty much what I came up with...

  1. Beverly Hills Cop If there's one movie that defines the absolute core of what Eddie Murphy can accomplish on-screen, it's this. From a really good script to some hilarious improvisation, all that I love about Eddie Murphy is right here.
  2. Coming to America This movie so deftly drifted between hilarious moments and genuinely touching romance that I think it gave Hollywood pause as to what Eddie Murphy was capable of. I've seen this movie so many times that I can practically recite it from memory.
  3. Trading Places I debated putting this film in the top spot, because it was the first time I truly "got" how huge a movie star Eddie was going to be. All the performances were spot-on here (the casting was flawless), but this was Eddie's film from start to finish.
  4. Harlem Nights I don't understand the critical disdain for this film. I absolutely loved it. Some of the best funny moments in Eddie's career. And not only did it drop in some amazing A-list talent (Redd Foxx? Richard Pryor? Della Reese?), but it was absolutely beautiful to look at. The sets... the wardrobe... the styling... all so beautifully done. And Murphy directed it as well? Too much greatness for people to handle, I guess.
  5. Beverly Hills Cop II Did it match the first one? No. Did it completely live up to my expectations? Absolutely. The whole "Alphabet Killer" thing was a weak plot element (how could you be labeled the Alphabet Killer after one crime?), but it was otherwise a good story with some genuinely funny moments.
  6. The Distinguished Gentleman This movie is so overlooked and I don't understand why. In many ways I think it's a smarter film than others ranking higher on this list, and have always felt that the story was perfect for the day (and painfully relevant even now). The thing that keeps me watching it over and over is how beautifully all the pieces fit together. Everything is scripted to keep moving the story along as bit after bit clicks perfectly into place. No, the characters aren't fleshed out to any depth, but they don't have to be. Everybody is designed to contribute to making things funny and keep Eddie at the top of his game. And with this movie he definitely is.
  7. The Golden Child This was not a great film. And it felt as though Eddie was phoning it in the entire time. Some of his delivery was just plain awful, and so much less than he was capable of. It's like he insisted that he only have to perform one take per scene because nothing felt as polished as his other movies. And yet... even when he's phoning it in, Murphy is still funnier than most people on the planet combined, and the film worked on that basis alone. It was non-stop Eddie doing exactly what makes him so hilarious to watch.
  8. 48 Hours It's hard to ignore the film that started his big screen career, though I don't think it holds up as well as his other works. Still, this is a great film and a terrific debut.
  9. Boomerang Okay... I'm going to admit that Eartha Kitt, Grace Jones, and Halle Berry went a long, long ways towards me liking this film as much as I did, but they didn't overshadow Murphy's performance. He was just so on-the-money scene after scene as the story kept building to its inevitable conclusion.
  10. Bowfinger I couldn't decide between Bowfinger, Dr. Doolittle, and Life for my last film because I like them equally. But Bowfinger had these genuinely wacky moments that could have only come from Eddie Murphy. And it was great to see him matched with a talent like Steve Martin who could so easily hold his own on screen.

This list doesn't include his standup.

Oh man I hope he does at least one more standup movie before he retires.

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Bullet Sunday 469

Posted on Sunday, July 8th, 2018

Dave!Everything in the world seems to suck... but life goes on, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Science Fiction! One of my all-time favorite bands is the Thompson Twins. I maintain that Quick Step and Side Kick, Into the Gap, and Here's to Future Days is one of the best trifecta of albums released. Not bad for a band that considered themselves to be a joke. Eventually lead singer and writer for the Twins resurfaced for a series of 80's flashback tours. He ended up having so much fun that he decided to write new material... sticking to the slick hooks and 80's vibe that made his work so popular. And now there's an album coming from Tom Bailey called Science Fiction. If the single What Kind of World is any indication, I'm going to love it...

Only have to wait five more days...

   
• Coaster! That Kayla is a lucky girl...

Who needs Disneyland?

   
• Gaston! And speaking of Disneyland... whomever hired this cast member struck gold...

The rides are cool and all that, but it's the people at Disney that make it theme park magic.

   
• Coaster! And speaking of theme park magic, take a look at this amazing video...

The riders are lucky that the camera and selfie-stick didn't fly out of his hand and kill somebody... but... very cool.

   
• MALKOVICH! How did I miss that Spike Jonze and Jordan Peele accepted a fan theory about a link between Being John Malkovich and Get Out? Then Peele confirmed that he now considers it to be true?

Being John Malkovich

Bizarre! Which is what you'd expect when Being John Malkovich is involved.

   
• NOT MALKOVICH! Now, I hesitate to compare any film to Being John Malkovich, but this sure looks like a contender in the bizarre department...

So cool that there are people trying to do something different in movies... and that there are studios supporting them.

   
• Triple Header! I still have no idea how Luca Stricagnoli does what he does. You'd think that his brain would explode trying to do so many things at once...

Beautiful. Amazing how his interpretation just keeps getting better and more complex as time goes on.

   
And that's all she wrote for bullets this Sunday. See you again in a mere seven days.

   

Friday Not Friday This Time

Posted on Friday, July 13th, 2018

Dave!I just noticed something... odd.

Rachel McAdams sure ends up in a lot of movies with a time traveler.

   
Rachel McAdams and a time traveler in The Time Traveler's Wife, a silly concept for time travel that doesn't quite work as sci-fi or romance...

   
Rachel McAdams and a time traveler in Midnight in Paris, a Woody Allen film I refuse to watch because I loathe Woody Allen...

   
Rachel McAdams and a time traveler in About Time, one of the sweeter romance films I've seen with time travel used to good effect...

   
Rachel McAdams and a time traveler in Doctor Strange, one of the better super-hero movies I've seen...

   
Kind of surprising that she wasn't cast as Rita in Edge of Tomorrow.

Is it too much to hope that my favorite Dean Koontz book, Lightning, gets made into a film? Rachel McAdams would make a good Laura Shane.

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Bullet Sunday 472

Posted on Sunday, July 29th, 2018

Dave!Home again home again... and just in time too, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Mutants! The news of the week? Disney's offer to buy out 21st Century Fox's movie properties was approved by the shareholders on both sides. They still have to get regulatory approval, but it's expected there won't be any issues. And so? The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and Deadpool franchises will be headed to Marvel Studios. Which means we might finally get to see a good X-Men film... and we hopefully won't get more horrendously shitty Fantastic Four films. Deadpool was done right (twice!), but he lives outside of comic book reality, so he won't require a reboot. He'll just comment about his new universe and move on. In all honesty, I don't give too big a crap about the mutant teams showing up alongside The Avengers and so-on... but I am beyond excited to see The Fantastic Four popping up everywhere...

The Fantastic Four by Art Adams

There is so much potential there.

   
• Big Gunn! And speaking of Marvel Studios... they've cut loose Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn over offensive tweets he made almost a decade ago. I have mixed feelings over it all. On one hand he has repeatedly apologized for what he said, explained that it was a poor attempt at being provocative, he has moved on, and he tries hard to not be that person any more. On the other hand though... the jokes(?) were about things like pedophilia and rape and really don't qualify as "jokes" at all, assuming that was the intent. They certainly weren't funny. But... is that worth losing the third act of The Guardians of the Galaxy over? In the end I'd have to say "no." It would be a different matter entirely if he actually was a rapist and pedophile... but he's not. He was just entirely too stupid to understand he wasn't being provocative or funny... he was just being an asshole. And if we're going to start firing people in Hollywood for being stupid assholes, at least half of the industry would be gone.

   
• Printables! Downloadable guns? Well that sure took less time than I thought.

   
• Roasted! The Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis was on tonight. It was raunchy, horrible fun as always...

Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis

But every time one of these comes up, I cannot help but think back to one of the best roast lines ever said. Sandra Bernhard was preceding Jeffrey Ross at the roast of Jerry Stiller. Jeffrey stepped up and said "Yeesh, I wouldn't fuck you with Bea Arthur's dick!"... with Bea Arthur in attendance. I had always wondered if Bea Arthur ever reacted to it, so tonight I Googled it. Turns out Jeffrey Ross has a story about that.

   
• McWrong! Ever wonder what happens when McDonald's wraps your Egg & Cheese Biscuit Sandwich inside-out? Here you go...

Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis

I was too hungry to throw it all out, so I tore off as much of the color as I could. Hopefully it's non-toxic in case I didn't get it all.

   
• Kurzge-wha?! And here's my new favorite thing of the moment on the internet the Kurzgesagt Channel on YouTube...

If you've got time to waste, here's the place to go.

   
And that's the end of that. See you next Sunday.

   

Justice League: Revisited

Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Dave!Today Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War was released on digital home video. I thought before I sat down and wrote my thoughts on the movie, I'd take a run through Justice League from the Distinguished Competition and jot down some notes on it as well.

It's no secret that, with one exception, I loathe the DC Comics Cinematic Universe. Wonder Woman was pretty great. But Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League were all festering piles of crap that were not only bad movies... they were bad adaptations of the comic books they were taken from.

Justice League was so bad that I couldn't even get through it. I've only just watched various chunks when I've seen it on HBO. But, in the interest of fairness, I thought that I would sit through the whole thing last night to see if that changes my opinion.

Turns out that, no, it most definitely does not...

Justice League Poster

   
If anything, it sucks even harder in one viewing because it's such an epic slog to force your way through. All that did was make me end up resenting the film even more than I already did. My notes are something I'm posting for myself so I don't lose them, but feel free to read along if you want to.

And now? Do not proceed unless you've already seen the movie. LOL! JUST KIDDING! You do not want to see this movie, trust me.

Spoilers await in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Infinity War: Revisited

Posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

Dave!Of course I rushed to the theater when Avengers: Infinity War was released. I saw it twice, just because it was such a huge spectacle that I had a tough time absorbing it all. I liked it much better the second time around.Now that the film has been released on digital home video and I've had some distance between my last viewing... I like it even more.

Everything I said in my first review still holds true. But I wanted to revisit it now and figure out just why this film keeps growing on me...

Avengers: Infinity War Movie Poster

   
But, before we go there... an aside about those extras you get. They are pretty lame. At least what I'm finding in the "iTunes Extras" you get on the digital release...

1) The directors/writers commentary doesn't really add a huge amount of insight to the film. Not that it's bad... just that so much of what's discussed is obvious. This is fairly understandable though. If they went into much depth, they'd spoil the second part that's coming in the fourth Avengers film.

2) That being said... there is a "Director's Roundtable" with eight past Marvel Studios directors (Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, Peyton Reed, James Gunn, Ryan Coogler, The Russo Brothers, and Taika Waititi via FaceTime... sadly, no Kenneth Branagh, Shane Black, Alan Taylor,Scott Derrickson, Jon Watts, or Joe Johnston) which is fantastic. Listening to these people talk about their films made me want to go back and watch every last one of them all over again. If only it could have gone on longer.

3) The featurettes are okay but, again, don't add a heck of a lot to the film. Strange Alchemy touches on my favorite thing about the film, which would be the mixing up of the characters. The Mad Titan talks about Thanos from comics to film. Beyond the Battle: Titan and Beyond the Battle: Wakanda reveals the FX and stunts that went into the ultimate super-hero battles ever seen on film.

4) The deleted scenes are all worth watching. In the case of the extended scene between Thanos and Gamora... well worth watching.

5) LOLOLOL! As I was watching Infinity War tonight and Thanos starts speaking, Jenny immediately goes running for the television. And she was transfixed! "Jenny... are you in love with Thanos?!??" She turns and looks at me like "DUH!" — I think that Rick from Rick and Morty will be jealous. He's the only other character that Jenny reacts to this way...

Jenny Loves Thanos

Jenny Loves Thanos

Jenny Loves Thanos

   
And now? Do not proceed unless you've already seen the movie.

Spoilers await in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Cat Bites and Iron Man

Posted on Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

Dave!When it comes to cats, I truly lucked out. Jake and Jenny are wonderful animals and rarely give me any trouble. They don't chew on my stuff. They don't scratch anything they're not supposed to. They rarely puke. They leave me alone when I sleep. They're affectionate but not too clingy. They don't meow constantly. They're just the greatest most perfect cats.

99.9% of the time.

Every once in a while though...

I've been bitten three times.

When I first got my cats, they came with hospital collars from having been fixed. My cats were absolutely terrified of me, so I couldn't get close enough to cut them off...

Kittens!
Calm Before the Storm.

After a few days, Jake would be distracted enough while eating that I was easily able to cut his off. Jenny though? Not on your life. And it was scaring me. They spent a lot of time hiding under stuff, and I was worried the collar would get caught and she'd hurt herself. Finally I managed to grab her and cut it... except she was not having it. She clawed my arm so badly I still have marks. And she bit my nose repeatedly, resulting in blood gushing down my face. Not fun for me... and Jenny hid under the couch for two days.

The second time I got bit was when Jake escaped from the catio. Eventually he made his way back to the door, but he wouldn't come inside. So I grabbed him...

Jake Rescued from Outside!

Jake, who is usually a very mellow cat, went full-on psychotic. He was a Tasmanian devil of fury... biting my arm and clawing at my abdomen so deep that I thought my guts were going to spill out Hannibal Lecter style.

And the latest time I got bit? TODAY.

With the heat we've been having, my cats have been shedding their fur constantly. It's so bad that I've been brushing them with The Furminator every day. Jenny loves it. She rolls around while getting brushed and purrs like a diesel truck. Jake, however, merely tolerates it. Most times he doesn't mind so much, but there are other times you can tell he's annoyed. He'll "fake bite" me a couple times, but that's as far as it goes. Today was no different. He was irritated, he pretended to bite me a few times, I ignored him as I always do... and then he lashed out. With a real bite. It wasn't all that painful, but it was shocking.

And so...

Lesson learned. From now on when Jake acts perturbed while being brushed, I'll wait for one "fake bite" and then stop brushing.

Because I like having the greatest most perfect cats.


As I mentioned yesterday, watching the "Director's Roundtable" extra from the Avengers: Infinity War digital home video release made me want to watch all the Marvel Studios movies all over again. And so I am. Starting today...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 1: Iron Man
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
   
At the time it was released, it was impossible to comprehend just how revolutionary Iron Man would be, nor what it would lead to. In retrospect, it should not be as surprising as it is. All the elements were there. Robert Downey Jr. inhabiting Tony Stark in a way that was beyond flawless... painstaking faithfulness to the source material... exceedingly good special effects... a story that was highly entertaining, laced with humor, and had no wasted moments... and... did I mention Robert Downey Jr. being beyond flawless? As impressed as I was with this film back in 2008, I am doubly impressed today because it holds up so damn well. It was the perfect beginning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I love it as much now as I did then. Of particular note is the raw mechanical nature of the suit, which literally had to be bolted around Tony. This was incredibly cool to see and, though the process was streamlined with each new appearance, it always maintained its awesome brute-force physically mechanical nature. Until Infinity War where the suit was "nanite enabled" which completely ruins what makes Iron Man be Iron Man. Bummer.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: So many. But when Tony first dons the finished Iron Man armor and takes out all the bad guys in Afghanistan... it's movie magic. And when he returns home and Pepper catches him doing "not the worst things she's caught him doing?"... it's LOL funny too.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: While Jeff Bridges makes the perfect Obadiah Stane, I question why the villain always has to be a slightly more powerful duplicate of the hero in these films. Iron Man vs. Iron Monger? Sure. But it set a lame precident for too many Marvel Studios films which followed. So much so that they're only just now breaking free of of that trap.
   
SIDENOTE: Nick Fury showing up in the post-credits scene to discuss "The Avengers Initiative" is the icing on a very delicious cake. When I saw this movie in the theater, I was leaving during the credits when some guy started shouting to everybody "DON'T GO! THERE'S MORE AFTER THE CREDITS!" and so I stayed. I was already thrilled with the film. After that scene I was downright giddy leaving the theater.

   

Berries In Bed and The Incredible Hulk

Posted on Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Dave!I've never been a really big dessert person. My vice has always been chocolate pudding, but once I had to start limiting carbs and go sugar-free, it got scratched from my list (sugar-free chocolate pudding is heinous). I like an occasional chocolate cupcake, but those had to be dropped too. So now I have an occasional cookie and call it good.

Except...

I have a real tough time passing up on berries.

My favorite berries are Maine blueberries. There's really nothing like them. They are smaller than the blueberries I can get here and the flavor is unreal. I will gladly chow down on Maine blueberries on any occasion I can get them. But any berry will do, really. I love strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, Marionberries, boysenberries, blackberries, huckleberries... so many berries to eat.

But... berries have sugar... and so I try not to eat them too often. The fact that berries are so insanely expensive makes this easy. I bought a tiny container of fresh blueberries and raspberries for $8 to eat at breakfast with some poundcake. I managed to get three servings for my money...

Berries in Bed

And yet my $8 will buy me 8 shitty burritos at Taco Bell or 8 shitty hamburgers at McDonalds off their dollar menus. Fresh, healthy foods are out of reach for so many people, but crappy unhealthy food is abundant and cheap. Crazy.

But typical of what government lobbyists can achieve when they put their mind and money towards something.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 2: The Incredible Hulk
Original Grade: B • Today's Grade: B-
Coming out a mere month after the summer blockbuster that was Iron Man, the second movie in Marvel's lineup falls short when you you drop it in the mix. Still... this is not a bad movie, and if you judge it on its own merits instead of comparing it to the rest of the Marvel Universe of films, it fares far better. Unfortunately, I can't do that, so it just doesn't hold up for me. The special effects are good for the day. The story is good enough. The acting is better than good. But it doesn't feel like a Marvel Studios film and I mostly forget about it. Especially after all the amazing stuff that followed. With that considered, I have to drop it a point.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: Can I say the pre-credits scene where Tony Stark walks in the bar to talk to General Ross, thus starting the long trend of all the movies being stitched together? No? I can't? Okay. Well, The Hulk tearing apart anything and everything is worth watching... but I love the scene where General Ross is in the gunship chasing down The Abomination over rooftops at sunset and The Hulk grabs hold. The aerial battle and subsequent crash is a visual and audio treat.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: General "Thunderbolt" Ross's near maniacal obsession with tracking down The Hulk borders on ridiculous and William Hurt badly overplays it. Doesn't help that he's so damn stupid. Leave The Hulk alone and nobody gets hurt. Fuck with Banner and The Hulk destroys everything. So why not just let him be? And while I really like Edward Norton's body of work and appreciate what he brought to this film, it's tough to overlook just how much better suited Mark Ruffalo is for this particular role. He has an easy charm about him that Bruce Banner needs in order to play against the non-stop angst he lives day to day. Without it, things are just too serious and bleak.
   
SIDENOTE: Is Betty Ross ever mentioned again? Like ever? I know they eventually paired up Banner with Black Widow, but it still seems odd.

   

Caturday 71 and Iron Man 2

Posted on Saturday, August 4th, 2018

Dave!This morning I grabbed my phone and delayed Alexa's breakfast alarm because Jake was industriously cleaning his butt, and the last thing I wanted to do was interrupt that. Every once in a while he lets his butt-grooming go, so if he's paying that much attention to things I figure he must need it.

The Alexa alarms I have set for breakfast and dinner are always a great source of amusement. And a smart move on my part, because my cats have been trained to not bother me for food until they hear the alarm. When it gets close to 7:00am/6:00pm, Jake and Jenny will assemble and wait. Then they go nuts when the alarm goes off. I've recorded it these past couple mornings...

Butt first...

XXX

And now? My turn for breakfast.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 3: Iron Man 2
Original Grade: A- • Today's Grade: A-
I have never understood why this movie was so poorly received. Yeah, the story had some problems. Yeah, there were scenes that didn't hang together right. But it was still an enjoyable outing. The acting and visual effects were great. Sam Rockwell was perfect. And Mickey Rourke was not nearly the problem that critics made him to be. On top of all that? The debut of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow! I enjoyed the film then. I enjoyed watching it again now. And the credits scene with Thor's hammer in the dessert still gives me chills.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: The opening where Iron Man jumps out of a plane and lands on the Stark Expo stage only to be robotically disassembled to reveal Tony Stark... being Tony Stark, courtesy of Robert Downey Jr. firing on all cylinders. The Iron Man dancers are just a bonus. A close second? Black Widow mowing through a bunch of security guards at Hammer Tech. Amazing.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Whiplash is just another guy in a suit, following Iron Monger in the last movie... a different guy in a suit. It's a missed opportunity trap that so many Marvel Studios movies would fall into.
   
SIDENOTE: One of the most famous Iron Man comic book arcs was the Demon in a Bottle storyline where Iron Man became an alcoholic. That they did a quick nod to it in this film at Tony's party was an interesting choice. I think it was a mistake, but... better a quick nod than an entire movie dedicated to alcoholic Iron Man.

   

Smoke, Fire, and Captain America: The First Avenger

Posted on Monday, August 6th, 2018

Dave!I've been in two fires.

The first one was at a friend's house. He asked for help packing up he and his family's stuff because they were in the path of a wildfire that was out of control and advancing too quickly for them to evacuate on their own. I drove a rental truck up to their place, helped them pack it up, then drove it to his parent's house. By the time I had retrieved my car and headed back, they were told to leave and had evacuated. They ended up losing their garage and a chunk of their roof.

The second fire was at my home (well, the one before last) and it was terrifying. I spent eleven hours on the roof of my apartment building keeping the roof wet and putting out so many small fires that I lost count. Once I climbed down to go to the bathroom because I couldn't hold it any more. When I finally got back on the roof everything had caught fire. Fire on the bushes. Fire on the lawn. Fire on the shed. Fire on the roof. From then on I peed off the roof. Not that it mattered... everybody else had left. When the police came to force me to evacuate, both buildings to the side of me had caught fire. I had no idea if I would ever see my home again as I left.

Luckily, thanks to an amazing group of firefighters, my home was spared while everything around my apartment was burned to the ground or badly damaged. I was told that it was because I stayed behind when everybody else had left that the firefighters decided to hold the line at my building and save it. I was... and still am... incredibly grateful. Everything I owned was in there except the clothes on my back, my car, my hard drive, and the two photo albums I managed to grab as I evacuated.

The price being that I still wake up from time to time in a blind panic because I think I smell smoke.

And on days like today where there are wildfires burning and I smell actual smoke, I have a tough time of it. Apparently that's all it can take to send my head back to the roof of my old apartment when the whole world was burning around me.

The difference being that if I were caught in another fire, I wouldn't worry about losing everything I own as much as I used to. All my photos are stored in the cloud and backed up on a hard drive I keep at work. Everything else is just "stuff" and can (mostly) be replaced.

All I need out of life is underwear and my cats.

And the underwear are optional, as always.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 5: Captain America: The Last Avenger
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
Even as Marvel Studios was pulling all the pieces together to assemble The Avengers I had no idea how Captain America was going to fit into it. Developed in 1940 as a pro-America response to the rise of the Nazis, Cap was kept relevant in the comic books by constantly reinventing him in the face of modern times. But that's in comics. How would they translate a star-spangled antique to the movies and not have him look ridiculous? Well, this movie is how. An origin film through and through The First Avenger stripped away decades of jingoistic baggage to create an every-man hero who wanted to fight for the little guy by standing up to the bullies of the world. Taking place almost entirely during World War II, the story was everything you could hope for in a super-hero movie, and there were zero missteps in how it was laid out. Steve Rogers desperately wants to save people by joining the war effort but he's physically incapable of doing so, and branded 4F for service. But his heart and courage land him in the US Super Soldier Program where science turns him into the most celebrated hero of the war. Along the way he battles classic Cap villain The Red Skull, and absolutely everything about it was flawless.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: When Cap is leading back all the soldiers he rescued after his first outing, you get to see exactly who he is and how he will work in the MCU.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Seriously. Nothing. There's nothing that could have made this a more perfect introduction of Captain Rogers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
   
SIDENOTE: At the end of the movie Cap sacrifices himself to save New York and ends up frozen in the Arctic ice shelf. Fast forward to modern times and he's dug up from the ice to become a founding member of The Avengers and one of the most famous comic book super-heroes of all time. That tracks pretty closely to what we got in the comics, and the movie is painstakingly faithful to the source material. What's interesting is just how closely the events of this film lead into The Avengers. Black Widow came from Iron Man 2, Loki and Hawkeye came from Thor, and The Tesseract came from Captain America: The First Avenger. Everything up until now has been moving the football forward, all in preparation for the home run which was to come. The patience and planning it took to have such a plan in place is absolutely mind-boggling, and Marvel producer Kevin Feige was: The One in charge of keeping it all together. That he's still in charge just goes to show how successful he's been at his job.

   

Deadpool 2 and The Avengers

Posted on Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

Dave!After fucking up just about every single Marvel film they've ever made, 20th Century Fox finally got it right when they unleashed Deadpool on an undeserving world back in 2016. It was shockingly good and easily slid into my third favorite film slot of the year.

Needless to say, my expectations were rather high for the sequel. My fear was that they would just take Ryan Reynolds off the leash, substitute jokes for story, go full-on stupid, and destroy everything that made the first film work so well.

Instead they did the exact opposite of that and I think I might actually like it better than the original...

Deadpool 2 Poster

First of all, Deadpool is just as ruthlessly violent and hilariously funny as ever. This is the role Ryan Reynolds was born to play and he completely owns it in every possible way. But like the poster says, he doesn't come alone. Cable and Domino are with him, and Josh Brolin and Zazie Beetz are everything you could possibly hope for. Domino was particularly surprising, possessing a joy that lights up the screen. She comes dangerously close to stealing the entire show and an argument could be made that her scenes are the best in the film. Zazie could easily carry a solo film, and I hope somebody is seriously investigating it.

If there's a fault(?) in Deadpool 2 it's that the film is so dense with story and jokes that it demands repeat viewings to get it all. It was my intent to see it a second time in the theater but I didn't make it back to the multiplex in time. Now that it's been released on home video I can watch it as many times as I want.

And I will watch it a lot, I'm sure.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 5: The Avengers
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
And here is what we've been leading up to these past four movies. And it did not disappoint. The trick in team-up films like this is always going to be balancing screen time between multiple characters and balancing the power levels of everybody involved so heavy hitters like Thor don't obliterate weaker characters like Hawkeye. Joss Whedon did a superb job of that... and managed to make a witty, fun, and entertaining movie to boot. As if that wasn't achievement enough? The Battle of New York was eye-candy on a level yet unseen. But the best part? The groundwork has just been laid for the next 15 films.
   
MOMENT TO BEAT: Hulk smashing Loki.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: The first ten minutes of the film are spent not with The Avengers but with SHIELD. And while I understand the need to set things up with Loki and The Tesseract, it seems a lot of time (relatively) to invest. I would rather have had half of that cinematic indulgence used elsewhere because a lot of time was spent with SHIELD as it is. There's also the matter of timing, where Captain America and Black Widow can get from New York to Germany in minutes. Other than that, I really hate what they did with Cap's uniform. The helmet is goofy-looking and the nonsensical metallic shoulder cuffs look stupid. And speaking of questionable design, whose idea was it to put the Subway sandwich logo on Stark Tower's helipad? But the thing that bothers me most is how nuking the alien mother ship somehow causes every last Chitauri warrior, transport, and ship to suddenly keel over dead. Talk about lazy writing.
   
SIDENOTE: In the tradition of comic books since the dawn of time, super-heroes end up fighting when they first meet. And the battle between Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor is a good one.

   

International Cat Day and Iron Man 3

Posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Dave!Oh look... it's International Cat Day! As well it should be. I love my cats more than just about anything, so they should have their own day.

My cats decided to celebrate their holiday by eating and sleeping. Though they also decided to walk all over my kitchen counters, which means I have to scrub everything down now. Fun...

Jake and Jenny on the countertops

Oh... and they also put a nice big scratch in my coffee table. Fun...

Jake and Jenny Sleeping by a Big Scratch

The fact that I didn't strangle them today should perfectly illustrate why every day is International Cat Day around my house.

Well, not my house, really. I just pay for everything... I'm pretty sure it's their house.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 7: Iron Man 3
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A
Being the one to helm the film which followed The Avengers must have been a daunting task. In their infinite wisdom Marvel decided to hire Shane Black to write and direct. This was an interesting move but not an altogether bad fit. As writer of the Lethal Weapon movies and the genius that was The Long Kiss Goodnight, he knows how to create an action beat. Many of Black's decisions were questionable. Retooling Iron Man's long-time villain, The Mandarin, as a Ben-Kingsley-enabled decoy for Aldrich Killian from AIM was a bit weak. The modular armor was fun, but was handled poorly (if the parts were 832 miles from Miami, how did they arrive in 10 minutes?)... not to mention that the suit, which has always been powered by the ARC reactor in Tony's chest, suddenly needs to be recharged with electricity? The whole Extremis angle was lifted from a famous reboot arc from the comics, but used entirely differently... not necessarily in a bad way, though it was certainly a step down. And yet... this was a highly entertaining film with fantastic special effects and an awesome finale (Iron Legion!) that makes for good repeat viewing. I love the movie almost as much as the original, though it kind of falls short in the grand scheme of things these five years later so it gets dropped a half-grade.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: I usually hate whiny child actors ruining films that aren't about children, but Ty Simpkins (who plays Harley Keener) is fantastic. IMDB says he's making a Marvel Cinematic Universe return with The Avengers 4 which is kinda cool. Anyway, despite some great action sequences, all the scenes between Tony and Harley are my favorite. With the possible exception of when Tony chops Killian's arm off and says "Yeah, you take a minute." I LOL every time.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Other than the villain being able to magically take over television sets, a trope I absolutely loathe? And the Oracle product placement that's not at all subtle? There are times that seemed as though Tony's dialogue was too scattered and improvised. It didn't come off as natural, and it felt as if Shane Black wasn't sure how to handle it.
   
SIDENOTE: Probably the last Iron Man movie with Robert Downey Jr. which is a darn shame. Seeing hom pop up in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming (not to mention Avengers: Infinity War) is better than nothing, but boy would I like to see another solo Iron Man flick.

   

Berries and Thor: The Dark World

Posted on Thursday, August 9th, 2018

Dave!Ooh! Strawberries and blueberries were on sale!

I've been eating them morning noon and night in an effort to get through them all before they rot. Because the only thing worse than having berries be absurdly expensive is having affordable berries that you end up throwing away...

XXX

Now I'm on the hunt for marionberries, blackberries, or (if I've very lucky) boysenberries on sale.

Thought it's probably better if I don't find them, because those suckers would end up going in a pie, and I don't need that kind of carb load this late in my life!


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 8: Thor: The Dark World
Original Grade: B • Today's Grade: B+
Often seen as a weak link in the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon, I actually liked this film very much. Not necessarily for the story, which feels slapped together and disjointed... nor the villain, since Malekith looks more silly than threatening... but for all the parts that work so well. Hemsworth and Hiddleston are totally on their game as Thor and Loki. Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, and Kat Dennings are perfectly inhabiting the roles of Jane, Selvig, and Darcy that they created. But my favorite part is marveling over the sheer adventure of it all. The battle at Vanaheim... the Dark Elves attack... the escape from Asgard... every minute on Svartalfheim... Thor's hammer finally acting exactly like Thor's hammer should... so many cool comic book moments. Marry all that to lush visuals, stunning production design, and epic special effects, and it was a much better movie than some critics made it out to be. This is one of the Marvel Studios films I've only seen a couple times and I hadn't watched it in years. I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would so I'm bumping it up a half grade.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: Loki becoming Captain America. Bless Chris Evans for being such a good sport and making appearances like this!
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Malekith and the Dark Elves were just awful as antagonists. And it drives me bonkers how Jane and Selvig could "science" their way out of a situation they have practically zero knowledge to combat. The result being Jane's "science box" which inexplicably transports exactly the stuff needed for the story? And Selvig's "science poles" which save the day in the most deus ex machina way possible? Beyond lame.
   
SIDENOTE: "The Aether" MacGuffin actually being the Reality Stone in liquid form was just one more step to Avengers: Infinity War... and giving it to The Collector in the mid-credits scene beautifully set up Guardians of the Galaxy. Loki becoming Odin seemed like such a tired decision at the time, but was so wonderfully wrapped up in the third Thor movie, Ragnarok, that it turned out to be a great twist.

   

Art and Captain America: Winter Soldier

Posted on Friday, August 10th, 2018

Dave!This was one of those days.

I compensated by hiding in my bedroom and reading through all the of "Art of the Movie" books from the first eight Marvel Studios films. Except... it's actually nine books because I bought the art book for the Peggy Carter series that was on ABC, which I love (there's also books for the Agents of SHIELD series, but I don't love that show even a little bit). It made me want to watch Agent Carter all over again, but that will have to wait...

Art of Marvel Studios Books

The only book I'm missing is the one for Agent Carter: Season Two, which was an okay-not-great-series, but I'd still like to have it because the production design was fantastic for it. But... $48. Yeesh. That's a chunk of money considering I wasn't a big fan of the show.

And now It's time to re-watch one of the best movies ever so I can finish up this entry!


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 9: Captain America: Winter Soldier
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
There's a part of me that wants to call this my favorite Marvel Studios film. It gives us a flawless portrayal of Captain America, Black Widow, Winter Soldier, Nick Fury, Agent 13, and also? Robert Redford(!) as Alexander Pierce! But the real beauty of this movie is that it defines Captain America in a way that makes his 1940's mentality painfully relevant to the modern world, and positions him as the definitive conscience of the entire MCU. And speaking of relevant... how cool is it that a film set in 2014 managed to continue story elements of the first movie set in 1942 so amazingly well. Bucky, Zola, and Hydra were old ideas made fresh. And not in a way that rang hollow or was contrived. Even Cap's original uniform (which is far superior to what he got in The Avengers) was dusted off and came back. Genius.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: Pick one. There are no wasted moments in this entire film. The action sequences are all brilliant. But that scene where Steve goes to visit a dying Peggy Carter... yargh... a lump in my throat every time.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Not a damn thing. If a perfect comic book movie exists, this is a contender.
   
SIDENOTE: The way they updated Falcon is, as with everything else in this movie, perfect. By the way... that's Jenny Agutter as the lone woman on The World Security Council and the one that Black Widow impersonates to infiltrate SHIELD. Many Americans probably won't know who she is, but anybody familiar with British Television knows that this is just as cool casting as Robert Redford!

   

Caturday 72 and Guardians of the Galaxy

Posted on Saturday, August 11th, 2018

Dave!I fell asleep on the couch last night while watching the Marvel Studios movie for today. Not easy to do when it's Guardians of the Galaxy, which is one of my favorites of the bunch. Guess it just goes to show how exhausted I was.

I woke up again when I got an alert that the security camera in my driveway had gone down.

This is the email I got...

Your Security Camera is Down!

And... look closer...

XXX

I'm thinking that Fake Jake might be behind my camera going down? The rascal.

I have two more cameras out front, so I was in no hurry to fix whatever it was that was wrong. Instead I finished up my movie and went to bed.

As for Real Jake? Just helping me open my mail this morning...

Fake Jake Opens Mail

Fake Jake Opens Mail

Fake Jake Opens Mail

The rascal.

Jenny would rather lay on the floor for some reason...

Jenny on the Floor

When I went to Petco for kibble, I saw that the low-carb Tiki Cat dry food was on sale. This was cool... until I noticed that one of the flavors was marked as "clearance," which scares the hell out of me. I really, really hope that they aren't discontinuing this stuff. It's the most affordable food I've found that doesn't overload on carbs. In the meanwhile though, I snagged all eight bags and my cats are set for the rest of the year...

Jenny Investigates Tiki Cat

I can probably replace the dry with... something... I guess. But nobody makes the Tiki Cat Velvet Mousse that Jenny eats. And I seriously don't want to have to go back to blending my own. So gross.

Fingers crossed I won't have to.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 10: Guardians of the Galaxy
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
I re-watched this movie for the fifth?... sixth? time back in June, so I didn't really have to watch it again to jot down my thoughts. But I did it anyway. And I am hooked from the opening scene of Star-Lord dancing through a dead planet every time. If that doesn't sum up my feelings about Marvel's first "sci-fi" entry into the MCU, I don't know what will. The humor... the characters... the settings... the story... the music... all perfect. And perfectly executed, with amazing casting and brilliant special effects (which are so crucial to a film like this). I've admitted that I laughed when I first heard they were bringing this comic book to the big screen, because characters like Rocket and Groot were just an absurd thing to try and translate. But how wrong was I? And after watching Avengers: Infinity War, I'm even more impressed, because they were able to seamlessly mix Rocket and Groot with everybody else to amazing effect.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: Escape from the Kyln? Escape from Knowhere? The battle at Xandar maybe? I dunno. There are entirely too many good scenes to pick from. I can't even single it out to scenes with one character, because I love them all.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Ronan the Accuser is a powerful Kree warrior, but I don't get how he was able to wield the Power Stone. I understand that he only touched it for a few seconds, which is why he didn't die... but how was he able to command it after he smashed it into his Universal Weapon hammer? He's an important Kree but, in the end, he's just a Kree. Not a god or ancient being. Or, in Peter's case, the son of an ancient being. It's a puzzler. And I still think the whole "holding hands" at the end was kinda silly.
   
SIDENOTE: It's amazing how critical this film was to everything that came after it in the MCU. Thanos... Gamora... Nebula... The Collector... and, looking even further forward for next year's Captain Marvel, The Kree. This was also the first time we got a full explanation on The Infinity Stones as well. Doesn't seem possible that such important stuff was set up in what's essentially a comedy, but there's Marvel Studios being all brilliant again.

   

Bullet Sunday 474 and Avengers: Age of Ultron

Posted on Sunday, August 12th, 2018

Dave!Time to be cruel to be kind... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Birdfeeding! I used to feed birds only in the winter, but started feeding them in the Summertime as entertainment for my cats. Problem is, when I hang the feeder in front of their window, the birds stay away... unlike in winter where food is scarce and they don't care. Apparently having predators staring at you while dining is unappetizing if you have other options. So I moved the feeder to the corner of the house where there are no windows so I could get rid of the feed I had bought. Problem is... I felt bad when there was no more food, so I kept on buying it because they kept hanging around. The little scroungers run through loads of the stuff, and I'm refilling it three times a week now...

Insatiable

Probably wouldn't be so bad if they were content to eat the cheap seed... but their favorite is thistle seed, AKA nyjer seed. The stuff is crazy expensive. I've tried mixing it with the cheap seed, but they pick it out and drop it on the ground... along with loads of thistle seed shells. I can't seem to win when it comes to birds.

   
• Bears! So there I was... flipping through channels... when I ran across We Bare Bears, which is one of the best things I've ever seen...

It's in its fourth season. No idea how I've missed it for this long, but I'm kinda obsessed with it now.

   
• Bears Again! What makes me love We Bare Bears even more? A storyboard artist from the show created an animatic of Ice Bear punching a Neo Nazi...

Bear Punches Neo Nazi

The tiki torch is a nice touch. You can see it over at Cartoon Brew.

   
• Unsatiable! When internet controversy was unleashed against the new Netflix series Insatiable, calling for it to be canceled before it even aired, I was intrigued. Rather than jump on the bandwagon I decided to take a look. It was funny as hell and, though it was pretty crude, I didn't understand what the fuss was about...

Insatiable

UNTIL THINGS TURNED TO SHIT IN THE TENTH EPISODE. Holy crap. I have never seen a show completely turn a corner like this. It's as if they had no idea what to do for an ending and just slapped some stupid crap together. EXCEPT THERE WASN'T AN ENDING! Blargh. The only way I was offended by this show was that Netflix greenlit it when IT HAD NO ENDING!

   
• Potato! Netflix kinda redeemed themselves after the disaster of Insatiable by recommending The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I don't go much for period films... and especially not period romance films... but this one has really beautiful atmosphere to it...

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Taking place in the days after World War II, author Juliet Ashton receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a reading club. Curious to know more about the society, Juliet writes back... and a story unfolds. It's a nice escape, if you're looking for that wort of thing.

   
• Agatha! I've read most of the Agatha Christie novels. My mom loved them, and they made for good reading. My favorite has always been Death on the Nile, followed by Five Little Pigs and probably And Then There Were None. Amazon Prime is now showing an adaption of Ordeal by Innocence, which is one I remember...

Ordeal by Innocence

After having watched all three parts while I was working this morning, I was a bit taken aback that they had changed the story. Which is to say that they changed the murderer. I'm sure other details were altered as well, but I don't remember things well enough to list them. It seems strange to me that they would adapt a book and change it so significantly. If they didn't want to tell the story Agatha Christie had written, why wouldn't they have just written their own story? Setting all that aside, the series is pretty good and has a great cast lead by Bill Nighy. If you've got three hours to kill, there are worse things to watch. Like Insatiable, for example.

   
Time to regroup and reload. See you next Sunday.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 11: Avengers: Age of Ultron
Original Grade: A • Today's Grade: A-
I'm just going to get this out of the way... Ultron was not nearly as horrifying a villain as he should have been. The absurdity of it has me dropping Age of Ultron a half grade, just because it's even more jarring on repeat viewings. While casting James Spader as Ultron's voice was genius, he should have been an unstoppable, unhinged murder-bot instead of the philosophically-bent loon they made him into. That being said, it was great to see The Avengers back in action... even if this was a disjointed mess of a movie which wasted too much time on nonsensical diversions. Oh well. The fight scenes are amazing. The Vision has some serious design issues (WHY PUT DRIBBLE ON HIS CHIN?!?), but is as cool as you'd hope. Wanda's powers are all over the place, but it was great to get the Scarlet Witch onboard. Ultimately it's a heck of an entertaining film that still makes an A grade. It's just that this should have been an A+ movie and it wasn't.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: That opening attack on Baron von Strucker's fortress in Sokovia was pretty great. It was a fight that was very well balanced between our heroes so that nobody was left out. Oh... and I loved the scene when everybody was trying to lift Thor's hammer and Captain America nudged it a bit. The look on Thor's face? Priceless.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Ultron. Holy shit what a boring waste of what should have been a ruthlessly scary super-villain. And his design sucked too. Thor's sidequest was silly.
   
SIDENOTE: It's fairly obvious that Joss Whedon did not get to make exactly the movie he was wanting to make... and he has confirmed as much. If the studio knew that they were going to be dictating a bunch of crap to be worked into the movie, they should have known better than to force it on Joss Whedon who is at his best when he works alone and can fulfill his vision for the project. What's interesting is that Whedon said "never again" after the movie wrapped... but then ended up taking over for Zack Snyder on the abhorrent Justice League where he was even more at the mercy of the studio. I can only guess that Warner Bros. paid him a shit-ton of money.

   

Erasure and Captain America: Civil War

Posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Dave!Today I headed over to Seattle to see Erasure with my long-time internet friends Matt and Scott. It was my third time seeing the band, and Andy and Vince were amazing as ever.

If I had a complaint, it was The Moore Theater Seattle has no air conditioning. I was in the front row and had (relatively) few people next to me and I was dying. Poor Andy Bell was dancing and singing his guts out and I thought he was literally going to die. But he was a total trooper...

Erasure Seattle 2018

Erasure Seattle 2018

Erasure Seattle 2018

Erasure Seattle 2018

Erasure Seattle 2018

The set list was as follows...

  1. Oh L'Amour (One of two tracks from Wonderland, their first album)
  2. Ship of Fools (One of four tracks from The Innocents, their third and most popular album)
  3. Breathe (One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums, Nightbird... their eleventh)
  4. Just a Little Love (First of four tracks from their seventeenth and current album, World Be Gone)
  5. Chains of Love (Second of four tracks from The Innocents, their third and most popular album)
  6. Sweet Summer Loving (Second of four tracks from their seventeenth and current album, World Be Gone)
  7. Victim of Love (One of two tracks from The Circus, their second album)
  8. Phantom Bride (Third of four tracks from The Innocents, their third and most popular album)
  9. World Be Gone (Third of four tracks from their seventeenth and current album, World Be Gone)
  10. Who Needs Love Like That (Second of two tracks from Wonderland, their first album)
  11. Atomic (a Blondie cover)
  12. Love to Hate You (lone track from Chorus, their fifth album)
  13. Blue Savannah Song (first of two tracks from Wild!, their fourth album)
  14. Drama! (second of two tracks from Wild!, their fourth album)
  15. Love You to the Sky (Fourth of four tracks from their seventeenth and current album, World Be Gone)
  16. Sometimes (Second of two tracks from The Circus, their second album)
  17. Always (lone track from I Say, I Say, I say, their sixth album)
  18. Stop! (from the Crackers International EP... or album 3.5, I guess)
  19. A Little Respect (Fourth of four tracks from The Innocents, their third and most popular album)

They skipped tracks from Erasure (their seventh album), Cowboy (their eighth, and probably my favorite, album), Loveboat (their ninth album), Other People's Songs (their tenth album), Union Street (their twelfth album), Light at the End of the World (their thirteenth album), Tomorrow's World (their fourteenth album), Snow Globe (their fifteenth... a Christmas album), and The Violet Flame (their sixteenth album).

Songs I would have liked to have heard? Heavenly Action, Weight of the World, just about anything from Cowboy plus Don't Say You Love Me, and I Broke It All in Two.

Not that I can really complain though... nineteen awesome songs was above and beyond!

If you ever have a chance to see them live, Erasure is worth the ticket of admission.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 13: Captain America: Civil War Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+ Holy crap... what if Robert Downey Jr. had said no? What would this movie have been then? Chris Evans has made no secret of the fact that he never really wanted to sign on for Captain America because he had his fill of super-hero movies with the two awful Fantastic Four flicks. But he was talked into it, and signed a contract for a set number of appearances as Cap. And that was smart. Get the big money while he could, then move on to the directing career he wanted which would pay a lot less. He later extended his contract to include Avengers 4 when Avengers: Infinity War was split, but it's assumed that's the end of it. What's so cool is that Evans is such a stand-up guy that he agreed to cameo appearances in Thor: The Dark World and Spider-Man: Homecoming outside of his contract. Marvel Studios, in its infinite wisdom, decided to make the most of the original Captain America while they had him, and essentially created another Avengers movie instead of a Cap solo film. Taking the general idea from the comic book event of the same name, Civil War was a way to tear everything apart before bringing it back together again. And they pulled out all the stops doing it. In addition to getting the first appearances of Spider-Man and Black Panther, we also get Iron Man, Winter Soldier, Black Widow, The Falcon, Agent 13, Ant-Man, War Machine, Hawkeye, The Vision, and Scarlet Witch. When you consider that this could have easily been a movie with Cap as its only hero battling some random villain, that's beyond incredible. It was, of course, just a warm-up. I don't know that this was a better film than Winter Soldier, but it was a comic book fan's ultimate dream movie at the time. It was certainly mine. Kinda still is.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: Wow does Marvel Studios have the whole de-aging thing down! Seeing young Robert Downey Jr. at the front-end of the film was so cool. And it wasn't just for kicks... it actually had real relevance to the story being told. But, of course, the scene to beat would have to be the airport battle. Finally. Finally! After spending most my life waiting for a live-action super-hero battle that wasn't a pile of shit (I'm looking at you, X-Men 3) we got it. It didn't hurt that Spider-Man and Black Panther were in the mix, and absolutely everybody was used to their full potential. Including... Giant Man!
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Wanda accidentally blew up part of a building when she levitated an exploding Crossbones who was in the middle of exploding. Sure some people got killed because of her inexperience. But the alternative was a lot more people on the ground getting wiped out? Including Captain America? I don't get how that pertinent fact was never raised in the entirety of the film. It bothers me because it's the whole turning point for The Accords being enacted, and it doesn't really make much sense.
   
SIDENOTE: Still hilarious to see Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei in a movie together again (I'm a big fan of Only You). Red Wing, which was a real-live falcon pal to The Falcon in the comics was made a drone in the movies. Once again we have Marvel being faithful to the source material... just updating it in a way that makes perfect sense! The Incredible Hulk is a movie largely ignored from the Marvel Studios canon, even though it was firmly established to be a part of it. And every once in a while, they drag out General Thunderbolt Ross to remind people of that. This actually makes me happy, because though Mark Ruffalo is better-suited to the role, the hulk movie was not a bad film at all. I expected that there would be a good reason for Thor and The Hulk being left out of Civil War, I just didn't expect it to be as good a reason as we were handed in Thor: Ragnarok. Once again, Marvel Studios knows exactly what they are doing.

   

Bird TV and Doctor Strange

Posted on Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Dave! I decided that I didn't want to spend money on bird seed if the birds didn't want to entertain my cats, because the seed they want to eat is expensive stuff. And so... I moved the feeder back to the window with the cat tree, figuring that this would be the end of it because the birds are afraid of the cats looking at them... except... not so much any more. If the feeder has the nyjer seed they love, the birds are more than happy to put fear aside. Darnit. Now I guess I have to keep buying the stuff because Jake and Jenny go nuts over their new television station...

Bird Feeder Shenanigans

Bird Feeder Shenanigans

Bird Feeder Shenanigans

Bird Feeder Shenanigans

I suppose it beats a catnip addiction.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 14: Doctor Strange
Original Grade: A • Today's Grade: A+
The two Marvel heroes I love above all others are Doctor Strange and Black Panther. To see The Master of the Mystic Arts hit the screen in such a spectacular way... and know that Black Panther was coming a little over a year later? Comic book Nirvana. That Doctor Strange ended up being so amazing was just icing on the cake. I don't know why I didn't give it a top A+ score when I first saw it, but upon repeat viewings there's no question it deserves it. The visuals were stunning. The story was an origin story, but it was a good origin story. Some changes they made to get here were terrific... Wong becoming an important character in his own right instead of a manservant stereotype, for example. Some changes were both good and bad... The Ancient One becoming a Celtic woman was good in that it broke another stereotype, but erasing a major Asian character was not good. Other decisions were bad (see below) but not enough to ruin the movie. When taken as a whole, Doctor Strange not only gave us a look at the mystic side of the MCU, it was just a really great movie. I think I love it more every time I see it.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: The battle in Mirror Dimension New York was flawless. To distinguish itself from other super-hero battles, Doctor Strange needed to do something entirely different. The trippy nature of this fight fit the bill perfectly.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: It still irks me that Marvel Studios eliminated Tibet from Doctor Strange's origin. Yes, yes, I understand that China is a big market and they were being politically "sensitive" to make sure that the film would be shown there... but still. It sucks.
   
SIDENOTE: I didn't think it could get much better than seeing Doctor Strange's Cloak of Levitation act as a supporting character in the film. Little did I know that it would go on to even greater importance in Avengers: Infinity War. Imbuing it with a certain level of sentience was genius.

   

Smoking and Spider-Man: Homecoming

Posted on Friday, August 17th, 2018

Dave!It's Friday! And I'm heading over the mountains again! Where, hopefully, there will be a lot less smoke than there is here. I'm having a hard time understanding how there's anything left around us to burn. We've had fires every summer for years now. Is it too much to hope for just one summer where I'm not having to struggle to breathe?

I need a vacation from smoke. But that's just over six weeks away. Hope I survive that long.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 16: Spider-Man: Homecoming
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
I thought that the first two Tobey Maguire /slash/ Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies were good. Then it all turned to shit in Spider-Man 3, and I was kinda done with the character. Then came The Amazing Spider-Man and its awful sequel and I was really done. At least I was until Captain America: Civil War came along and showed that Spider-Man could not only work in a movie... he could be exceptional in a movie. Then it was just a matter of waiting for the solo film to drop. Say hello to Spider-Man: Homecoming. So many things were perfect about it, but the biggest thing they did to get me onboard was make Spider-Man a kid. That's how he started, it's what made him unique, and the comics went off the rails when they had him getting married and all that. Here we are at the beginning, which is the best part, and it made for a fantastic entertainment. It's also good to see Spider-Man look, move, and act like you'd imagine Spider-Man would look, move, and act. Giving the film an A+ almost seems inadequate.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: Every scene between Tony and Peter is gold... especially the first one. But when Peter opens the door to Liz's house and you get that reveal? Then the follow-up drive to the prom? Sinister.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: I question turning the Spider-Man suit into Iron Man suit light. They address this in the film when Stark takes it away, but it still seems to go against the character. Not nearly as much as the suit he gets in Infinity War, but still.
   
SIDENOTE: Having Tony Stark be Peter Parker's mentor was yet another stroke of genius from Marvel Studios. What I was unsure about was turning Aunt May from a decrepit old woman to Marisa Tomei in Civil War. But once you see how it works, it's actually really smart. And now that she's found out that Peter is Spider-Man? Well... no old woman having a heart attack. Instead we've got Aunt May saying "What the f#@%?" more genius. Aunt May is fun instead of a wet blanket on the movie. That's a good thing. An observation... I noticed that the principal in Peter's school is the same actor who played one of Cap's Howling Commandos, so I Googled it. Sure enough, it's the same guy: Kenneth Choi. Relative? Descendant? Another observation... When Happy Hogan is loading up the transport plane he talks about a new shield prototype for Captain America. Why would he be making a new shield for somebody he took the original shield from? Weird. One last thought... Michael Keaton's The Vulture was far better, scarier, and capable villain than we got from Ultron, which makes me appreciate this film even more. The great soundtrack was just icing on the cake.

   

Caturday 73 and Thor: Ragnarok

Posted on Saturday, August 18th, 2018

Dave!The bird feeder outside the window continues to be the gift that keeps on giving.

The cats are happy to spend hours watching the birds come and go. Jake spends the most time watching Bird TV... pawing at the window and chattering at them, but Jenny is a bit stealthier about it, preferring to hide like the hunter she is...

Jenny the Bird Watcher

No doubt in my mind that both my cats would be massacring birds by the dozens if they could get at them. Just one more reason to keep them indoors, I suppose. Poor birds.

And poor bugs.

Any time a bug finds its way into my house, Jake and Jenny are all too happy to hunt them down. Like the poor cricket which Jenny was kind enough to bring in this past week. I saw she had something in her mouth... feared the worst... then watched as she spit him on the floor so she could chase him. Jake also decided to run up and get in on the action...

Jenny the Bug Hunter

Jenny the Bug Hunter

Jenny the Bug Hunter

As much as Jake likes chasing an occasional bug, he seems to prefer his toys. In addition to Mufasa, his stuffed lion, he loves his Peeps Bunny...

Jake and Peeps Bunny

And he really loves Catnip Lobster...

Jake and Catnip Lobster

Every once in a while he plays "Watch the Dummy" and will throw it on the bed and wait for me to pick it up and hand it back...

Jake and Catnip Lobster

Jake and Catnip Lobster

Jake and Catnip Lobster

Toys are far preferable to bird corpses, I'd think.

They're definitely preferable to bug vomit.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 17: Thor: Ragnarok
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
Easily one of my favorite Marvel Studios films... perhaps my very favorite... I love this film now as much as I ever did. Deciding to take Thor in a more comedic direction and deconstruct everything he was to this point was absolutely brilliant, and made the character more cinematically interesting than he had ever been.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: All of them. I mean, yeah, the Hulk reveal and subsequent fight is awesome... as is Valkyrie's... and any scene with the incomparable Cate Blanchett's Hela was gold... and Jeff Goldblum was too perfect as The Grandmaster... and that gorgeous battle between Hela and the Valkyrie... and the battle on the Rainbow Bridge with Thor at full power... and Thor meeting Doctor Strange is the stuff that comic book dreams are made of... and... and... and... it goes on and on and on.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Though I still think it was shortsighted and selfish to kill off The Warriors Three.
   
SIDENOTE: Could there have been a bigger love letter to the art of Jack Kirby than this movie? With every new viewing, I'm even more amazed at just how beautiful and faithful Sakaar is to Kirby's work.

   

Bullet Sunday 475 and Black Panther

Posted on Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Dave!Attempting to battle my way through the smoke... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Fires! The weather over the mountains was a bit hazy, but the skies were clear much of the time which was a nice change. Looking towards home this morning revealed what was awaiting me. At the top of the pass it was socked in and it never let up all the way home...

Smoke and Fire Summer 2018

Supply trucks are on the road, headed towards the fire front...

Smoke and Fire Summer 2018

And... I'm home. Such as it is...

Smoke and Fire Summer 2018

The largest of the fires, Cougar Creek (currently 36719 acres), is just 16 miles north of me. It's spread a bit since I last checked, but is now 35% contained, which is pretty impressive work by our firefighters considering it was just 5% contained on Monday...

Central Washington Fire Map Summer 2018

Central Washington Fire Map Summer 2018

I guess now is the time we pray for rain. But no lightning, which is what started this fire in the first place.

   
• Entertainment! Turns out the best toy for a cat is still a cardboard box...

Jake and Jenny in a Box

Anything I can do to keep the cats entertained inside the house instead of out in a smokey catio is a good thing.

   
• Soul. Aretha Franklin passed away which means the Queen of Soul has left us. There are many songs she's given us which put her on the throne... but my favorite is her duet with George Michael for I knew You Were Waiting...

Too many classic artists are leaving us too soon. Rest in peace, Miss Franklin.

   
• Bears! This video came across my newsfeed and I had to watch it multiple times...

I always feel bad for animals who have their territory encroached on by humans. The least we can do is let them take a dip in our pools from time to time.

   
• Outrage! Oh... I am outraged alright, Pat. Don't you worry your foolish old head about that.

Lock children in cages and separate them from their parents perhaps never to return because of a line on a map = God's work.

Reading to children = Work of the devil and the end of all humanity.

Just die already you vile, worthless, repugnant piece of shit.

   
• EnChroma! Instead of spending billions on a stupid wall that won't work... and a military parade to compensate for a tiny, tiny penis on a fucking lunatic... why not buy these EnChroma glasses for everybody who needs them? There are literally thousands of things that are a better use for money this country doesn't have...


And yet... here we are. Getting exactly what we deserve.

   
And that's a wrap on bullets for this week. Tune in again in a mere seven days...


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 18: Black Panther
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
"Hey Auntie." =sigh= As I had mentioned, My favorite Marvel heroes have always been Doctor Strange and Black Panther. To get movies this amazing for both characters was a dream come true. Though calling Black Panther "good" is an epic understatement. This film was sublime. Steeped in African culture, we got something truly different than the Western super-hero fare which had come before. The fact that they were so painfully faithful to the source material is just a bonus. It was all here. The vast hidden wealth and mind-boggling technical superiority of Wakanda. The Dora Milaje. Character references old and new. And then they went and made T'Challa into a super-hero James Bond!
   
SCENE TO BEAT: That casino fight and subsequent car chase in South Korea was pretty spectacular.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Not a dang thing.
   
SIDENOTE: I want sequels to all the Marvel movies. All of them. There is not a single film that's left me thinking "Well, that's enough of that." But when it comes to the sequel I want to see right this minute... it's Black Panther. Things could head in a hundred different directions and almost all of them are going to be fascinating. And then there's the Wakanda outreach program, which has fascinating implications for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Surely another movie is coming soon, right? The first one made like... a billion dollars!

   

Future MCU and Avengers: Infinity War

Posted on Monday, August 20th, 2018

Dave!Since this is the last day of my re-reviewing all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies until Ant-Man and The Wasp is released on home video, I thought I'd do something related to that.

Here's a list of Marvel Studios movies I'd like to see that are not sequels...

  • Black Widow. Come on already. This is a literal no-brainer. Natasha has been an anchor for the entire MCU for years, and it's insane that she hasn't been given a story of her own. And, let me tell you, she had better get some major guest stars to cameo.
  • Alpha Flight. Canada's version of The Avengers has long been one of my favorite Marvel teams. And it's a movie which could easily be taken into a supernatural direction, expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe into a new area. Or just create a straightforward super-team and tie it heavily to Canada in order to keep it unique. Either way, it's a book with characters who would work great as a movie.
  • Fantastic Four. All three previous Non-Marvel-Studios Fantastic Four movies were total shit. First of all, not one of them got The Thing right, which is key. Second of all, the take has always been all wrong. The way to approach this franchise is to go with the idea of them being "Imaginauts" and the first family of adventure.
  • Namor. This is kinda a tricky property given that he is basically a cooler version of Aquaman. But given the right "launch" in a Fantastic Four film, he could easily fall out into a solo movie which would be incredible in the right hands.
  • Moon Knight. This is essentially Marvel's "Batman," and if he were handled right he could make for a very cool movie. Or a Netflix series.
  • Captain Britain & Excalibur. This is kinda a no-brainer, in that he's a popular character tied to a location that's not New York. And while Excalibur is essentially a team of X-Men-type characters, they wouldn't have to be.
  • Vision & Scarlet Witch. Seeing these two characters work so perfectly in Infinity War really had me thinking how amazing a film would be. Their powers are visually interesting which makes for very cool fight scene potential. Their romantic angle makes for an interesting story element. And their comic book history has a lot to draw from.
  • Wonder Man. Simon Williams as a character could make for a fun movie for a dozen different reasons... but if they were to capitalize on the time he was a Hollywood stuntman it would be an excellent setup for comedy gold.
  • Hawkeye. To be honest, I think this would be much better as a Netflix series. And yet, it could also work as a movie that's entirely different than anything that's come before. The direction that Matt Fraction and David Aja took Clint in the comics was sublime, and I think it's a story that needs to be told.
  • Nova. We've already gotten a look at The Nova Corps in Guardians of the Galaxy, so a Nova movie would already have a base to build from (assuming Xandar could be restored after getting destroyed by Thanos).
  • Longshot. This series had it all... a really fun character thrown into bizarre situations with a fantastic villain to keep things interesting. Could be total cinematic eye candy and highly entertaining if they stuck to the comic book roots.
  • Power Pack. Even though this was a comic book geared towards children, I found it to be highly entertaining. This could be one of those films that's made for children but can be appreciated by adults... like so many films that Disney has already made. This is the perfect franchise to turn into a movie.

Not included in my list, but obvious contenders, are The X-Men... which has been hopelessly fucked up in past films and deserves an official Marvel Studios treatment at last. From there it's just a short hop to Avengers vs. X-Men. Also? Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) needs to shake out of all this somehow... though I'm not exactly sure how. Despite being an amazing character, her powers are kinda goofy, and I'm not sure how they're going to A) depict them in a realistic way on the big screen and B) make sure there's no confusion between her and Captain Marvel.

Needless to say, I am hugely interested in where Marvel Studios will be going after Captain Marvel, Avengers 4, Spider-Man: Far from Home, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 are in the can. My guess it we'll start hearing about some of it early next year.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 19: Avengers: Infinity War
Original Grade: A • Today's Grade: A+
The more times I watch this film, the more I love it... hence it jumping to a perfect A+ score. It seems impossible that a movie so epic in scope holds together this well. Still, it's a dense story, which is why I think it needs repeat viewings to be appreciated. I first reviewed this film just four months ago... all the things I love about it have grown stronger while the things I didn't seem to fall away. That's the mark of a great movie.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: Any moment where Doctor Strange's Cloak of Levitation is treated as a character. Making it sentient was total genius, and I absolutely love the way it interacted with Iron Man and Spider-Man on Ebony Maw's ship.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: I still think that Peter Quill getting all emotional and being responsible for Thanos winning on Titan was stupid. I don't care how much he thinks he loves Gamora, it was just ridiculously out of character to have him check out and be an idiot. They could have fixed this by just having Thanos overpower the heroes and leave. End scene.
   
SIDENOTE: As of this film, the only one of The Nine Relms we haven't seen is Alfheim, home of the Light Elves. Maybe eventually?

   

Bullet Sunday 477

Posted on Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

Dave!When is Sunday not Sunday? When Sunday comes before Labor Day! But don't celebrate just yet... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Real Problems! Couldn't find my iPhone. So I used Find my iPhone to locate my iPhone only to be told that my iPhone was not responding. So I decided to drive home and see if I left my iPhone at home in a lead vault or something. When I got to my car I found my iPhone baking in the passenger seat. Then my iPhone told me that my iPhone has to cool down before I can use it. Which is fine except then I couldn't remember what I wanted my iPhone for in the first place. Probably everything.

   
• Channel! I love history. I love smart videos. These two things collide in a brilliant YouTube Channel called Oversimplified...

All their videos are worth watching. You can visit the Oversimplified Channel here.

   
• New Ocean! Finally got around to watching Ocean's 8. I loved this movie. Not necessarily for the story, which was serviceable and smart (though lacking the abundance of fun of the Clooney flicks)... but for the cast. They made it fun. And stylish. And having it take place at The Met Gala was genius. Really, really hoping for a sequel.

Ocean's 8 Poster

Ocean's Eleven made $451 million on an $85 million budget and got two sequels. Ocean's 8 made $292 on a $70 budget. So it definitely made money... but is it enough money for the studio to greenlight another? Fingers crossed.

   
• Be Like Coke! The true power of good advertising...

I hope some ad agency is getting a bonus.

   
• Squatchie! And speaking of amazing advertising, I laughed more than a couple times at this viral marketing brilliance...

I hope some ad agency is getting a bonus.

   
• Clancey! After a lot of weeks waiting in anticipation for the latest adaptation of Jack Ryan to be released on Amazon Prime, I ended up a little disappointed.

Jack Ryan Poster

This show has a lot of activity buzzing around too little story. I ended up liking it well enough... but it could have easily been distilled into a much shorter, stronger series with a more disciplined approach to the material. The original movies (namely The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger) showed just how good these stories can be in the right hands. Hopefully the second season (which was greenlit before a single episode aired) will end up having tighter pacing.

   
And... back to Real Life.

   

That’s Marvelous

Posted on Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

Dave!Entertainment Weekly has a feature on the new Captain Marvel movie coming up from Marvel Studios.

I was never a fan of the original Captain Marvel and didn't care much about his cosmic exploits unless they crossed over with other Marvel characters I liked. But things got a lot more interesting when Carol Danvers (formerly Ms. Marvel, formerly Binary, formerly Warbird) took over the role. Her comic book run by Kelly Sue DeConnick was fantastic stuff and I've been a fan of Captain Marvel ever since

And now this...

Captain Marvel EW Cover

I think I peed myself a little bit when I saw it.

I cannot fathom what they are going to put her up against. She's the most powerful character in the MCU, so they will undoubtedly come up with an antagonist to match. The brutality of the battles had better be epic and put The Hulk to shame. I mean, we know the primary antagonist will be the Skrulls... but in what way? The Skrull/Kree War is a huge staple of the comic books, but how is that going to translate? No idea. I'll bet it's awesome though...

Captain Marvel Images

Another photo shows Ronan the Accuser, but this movie takes place in the 90's long before he got an Infinity Stone and was killed in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. So he's just a regular, albeit talented, Kree warrior...

Captain Marvel Images

Thanks to Marvel's love of de-aging characters, a young Nick Fury is in the mix. Apparently he has a major role to play, because Samuel L. Jackson's part is being touted as the first time a character has been de-aged for an entire movie!

Captain Marvel Images

Amazing, amazing stuff.

It's a long wait until Captain Marvel debuts on March 8, 2019!

   

Bullet Sunday 479

Posted on Sunday, September 16th, 2018

Dave!Fall has arrived and warm Summer days are over, but all is not lost... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Dark! Whilst looking for something new to watch on Netflix I happened upon Dark Tourist. The show was a bit meh until the fourth episode when host David Farrier visited Turkmenistan. Holy shit. If not for North Korea, this would be the most bizarre restricted country on earth! Even if you don't want to watch the show you owe it to yourself to at least watch the animated intro, which is fantastic...

And here's the trailer for the actual show...

If you're bored and like off-the-grid travel, Dark Tourist is worth checking out!

   
• Tourist! And speaking of travel...

It's funny because it's true.

   
• Tammy! And speaking of things that are funny because they're true...

Classic Redneck Tammy!

   
• Solo! It's difficult to sort through my feeling on a movie which was essentially two hours of Easter eggs. Most likely because this ended up being both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it firmly entrenches the film in the Star Wars universe. A curse because you spend the entire film going "So that's why that happens" and "So that's how that started." Fun as this was, it was a bit distracting. And not in a good way...

Solo: A Star Wars Story

The story was actually kind of good, and having it constantly being interrupted with made for a bit of a slog. Even so, it's a beautiful film to look at. It has a great cast. The special effects and sound design are incredible and the action sequences are well-constructed. I just wish it had more of an imagination about it and broke new ground to keep moving the Star Wars Universe forward. Instead it's more of the same. Which puts it in the middle of the pack of Star Wars movies for me...

Star Wars Movies Ranking

I was hoping for a bit more, but still liked it quite a lot. I wish I had seen it in a really good theater, but I bought into the rumors that Alden Ehrenreich was so terrible that he required an acting coach and the movie was going to be terrible. But he was terrific as Han Solo. Guess that's what I get for believing internet rumors.

   
• Caught! You know how you happen across a video and it's pretty great and you want to see more so you click over to YouTube to see what else there is? Yeah... this started it all...

Adorable. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all judges were like this instead of megalomaniac assholes? If you want to fall down a YouTube rabbit hole of entertaining videos, the Caught in Providence channel is worth a look!

   
• Heart! Ooh! The latest book from Thrice Publishing is out! This wonderful tale of growing up in Ireland from longtime Thrice Fiction contributor James Claffey is a perfect add to your Fall reading list, and is now in-stock at Amazon with Free 2-Day Shipping for Amazon Prime members!

Star Wars Movies Ranking

   
And that's a wrap. Have a great week!

   

O Captain! My Captain!

Posted on Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Dave!I woke up at 5:00am this morning... crossing my fingers that the emails I was waiting for had been answered so I could get to work. I really, really wanted to start in early so I could get off work early and continue cleaning my garage. But, alas, no work emails.

What I did get was a notification that Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel trailer and poster had been released. Something that I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for.

Worth the wait (as if there were any doubt)...

Captain Marvel Poster

Totally worth the wait...

And so I spent the next 20 minutes obsessing over the trailer and what we were going to get out of the finished movie. As one does. Let's unpack this, shall we?

We start with Carol Danvers crashing into a Blockbuster. Just in case you needed a big ol' slap in the face that this movie takes place in the past...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

LOL. Yep! That's aughtta do it...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

At this point, Carol is still in her Kree warrior costume. I'm not entirely sure how the movie will interpret her long, complicated comic book history, but it would seem that she originated on earth, ended up a part of the Kree Empire due to her hybrid genetic makeup, and eventually ends up back on earth. Assumably to thwart a Skrull invasion (the Skrulls being longtime enemies of the Kree)...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Interesting to note that people are totally ignoring her costume. I mean, yeah, this is New York... but super-heroes are not a "thing" at this point in time so you'd think it would be a strange sight?

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

And... here's Samuel L. Jackson as Agent Nick Fury hanging around a Skrull autopsy. And that other guy in there... could it be?

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

I am guessing that this is where Carol Danvers life is changed forever. She's a fighter pilot for the US military heading into space to investigate a spaceship. I'm guessing it's at this point that her DNA is merged with that of Mar-Vell, a Kree warrior, paving the way for her to become Captain Marvel...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Annnnnd... here's the money shot. To me at least. Carol in full Captain Marvel gear blasting the shit out of something with her energy beams. I had a real concern that Marvel would downgrade her power set because she's Just. That. Powerful. and they didn't know what to do with her. Eliminating her energy manipulation powers was the obvious way to do that. But... here we are... praise be to Kree-Pama...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

We knew that Samuel L. Jackson would be appearing as his younger self in this movie. And while nobody does de-aging special effects better than Marvel, it does seem a little uncanny valley when you take a frame out of the context of motion...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

"Soooo... you're not from around here..." — "It's hard to explain." — Indeed it is...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Back into space. I don't think this is earth, so I'm guessing this is the spaceship carrying Carol Danvers to the Kree Homeworld (which is probably Hala, at this point?)...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

And we're jumping around time and space again. Back to earth. Here's Carol Danvers with Maria Rambeau. Not Monica Rambeau from the modern-day Marvel Cinematic Universe... but Maria "Photon" Rambeau from the past. Which makes her Monica Rambeau's mom... I'm guessing? Monica Rambeau is best known as the super-hero Photon, but was also Captain Marvel at one time. She was also "Pulsar" and "Spectrum"...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Here's where things get interesting. Carol Danvers falls back to earth after her run-in with the Skrulls/Kree. I'm guessing this is after her DNA has been infused with Kree goodness, because otherwise she'd be dead... wouldn't she?

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

And now we're jumping ahead again because Carol is in her blue, red, and gold uniform instead of her green Kree uniform. Apparently she's been captured. And they're experimenting on her? Or maybe just confining her...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Jumping back in time again... because here's Carol in her Kree warrior uniform again. In the comics there are Blue Kree (apparently the default) and Pink Kree and a long, complicated history between them. No idea how that will be streamlined for the movies...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

And... Mr. Jude Law, everyone! My guess (along with every other fanboy on the internet) is that he is playing Mar-Vell. Which is the original Captain Marvel in the comic books...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

The Skrulls... arriving on earth, I'm guessing...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Oh look! Carol is punching a kindly old woman in the face! Except... we all know that she's not a kindly old woman. She's a shape-shifting Skrull pretending to be a kindly old woman! Mark my words... the Skrulls are going to be a major story in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe. If events follow the comics, there are Skrulls who have replaced several Marvel super-heroes and are just waiting for their Skrull brothers and sisters to return to earth for another shot at domination...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

And... heeeeere's Ronan, everybody! This is long before Ronan the Accuser manages to get his hands on an Infinity Stone and make trouble for the Guardians of the Galaxy. At this point he's just a regular Kree. And possibly Carol Danvers' boss...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

There we go! It's young Phil Coulson! Whose first name I'm pretty sure is "Agent." Needless to say, I am positively thrilled to see him return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don't watch the Marvel's Agents of SHIELD television show (loathe it so hard), so it's nice to see such a great character again...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

It's Nick Fury with his pocket pager! A different model than the pocket pager he uses to summon Captain Marvel at the end of Avengers: Infinity War...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Underwater Kree! I am really hoping that this is Carol Danvers in this shot. At one point in the comics she had a mohawk, so this would be a fun nod to the source material...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Uh oh... somebody just got zapped...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Yep, looks like Carol to me!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Annnnnnd... could that head be MONICA RAMBEAU?!? I sure hope so! Boy oh boy am I excited to see her join the Marvel Cinematic Universe...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

And here's Captain Marvel's final costume in all its glory...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

"I'm not what you think I am." Nice! And we end with the movie logo, which is oh so pretty...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Needless to say, I am 1000% stoked to see this movie. Having to wait until March 8th, 2019 is a bit harsh, but I just know it will be worth the wait. Marvel ain't about to start screwing up now. Not that they've been absolutely killing it movie after movie for ten years!

If only I could go into a coma until then so I wouldn't have to be here all anticipating it and stuff. I am not a patient man.

   

Bullet Sunday 480

Posted on Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

Dave!Pull up on that pumpkin spice latte... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Boston! My beloved Red Sox are American League East champions for the third year in a row...

Dave Loves the Red Sox!

LET'S GO, BOSTON!

   
• The Last O.G.! I was watching... something... on TBS and saw a commercial for Tracy Morgan in The Last O.G.. As a huge, huge, mega-huge fan of Tracy, I was excited to see it. Only to find out that it had already aired this past Spring...

It is phenomenal. Funny as hell. But touching too. I loved every episode and am relieved to find out that it has already been renewed for a second season. Highest possible recommendation. If you haven't seen it, please do yourself a favor and take a look.

   
• Believer! The last thing I would ever want to do is convict an innocent person for a crime they did not commit. That being said, Brett Kavanaugh is up for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. There is no walking this back. And since it makes no sense whatsoever that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford would invite a felony by lying to the FBI (or invite death threats towards her and her family), I think it's critical that an investigation be done. Especially now that more women have come forward. Anybody who thinks otherwise is either an asshole or wanting to serve a personal agenda over the good of this country...

I believe women. I believe in due process. I believe in innocence until proven guilty. I believe in justice. And I seriously question those who would sidestep any of that. Like the fucking piece of shit publisher of our local newspaper who equates rape to cheating at golf and smoking (you only think I'm joking). I don't expect people appointed to the Supreme Court to be perfect. They're human, after all. But I do expect them to not be rapists. Because no, not all boys do it, and rewarding this heinous behavior only propagates the rape culture that keeps creating new generations of rapists. It's got to finally end sometime. That time is now. Because time's up.

   
• Family! To all the single parents... to all the double dads... to all the double moms... to everyone who is trying to raise the best kid they can while listening to people scream "EVERY CHILD NEEDS A MOM AND A DAD!" over and over and over... know that you are exactly enough. Love alone makes a family. It always has...

Mom is Dad for Dad Day

I saw this meme floating through my Facebook feed and was reminded for the hundredth time that the people who think it's their business to stick their nose into other people's business are the ones most likely guilty of whatever it is they are professing to hate. So you do you. Everybody else is just doing the best they can with the cards they were dealt and don't deserve your stupid-ass judgement.

   
• Cold! This has got to be the most insane political commercial I've seen yet...

What kind of piece of shit do you have to be to have all your siblings not only not vote for you... but take out a devastating opposition ad to boot? Cold!

   
• Chewie! It's the little things that add up to make a good thing great. Nobody is more aware of this than Marvel Studios. In their new movie poster for Captain Marvel, people have been noticing a cat walking off-frame in the shadows. I took a look in there with Photoshop and, sure enough, there's a cat there...

Chewie the Cat?!?

This is undoubtedly meant to be Carol Danvers' cat, Chewie! Who is not actually a cat, but an alien species called "Flerken" which resemble and earth cat. He's a rather large part of the Captain Marvel comic books, having made several appearances...

Chewie the Cat?!?

Chewie the Cat?!?

Holy crap does Marvel know how to handle their characters. And now it's been confirmed that Kevin Feige will be overseeing The X-Men and The Fantastic Four in addition to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As it should have been all along! So long, FOX, your shitty, shitty, unbelievably shitty super-hero movies will not be missed.

And that's not all in Marvel news... rumor has it that Loki and The Scarlet Witch may be getting their own TV series on Disney's new streaming service. That will be fantastic, if it happens. But if I'm being honest? The character I most want to get a TV show is Hawkeye. If they were to base it on the Matt Fraction and David Aja comic book run, it would be absolutely amazing.

   
And... I'm done with bullets for the day. I got things to do.

   

James Bond Themes: RANKED!

Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2018

Dave!I've decided this will be a week of ranking random things! And to start? I'm ranking all the James Bond themes.

As a big fan of the franchise, seeing who they get to crank out the movie's theme song is always part of the fun because it's a real hit-or-miss with me. And here we go...

  1. The original James Bond Theme (John Barry, Dr. No) — The fact that this is one of the most well-known pieces of movie score ever written (and has endured as such even to this day) is a testament to just how amazing it is.
  2. Live and Let Die (Paul McCartney & Wings, Live and Let Die) — Quintessential James Bond movie theme song with all the complexity you'd expect from Paul McCartney. He started soft, building to a frantic assault on your brain... then dropped into a near-whimsical interlude before slamming forward again... then dropped into another interlude of strings and romance... before bringing it home with a bold crescendo of a finish. No theme song that followed captured the entirety of a James Bond story the way that this one did. In lesser hands, it would have undoubtedly been a mess, but that's McCartney for you.
  3. For Your Eyes Only (Sheena Easton, For Your Eyes Only) — In many ways, this is my favorite James Bond theme song. Elegant, powerful, and sublimely beautiful in the way that it set the stage for the film. Lyrically, vocally, and musically is all came together to just work. This was the first James Bond movie I saw in a theater, which probably taints my feelings a bit, but I'm making no apologies for that.
  4. Moonraker (Shirley Bassey, Moonraker) — This is the song that mires any list I make in controversy, because Shirley Bassey's other tracks (for Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever) are widely regarded as James Bond mainstays and far superior to Moonraker. I disagree. If anything, I feel that this is the song which best uses her immense talent to best service the James Bond aesthetic. Rather than plowing over the top of the music with her power, Bassey's restraint here allows the majesty of a soaring musical score to shine while still showcasing what makes her the Queen of Bond Theme Songs. If there's a misstep, it's the annoying "ting ting" of a triangle that should have been more subtle by at least half, but it's a small blot on an otherwise flawless track.
  5. A View to a Kill (Duran Duran, A View to a Kill) — An exciting theme song opening with a pop flare that only a band like Duran Duran could give it, this is exactly what you want when you ask "the band of the moment" to write the opening track for your Bond movie. Despite being a song so obviously rooted in the 80's I honestly don't think it's badly dated by today's standards, which is quite an accomplishment.
  6. Skyfall (Adelle, Skyfall) — It's weird. I love Adelle, the person, but don't care for her music much. Then Skyfall comes along... and she absolutely nailed it. So painfully Bond it hurts, this is how you you do it. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.
  7. The World is Not Enough (Garbage, The World is Not Enough) — On the surface, this seems like an odd match-up... I mean, Garbage? Really? But then you hear Shirley Manson's flawless vocals carrying you through a dream-like trance of a soaring orchestral score and you totally get it. What's so cool is that it breaks free of being boring with occasional punch and a fantastic finish that leads you right into the movie... which really should have been better than what we got.
  8. License to Kill (Gladys Night, License to Kill) — Gladys Knight totally killing it as you knew she would. This is a beautiful, powerful song with some great vocal and musical moments which make it next-level stuff. The lyrics were perfect as well, feeling very Bond from start to finish.
  9. Nobody Does it Better (Carly Simon, The Spy Who Loved Me) — The most secretly overtly sexual theme song in the entire Bond franchise, this is one of those songs that is both so very James Bond and the least Bond-sounding. It's probably that conundrum that makes me appreciate it over more appropriately-themed tracks on this list.
  10. The Living Daylights (a-ha, The Living Daylights) — Seeing as how a-ha is one of my all-time favorite bands, it should comes as no surprise that I love this track. It's a beautiful song, and I think it was an imaginative way to reflect the themes in the movie (as all good theme songs should). But I seriously struggle a bit as to where it belongs on this list because it lacks the gravitas that songs need to work as a good Bond theme. Rounding out my top-ten felt "right" even though there are tracks below which feel more "Bond" to me.
  11. Goldeneye (Tina Turner, Goldeneye) — Perhaps it was having to work the word "Goldeneye" into the lyrics which made this song not quite come together... but it's otherwise got a lot going for it. Like Tina Turner crooning over a sultry score that feels both retro and modern at the same time. Not quite timeless, but memorable enough to make me like it.
  12. Die Another Day (Madonna, Die Another Day) — This song does not hold up as well as a James Bond theme should. It's badly dated by the autotune trickery, and I can't help but feel that Madonna had a much, much better Bond theme in her somewhere. Even so, I've always liked this track and felt the rabid criticism of it was unjustified. At least it tries to be interesting both musically and vocally, which is more than you can say for a lot of songs on this list. Sure, there distractions dragging it down ("Sigmund Freud?!?"), but it paired very well with the Pierce Brosnan torture scenes it was played to.
  13. Diamonds are Forever (Shirley Bassey, Diamonds are Forever) — Despite having the unimaginably powerful vocals of Shirley Bassey behind it, the lyrics and singing are a bit of a slog for me. Where this track really shines is in the music, which has some really great moments in there.
  14. Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey, Goldfinger) — Yeah, yeah, I'm a heathen for having the most memorable of all the Bond theme songs not make my top ten... but it just doesn't "do it" for me. Bassey can belt it out with the best of them, but this was all power all the time with no subtle moments to make all that power feel as impressive as her other two takes on a Bond theme song. And that ending? Lord. So over the top as to be grating. I just don't get it.
  15. You Only Live Twice (Nancy Sinatra, You Only Live Twice) — This is such a beautiful musical arrangement that it pains me to drop it so low on my list. But the vocals just kill it. Nancy Sinatra didn't have the power to pull it off and the lyrics were forgettable.
  16. Tomorrow Never Dies (Sheryl Crow, Tomorrow Never Dies) — Despite liking Sheryl Crow and finding the musical arrangement to be nice enough, this song doesn't really work for me. It seems more disjointed than Live or Let Die, which is really saying something. As if that weren't enough, it's so sleepy and boring that you're nodding off before the movie even gets going.
  17. Thunderball (Tom Jones, Thunderball) — Gag-inducing song with lyrics so awful that Tom Jones attempts to compensate by blasting them out in the most annoying way possible. ANY WOMAN HE WANTS, HE GETS! HE'LL BREAK ANY HEART WITHOUT REGRET! =insert eyeroll emoji= This was the only song on this list that I could not bring myself to listen to all the way through.
  18. You Know My Name (Chris Cornell, Casino Royale) — Just awful. I still can't fathom how the first movie of the brilliant reboot of James Bond with Daniel Craig managed to be saddled with such a horrendous clash of lame rock stylings and dated vocals. The only thing that places it this high on my list is that I think they lyrics have something to say.
  19. All Time High (Rita Coolidge, Octopussy) — This song starts out so subtle and beautiful, which leads you to believe that it's building to something. Except it never does. It dives into sleepy and boring tedium and never escapes. Maybe with someone like Shirley Bassey behind it this track could have broken free of what we got... but, alas, snoozefest.
  20. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (John Barry, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) — Despite being a musical number, the beautiful build-up feels very James Bond to me, and I can't help but wonder if some vocals would have elevated it past where it ended up, which is notable but not great. What was great? We Have All the Time in the World by Louis Armstrong, which was also in the film.
  21. From Russia with Love (John Barry, From Russia with Love) — A very pretty musical arrangement, but kind of dour and boring too. A James Bond theme needs to slap you in the face and this one puts you to sleep.
  22. The Man with the Golden Gun (Lulu, The Man with the Golden Gun) — If I had to sum up this song in one word it would be "irritating." Everything from Lulu's grating vocals to the inane lyrics were subpar.
  23. Another Way to Die (Jack White & Alicia Keys, Quantum of Solace) — I don't get it. I like Jack White. I love Alicia keys. But put them together and you get this disaster. This is the film that followed the incredible James Bond reboot heading in an amazing new direction... and was a prelude for the movie being a major step down. Blargh.
  24. Writing’s on the Wall (Sam Smith, Spectre) — What a whiny pile of overindulgent shit. Not just the worst James Bond theme song ever, maybe the worst song ever. I cannot understand why people enjoy Sam Smith, as I don't think he can craft a tune to save his life. But plenty of people do, so I'm guessing it's just me? The only song on this list that I didn't bother to listen to because I already know I loathe it on every possible level. I still remember sitting in the theater in utter disbelief that this horrendous crap was blasting through the speakers. The stuff of nightmares. This is what's playing non-stop on the radio in hell. Cannot possibly come up with the words to even remotely describe how much I hate this track, which not only makes me lose my will to live, but also to never watch another James Bond movie again. Just dredging up my suppressed memories of hearing Writing's on the Wall is enough to make me wish I was never born. Or, if I were capable of clearer thinking while writing about such a travesty, that Sam Smith was never born. A song like this ends civilizations. Heaven only knows its very existence killed ours. Lord save us from the universe-leveling apocalypse which must surely be imminent. Or don't. We totally deserve to be wiped from all creation for allowing such a monstrosity to be unleashed on an unsuspecting universe. I hate this song. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it times infinity. Nay, even the infinite does not put my loathing into proper perspective. I hate it far wore than that. This is multi-dimensional, timeless, all encompassing hatred which spans everything, everywhere, in realms both real and imagined. And those yet to be imagined. And those unimagined. Oh I hate this song so much.

In retrospect, I probably should have ranked the actual movies. Oh well. Maybe one day.

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Pixar Movies: RANKED!

Posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Dave!With the exception of the Cars trilogy, there aren't any Pixar films I actively dislike. For everything else, it's just a matter of degrees. Some of them are exceptionally brilliant... others are just really good animated features.

Here's my ranking from favorite to not-so-favorite...

  1. Monsters Inc. In my mind, there's no more perfect Pixar film than this. Compelling story. Loads of humor. Amazing characters (including Sully, my favorite). Everything I love about Pixar in one movie.
  2. The Incredibles The best Fantastic 4 film yet made. And, until Marvel Studios hit the scene four years later, one of the best super-hero films ever made. The architectural style of this film is over-the-top beautiful.
  3. The Incredibles 2 More of the same. Which would usually be a bad thing... but they pushed it into another level of brilliance.
  4. Toy Story 2 I was mortified when I heard there was a sequel happening to Toy Story because I was convinced most sequels were crap. Boy did I get proved wrong. A brilliant follow-up that actually improved on the first one.
  5. Up Pixar has a way of putting a lot of heart into their projects. This is probably the film that tugged on the most heartstrings for me. And, as if that wasn't enough, they went and put Dug in there too.
  6. Toy Story The film that started it all, and Pixar completely knocked it out of the park.
  7. Toy Story 3 A lot of people put this at the top of their list. It's easy to see why, but it felt a little emotionally manipulative and deliberate to me. Still an amazing film.
  8. Finding Nemo What I love about this film is how beautifully the story all came together. Sure it looked good. Sure the plot was clever. But it flowed so naturally from scene to scene... from moment to moment... from start to finish.
  9. Coco One of the most beautiful movies ever made. If the story wasn't so overtly manipulative, I probably would have ranked it higher.
  10. Wall-E I think my expectations were too high here. It was a wonderful film, but I had a tougher time buying into the story than I probably should have given that it was about robots. I can say that it had the best end-credits of a Pixar film.
  11. Monsters University A terrific flick, but it seemed like a missed opportunity to go back in time for a prequel. Nobody could come up with a sequel idea worth working on? Even so, Sully remains my favorite Pixar character by a wide margin.
  12. Brave A movie that's insanely gorgeous to look at, but kinda fell apart for me story-wise. Merida seems short-changed, which is a shame, because you can tell they were trying to push the idea of "Disney Princess" into a better direction.
  13. Finding Dory I'm not entirely convinced this was a sequel worth telling. But, then again, it was still a really good movie.
  14. Inside Out This is consistently one of the best-rated Pixar films... and I get that. It's a beautiful, heartfelt story, but it also has a level of detachment to it that made it tough for me to buy into.
  15. Ratatouille Cute characters that are beautifully rendered. But the human characters, particularly the lead, dragged everything down for me.
  16. A Bug's Life It would be easy to say that this movie hasn't held up well, which is why it's so low on my list. That's not entirely true. I think it's just as visually stunning as it ever was. The voice acting and story are entertaining. It's pretty fantastic so far as cartoon movies go. But when compared to all the other Pixar films? It's a weak link for me. Didn't dislike it, just didn't care for it as much as others.
  17. Cars I couldn't get into the world they were building here. Anamorphic cars just did not work for me (surprising given my love of the Chevron cars), and I didn't care for the story much to boot.
  18. The Good Dinosaur It's not that I hated the film... it certainly looked pretty... and it's way above other cartoon crap... it's just that it lacked the multi-level appeal that allows adults to find fun in a juvenile film.
  19. Cars 3 So bad. I was bored, bored, bored. Repetitive and dull from start to finish. Can't believe this got a theatrical release.
  20. Cars 2 So very bad. This was the movie that convinced me that Pixar's magic was in serious decline. The reason I place it dead-last is because of the stupid-as-shit "spy" plot-line. Fortunately, Pixar regrouped and got their crap together. But that didn't stop them from releasing Cars 2.

Next up is Toy Story 4. Not exactly sure that was a smart move given how nicely things got wrapped up in the last one, but I'm trying to keep an open mind.

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Bullet Sunday 482: Aloha Bye

Posted on Sunday, October 7th, 2018

Dave!Home again and all is well... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Homeward. And, just like that, Hawaii is over for me. I would have liked to have stayed another couple days to hang out with my friends and relax but, alas, I've got a cat back home that is undoubtedly really, really anxious to get out of the hospital. I did get bumped to First Class, which is kinda like a vacation. A vacation with a bowl of warm nuts...

Aloha Bye

Aloha Bye

The last time I came to Hawaii for fun was when I managed to tack a few days on the back-side of a work trip in 2011. The four times since then were all work all the time. And while I wouldn't have missed this wedding in Oahu for anything, coming to photograph an event is still work!

   
• Salmon. I have been this close to flying Alaska Airlines' Salmon-Thirty-Salmon too many times to count. But I'm always a gate or two away. Like today...

Aloha Bye

It's not every day you get to fly in a plane painted to look like a big fish... and, alas, today is not my day either.

   
• Simon. On my trip to Honolulu on Friday I saw the available movies I hadn't seen (Tomb Raider, yawn... Won't You Be My Neighbor, awesome... and Blockers, surprisingly watchable) and so on my trip back I watched movies I enjoyed that I've already seen... Deadpool 2 and The Disaster Artist... and also Love, Simon...

This movie is so amazingly good (despite a rough start to the third act) and has an ending that's ten tons of wonderful. I've seen it three times now, and one thing continues to stand out... the casting on this film is phenomenal. Not just the main characters, but supporting roles as well. In particular, Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner as Simon's parents. I knew Garner could pull off the emotional weight... but Josh Duhamel?!? And yet...

And that clip has been edited down from the original scene.

The first coming-of-age-love-story with a gay lead character from a major studio was going to be a landmark film regardless of how good it was. Or how terrible. The fact that Love, Simon turned out to be something great is just icing on the cake. One can only hope that more films like this entering mainstream culture becomes a step towards more acceptance and less bullying in our schools. Because isn't high school hard enough?

   
• Haerts. In addition to being one of the sweetest, most charming, funny, genuine films in recent memory, Love, Simon has a great soundtrack. It was especially awesome that Wings by Haerts got a snippet into the movie. It's such an amazing song...

And now I'm addicted to it all over again.

   
• Photography. It didn't actually rain on the wedding yesterday, which was nice. A lot easier to shoot photos when you're not soaking wet. The problem was my poor back, which was in spasm the entire day. I was eating muscle relaxers like candy in an attempt to keep being able to move. The good news is that the photos turned out pretty good. Not so much because of my talent as a photographer, but because the bride and groom are phenomenally good-looking... and patient.

And... despite my not being a professional photographer (and especially not a wedding photographer), this was my sixth wedding shoot. No idea how this keeps happening to me.

   
• Home. Jenny meowed when I walked through the door. Meowed after me when I rolled my bag in. Meowed after me when I went to the bathroom. Meowed after me when when I went upstairs. Meowed after me when got undressed. Meowed after me when I got in bed. She did not stop. "Sheesh. I am sorry I had to leave you all alone! Are you going to calm down if I can bring your brother home tomorrow?!?"

Jenny Cuddler

Such a sweetheart. I hope that Jake and Jenny's reunion goes well.

   
And... I turn into a pumpkin at midnight, so... much aloha.

   

Sequel Sequels

Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2018

Dave!Now that we're finally getting a sequel to Unbreakable (and Split) with Glass, I got to thinking about other movies I've long wanted a sequel to.

MOVIES THAT NEED A SEQUEL...

<insert marvel studios film here>. No kidding. The films I most want sequels to are every film Marvel Studios has ever made. I keep hoping against hope that they will up the number of productions they've got going and, now that the various X-Men franchises are headed back to Marvel, that's a possibility.

Atomic Blonde. Charlize Theron's brutal take on a cold war spy drama is one of the best films in that genre to ever hit the silver screen. The story, the look, the soundtrack, the fight scenes... every frame of this film was gold and I'm dying to see more.

Central Intelligence. Nobody was more surprised than me that this Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Kevin Heart spy vehicle was any good... but it really was! I'd like to see where the characters end up next, assuming there's an interesting enough way to bring them back together... of which I'm skeptical.

The Heat. The best Melissa McCarthy movies are those that reign her in to a good degree, and this was one of those films. This was also a great Sandra Bullock vehicle, which is always a roll of the dice. There's plenty more story here to tell.

Kill Bill. I don't know if this is possible given how Uma Thurman came forward to speak out against her experience making the films, but boy does the idea have such great possibilities that were set up in the original two.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Sigh. This was such a beautifully-realized adaptation of the Aubrey-Maturin books that I can't understand why it wasn't a massive box office success. Regardless, it still made enough money that my hopes for a sequel are still burning.

The Legend of Tarzan. Easily the most faithful adaptation of the amazing Edgar Rice Burroughs books, I was thrilled to see what happens when they actually tried to make a good Tarzan film. I'd like to see another one.

The LEGO Batman Movie. Just like the LEGO video games, they completely knocked this one out of the park. Better than Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, Suicide Squad, and (heaven help us) Justice League.

The Losers. A very good comic adaptation that was really smart in how it was adapted, I would have thought a sequel would have been greenlit immediately. Alas... the box office was less than stellar.

MacGruber. I don't care what anybody says. This was a funny movie and I'd love to get a sequel.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the chemistry of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie can overcome any failings that might arise from trying to recapture what made the first movie so good.

Ocean's 8. As entertaining as the Ocean's Eleven trilogy ever was. One would hope that they'd work hard to come up with as interesting a caper as the first one, because that's what killed Ocean's Twelve.

Paul. A hilarious film that was so brilliantly realized that I can't fathom how it didn't manage to catch enormous buzz and become a box office juggernaut. It could so easily get a great sequel... if somebody would finance it.

Serenity. Rumor has it that we may get a Netflix show (or something) to continue on the story. Lord, I hope so. There's some good things happening with sci-fi right now, but you won't find me complaining that there's too much of it.

Spy. Easily Melissa McCarthy's best film, there are literally a dozens directions this franchise could be taken.

Star Trek. Apparently there are two films in development... one by Quentin Tarantino... and one that has Kirk time-traveling back to meet his father (Chris Hemsworth!). Both are stalled for one reason or another. Whatever the reality of what's going on, I sure hope they get everything figured out. There's too many good things about the reboot to let it die.

Team America: World Police. It honestly doesn't have to be a sequel to Trey Parker and Matt Stone's brilliant puppet movie... but it needs to be something. After the brilliance of The South Park Movie, Baseketball, and Team America, you just know they have another amazing movie in them.

   

MOVIES THAT NEEDED A SEQUEL AT ONE TIME, BUT EVERYBODY IS PROBABLY TOO OLD NOW...

Beverly Hills Cop I honestly didn't think that Beverly Hills Cop III was that bad. No... it wasn't the sequel I was hoping for, but it was entertaining enough. And it had me hoping that there would be a fourth installment which would wrap things up in a much more satisfying way. Whether Eddie Murphy is too old to churn out another one is debatable... but I still hope.

Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension. So many years... decades, really... hoping against hope that Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League would see fruition but, alas, it was not to be.

Eurotrip. SCOTTY DOESN'T KNOW! SCOTTY DOESN'T KNOW!

The Fifth Element. Instead of making a sequel to The Fifth Element, Luc Besson gave us the underwhelming Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. It's depressing in entirely too many ways given that Bruce Willis is probably past the point of playing the character by now.

Hancock. This was a really good super-hero movie before really good super-hero movies were common (thanks, Marvel Studios!), so perhaps a sequel isn't necessary now... even if Will Smith was ten years younger.

Spaceballs. So much material in sci-fi that's ripe for parody.

True Lies. I understand why 9/11 was able to remove the possibility of a sequel, but what a waste. The original film was remarkable for how well it was done, and I would have loved to have seen Schwarzenegger and Curtis in one more outing. We ended up with Mr. & Mrs. Smith. which was kinda the same thing... but not really.

Undercover Blues. One of the best movies you've probably never seen, this is easily in my Top 25 Films of All Time, so naturally I was dying for another outing by Jeff & Jane Blue. And while Dennis Quaid and Kathleen Turner are probably too old for that kind of film... their daughter Janey could follow in their footsteps and end up needing help from mom and dad... just sayin'.

V.I. Warshawski. If this film had a male lead, I'm betting it would have gotten a sequel. It was smart, funny, and had a good detective story driving it. But, all we got was Kathleen Turner being frickin' awesome, and apparently that wasn't enough.

   

MOVIES THAT NEEDED A SEQUEL AT ONE TIME, BUT A PRIMARY CHARACTER US DEAD...

Galaxy Quest. I honestly don't know how this would have ever worked given the clever premise of the original wouldn't work a second time... but boy-oh-boy would I have loved to see these characters try. Alas with Alan Rickman gone, it's too late.

Sneakers. I always held out hope that we'd get a sequel... but with River Phoenix gone and Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier essentially retired... well...

   

MOVIES THAT DON'T NEED A SEQUEL, BUT I LOVE THE CHARACTERS TOO MUCH TO IGNORE...

The Long Kiss Goodnight. No idea how they would come up with a sequel that would work well when the original wrapped up so neatly, but everything here worked so dang well... and Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson had such amazing chemistry... that I'd really love for them to try.

   

MOVIES THAT NEEDED A SEQUEL BUT WE'RE GETTING SOMETHING ELSE INSTEAD...

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The American adaptation didn't suck... it was actually incredible. And Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig were exceptional in it. I was fully expecting that it would get an immediate sequel. And... apparently it is... but not with Mara and Craig? Blergh.

   

MOVIES THAT NEEDED A SEQUEL IF THE ORIGINAL HAD BEEN WORTH A SHIT...

John Carter. One of my favorite series of books ever, the John Carter of Mars novels are ripe for a good cinematic adaptation. Unfortunately what we got was a steaming pile of shit that was barely faithful to the books and essentially destroyed what could have been an awesome series. Such a huge disappointment.

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