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Posted on December 28th, 2018

Dave!And it's time once again for my annual wrap-up of movies that came out this year.

Or, more accurately, a "wrap-up of movies I saw that came out this year." As always, there's a bunch of movies I never saw that would have probably ended up on my list (we'll get to that later). And here we go...

THE TWELVE BEST...
These are my favorite movies from this year that I actually saw.

Favorite Movies 2018

#1 Black Panther
My two favorite Marvel Comics characters are Doctor Strange and Black Panther. Both got terrific movie adaptations. But Black Panther is next-level greatness that went beyond my every expectation. You can read all about my unabashed love for the movie here, but suffice to say that making T'Challa into the Marvel James Bond and crafting a beautifully-realized African world for him to inhabit makes Black Panther not just a great comic book film... but a great film period.

#2 Avengers: Infinity War
When I first saw Infinity War it was so much... everything... that I left the theater in a daze. There's just too much to take in, and made for a less than perfect experience. But then I watched it on home video... again and again and again... and came to appreciate just how spectacular a job that The Russo Brothers did given all they had to achieve. Now I absolutely love the film, and can't wait for the conclusion in 2019. My original review is here.

#3 Ant Man & The Wasp
The action sequences and humor have been ramped up to eleven, but it's the performances by Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly that make the sequel work so well. And it was a pleasant surprise that they had Ghost as one of the villains, because her power-set is completely different (breaking the "villain has the same powers as the hero" trend that's getting so boring). The whole deus-ex-machina lameness of giving Michelle Pfeiffer magical quantum powers at the end kept the movie from being flawless... but it was darn close.

#4 Deadpool 2
The first Deadpool was a life-affirming love-letter to the character and proof that not all of Fox's X-Men-related movies have to suck ass. I liked the sequel even more. Partly because they just amped up everything that made the first film work... but mostly because they introduced Cable and Domino in a way that had you praying for an X-Force movie. Hilarious, bloody fun.

#5 Love, Simon
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? A big shout out to Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel who made for the best movie parents ever.

#6 Mission: Impossible — Fallout
It's a mystery how the Mission: Impossible franchise keeps getting better with each new installment... but it totally does. Fallout is easily my favorite of the lot, filled with mind-boggling stunts, incredible action, and a story that is actually interesting and completely works. I can't believe that I'm dying to see a seventh installment of any movie, but here we are.

Favorite Movies 2018

#7 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I've seen plenty of animated comic book movies and TV shows. And while some of them are very good, they never seem to reach the epic level of greatness you would expect. And then Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse comes along and blows the doors off the entire concept. It's visually stunning and has a story that is brimming with heart and humor. More please.

#8 Ocean's 8
While extending the George Clooney franchise with a cast of women is not a terrible idea, it was ripe for disaster if it weren't the right cast of women. Fortunately, they got that part exactly right and everything else fell into place perfectly. Entertaining from start to finish... with a few surprises along the way... I am hopeful that the film makes enough money to get us Ocean's 9 with an even bigger caper to pull off.

#9 Crazy Rich Asians
This is an old, tired story but told in a way that was interesting and fresh. It's also lavish, lush, and beautiful to behold. Fortunately, it didn't 100% rely on making the female protagonist be a total embarrassment in front of her rich boyfriend's family (typical for these things), but merely touched on it. Surprisingly, the standout for me was not Constance Wu (whom I love in Fresh Off the Boat and was excellent as always), but Awkwafina in yet another scene-stealing role (her first being in Ocean's 8 above). Talk about a breath of fresh air. I seriously hope somebody is developing a project around her.

#10 The Incredibles 2
I've long felt that The Incredibles was one of the best super-hero movies ever made... and easily the best interpretation of The Fantastic Four to hit the screen. The sequel was fantastic adventure and had more of what made the first one so good... but it also adds layers of complication that kept it from being as good as it could have been. Still, Pixar magic at its finest and a movie I really enjoyed.

#11 Isle of Dogs
It's Wes Anderson, so of course I liked it. And while I appreciate the viewpoint that the entire film is cultural appropriation (stealing from Japanese culture for entertainment value) I don't know that I agree with that. The film very much feels like Anderson just wanted his story to be set in Japan. I am, however, going on record to blast him for cultural insensitivity. I hate hate hated the fact that we had to have the "Tracy Walker" character be yet another white savior in film. Seriously, what the fuck? Why does there always have to be a white hero? The film is set in JAPAN, for heaven's sake. But who leads the fight against injustice?

Favorite Movies 2018

Last year I dropped Hidden Figures from my Top Twelve because the story of Black women making the moon landings possible was hijacked by Kevin Costner "defeating racism." This kind of crap categorically stupid, and I am sick to death of it. LET. PEOPLE. OF. COLOR. BE. THE. HEROES. OF. THEIR. OWN. DAMN. STORIES! When it came to Isle of Dogs I very nearly dropped it for the same reason. But ultimately I felt it wasn't quite the outrageous blunder that assaulted me when I saw it in the theater. Upon tonight's repeat viewing, this is much more a movie about Akira searching for his lost canine than Tracy's revolution. On top of that, the film is a wonderful, jaw-dropping spectacle to behold (be sure to watch the cast interviews in the Special Features). And yet... holy shit. Enough with this white savior bullshit.

#12 Solo: A Star Wars Story
This is going to be a controversial pick. Partly because it was not a great film... but mostly because it was completely unnecessary. And told a story we honestly didn't need to see. But then again... it did have some good action sequences and a better story than we've seen in any of the shitty prequels (and probably Force Awakens or Last Jedi). Plus? Emilia Clarke and Donald Glover, who were perfect. And I loved L3-37 and Chewie in it.

   
HONORABLE MENTIONS...

  • BlacKkKlansmen. While I'm not fawning all over the film like so many critics did (I found it a bit boring in spots) I did enjoy it quite a lot. Not only that, but it was based on a true story I had never heard of before. Probably deserves to be #12 on my list, but I had such higher expectations for BlacKkKlansmen than I did Solo.
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor. A terrific love letter to Mr. Rogers from people who knew and worked with him. With a lesser subject, this could have been a cheesy, even laughable documentary... but Fred Rogers brought it all together beautifully.
  • Christopher Robin. The story was only so-so, but the loving care put into animating Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, and friends was sublimely perfect. They look like stuffed animals come to life and their every frame on-screen is magical.
  • Revenge. A brutal and stylish revenge thriller that was too good to be true.
  • The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society. While historical romance movies are not my thing, I found this post-World-War-II flick to have a really good story.
  • The Endless. An utterly bizarre movie that ends up smarter than you'd think. And yet... slow and plodding to the point of tedium, which kept it from greatness. Even so... I'm anxious to see where Benson and Moorhead take their "shared universe of movies" next.
  • Ideal Home. Never even heard of this movie before it popped up on HBO. When a celebrity chef's grandson-he-didn't-know-he-had shows up on his doorstep, he and his longtime boyfriend have some lifestyle adjustments to make.

   
HAVEN'T SEEN YET, MIGHT HAVE MADE MY LIST...

  • Aquaman
  • Ben is Back
  • Boy Erased
  • Bumblebee
  • The Cakemaker
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me
  • The Favourite
  • Free Solo
  • First Man
  • Green Book
  • Leave No Trace
  • Mary Poppins
  • A Quiet Place
  • Sorry to Bother You
  • Welcome to Marwen
  • Widows

   
THE WORST...

  • The Predator. Shane Black, the guy responsible for some of my favorite films, wasn't content with just shitting the bed for the latest flick in the Predator franchise... he shit the bed then filled a pumper truck from twenty porta-potties and deluged the bed with more shit than you ever thought possible. Gut-wrenchingly awful and lacking any semblance of spark that Black's dialogue is famous for, I was furious that I wasted my time and money on this dreck. By the time you get to the part where a kid has decoded an alien language just because he's autistic... well...
  • A Wrinkle in Time. Never read the book. But with the magical cast they rounded up for the movie, I was totally on board! Then I saw it. What a steaming turd of a movie. An incoherent mess that went for style over substance... or any kind of story.
  • The Happytime Murders. A puppet film with nasty, gross-out humor and Melissa McCarthy? Count me in! I was expecting another Team America: World Police, but that movie had some smarts behind it. This one just went for lowbrow disgust and never ended up rising much above that. It wasn't 100% terrible, but it could have been so much more.
  • Pacific Rim Uprising. I honestly didn't think it could be worse than the original film (which took an awesome concept and destroyed it with a nonsensical story and bad acting)... but here we are. I can't even say that it was "so bad it's good" because it was just heinously bad.
  • The Cloverfield Paradox. Take a shitty sci-fi snoozer... shoe-horn in a Cloverfield tie-in... wrap it up in an awful ending... and there you have it! One of the worst movies of 2018.
  • The Girl In The Spider's Web. I was a mega-huge fan of David Fincher's take on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is to say I was gutted when plans for a sequel failed. Years later we get a soft-reboot where Lisbeth Salander (one of the best female characters ever) has been completely changed in all the worst ways. Could not have been more disappointed.
  • The Darkest Minds. Here's an idea! Let's cash in on the super-hero movie craze and the Young Adult genre craze by mashing them together into one of the shittiest movies ever made!
  • Mute. Paul Rudd? Justin Theroux? Alexander Skarsgård? Duncan Jones?!? TAKE MY MONEY! And now that I've seen it? GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK!
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Bullet Sunday 492

Posted on December 16th, 2018

Dave!The weather outside may be frightful, but there's warmth to be had... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Stranger Strange! It was announced earlier this week that Scott Derrickson will be returning for the sequel to Doctor Strange, which is fantastic news considering how amazing the first one turned out...

XXX

There are dozens of different directions that a new story might take. Baron Mordo (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) is almost certain to be the villain. Or one of the villains anyway. Since magic-based characters in the MCU are scarce, they wouldn't necessarily have to go off-earth in order to come up with something wildly different, but some kind of inter-dimensional aspect to the plot is probably a safe bet. But what else? Will we get to see Mephisto? Clea? Umar? Nightmare?

   
• Julia Sans Julie! Did you know that somebody edited out all the horrible Julie Powell parts from Julie and Julia? Well they did! And it's so much better...

Makes me wish that they would have just made a Julia Child movie from the start. Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci were magic, and Julia's story is a fascinating one. Thanks to Run Jen Run for the tip!

   
• Musical Guest! Talk about lighting in a bottle. Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus (along with Sean Ono Lennon) performed the classic John Lemmon track Happy Xmas (War Is Over) on Saturday Night Live last night...

I've been a big Miley fan since I first saw her on Hannah Montana. She has an incredible voice... in and out of the studio... and, crazy antics aside, she knows how to sing. She's especially great at interpreting other people's music (as the above video shows). One of my favorites remains her beautiful take of the Crowded House song Don't Dream It's Over with Ariana Grande...

Can't wait to see what she's got lined up next.

   
• Echo! "Alexa, what song is this?"

"This is Good Time featuring Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson from the album Good Time by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson."

"HOLY SHIT, ALEXA! ENOUGH WITH GOOD TIME FEATURING OWL CITY AND CARLY RAE JEPSON!"

"Now playing Good Time featuring Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson from the album Good Time by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson."

"Well played, Alexa. Well played."

   
• Don't Look Here, Look There! It's always the people with fucked up shit in their closet that goes after the LGBTQ community. Always. You can set your clocks by it. Whenever I see somebody "railing against the gays" I just set an egg-timer until the news drops about them going to prison for something heinous. Then a Facebook friend shared this...

There's a reason that there are people who are virulently attacking people who have nothing to do with them. Set your egg timers.

   
Stay warm there, buckaroos.

   

Movie Merrython

Posted on December 12th, 2018

Dave!I've taken a break from Hallmark Christmas movies to watch other Christmas films I like. Though, technically, most of them aren't "Christmas films" they just take place around the holiday.

But they totally count!

Here's a list of the movies I'm making my way through...

  • Die Hard (1988) with Bruce Willis.
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) with Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson.
  • Lethal Weapon (1987) with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.
  • Ghostbusters (1984) with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis.
  • Iron Man 3 (2013) with Robert Downey Jr.
  • About a Boy (2002) with Hugh Grant and Toni Collette.
  • Scrooged (1988) with Bill Murray.
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) with Robert Downey Jr.
  • The Last Boy Scout (1991) with Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans.
  • Elf (2003) with Will Ferrell.
  • The Nice Guys (2016) with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling.
  • The Thin Man (1934) with William Powell and Myrna Loy.
  • Millions (2004) by Danny Boyle.
  • Trading Places (1983) with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd.
  • Gremlins (1984) with Phoebe Cates.
  • Love Actually (2003) with everybody.

Over the years I've removed movies like Batman Returns that haven't held up well enough for me to want to bother. But the rest of them? Every year. Especially movies like The Long Kiss Goodnight which totally hold up.

Ho Ho Ho.

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Bullet Sunday 491

Posted on December 9th, 2018

Dave!I may have been to Maine and back this week, but that just means I'm locked and loaded... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Endings! Obviously the news of the week is that the Avengers 4 trailer finally dropped. It's everything it needed to be, with plenty to unpack. If you don't want to hear about it, best skip to the next bullet...

Okay, first of all, the name... Endgame is lame as shit. For months we've been told that the name was being kept secret because it revealed the plot and gave too much away. But does it really? No. Not even a little bit. LAME!

It's not much of a leap to figure that Ant-Man is going to be the key here. The Quantum Realm and its time-bending properties is an obvious way to undo what was done and bring back all those dusted characters so they can continue to print money for Marvel Studios (and Disney). I also wouldn't be surprised to find that Hawkeye (who looks like he's in his Ronin persona in the trailer) will have a major arc. Odds are his entire family was dusted and that's going to be the push to answer the question: "Why in the hell is he an Avenger?" No sign of Captain Marvel, but we know she's going to be kicking around...

Avengers 4 Sneak Peek

April seems a long, long ways away...

   
• Pet Shop Christmas! This week I received an email from The Pet Shop Boys wishing a Merry Christmas to their fans. Which is nice, I guess, but it's the way they did it that was so cool...

Pet Shop Boys Merry Christmas

Now, if you're a fan, you'll immediately "get it." But if you're not... does this help?

XXX

Seriously, how cool is that?

   
• MIB4! This week we finally learned the title of the fourth Men in Black movie... Men in Black International. It stars Chris Hemsworth as Agent H and Tessa Thompson as Agent M...

Men in Black 4

The spinoff film will not have Tommy Lee Jones (Agent K) or Will Smith (Agent J) in it, but it will have Emma Thompson reprising her role as Agent O.

   
• Outlook! As I prepare my home for winter, I ran across something interesting...

XXX

Apparently my region of the country will be "much above average" when it comes to temperature this winter. I'm not quite sure what to think about that, because the nighttime temperatures seem as though they're the same as they've been for years now (which is not as cold as it was a decade ago, I can tell you that). I took a look at weather averages for the past couple years and it reads similar to what's been recorded lately. And while we haven't had any snow yet, I'm guessing it will be on its way any day now? While I'm happy at the idea of saving on heating costs, we really need good snow pack in the mountains or else we'll end up in drought conditions in the Summer. That's something we absolutely do not want.

   
• NHL! Good news, everybody! Something I've been waiting for... for a very long time, actually... is Major League Hockey coming to Seattle! I became a hockey fan when I got into The Milwaukee Admirals while working in the Mid-West. From there it was a short hop to the Chicago Blackhawks, which has been my team ever since...

Spy Movie Poster

I've been to a couple local games here at home, but love the idea of escaping to an NHL game from time to time. Earlier this week they finally gave Seattle an expansion team, which will debut in 2021. But what will they be called? It's a big mystery. I was greatly amused to find that Bovada is running Vegas odds on it...

Bovada Book on Seattle NHL

Oh dear Lord. The odds favorite is the Totems?!? Now, I get it... that's the historic name for the team. It's a name which has emotional appeal to those who have been fighting to get a team here for a very long time. BUT COME ON! Are we really going to go down the cultural appropriation route again? My team, the Blackhawks, was named in honor of Black Hawk, a real-life Illinois historical figure. The team has kinda gotten a pass on this because it's not an offensive stereotype (like "Redskins") but it is still mired in controversy...

In 2010, for instance, Joe Podlasek stated that, "The stance is very clear. We want the Chicago Blackhawks logo to change. For us, that's one of our grandfathers. Would you do that with your grandfather's picture? Take it and throw it on a rug? Walk on it and dance on it?" John Blackhawk, Chairman of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, has suggested that the change in position for the American Indian Center may be connected to contributions the Blackhawks organization has recently begun making to the center: "We all do contributions, but we don't do it for the sake of wanting to be forgiven for something we've done that's offensive."
Wikipedia

So can we please just not this time? Personally I'm really liking the Sockeyes. There's a lot of logo potential there, and it's a fish that has cultural significance to Seattle both past and presence. The Emeralds isn't bad, but what do you do with it for a logo? And tying the name to The Wizard of Oz is kinda silly. Rainiers is already tied to a crappy beer. Kraken might be fine, but it's too abstract since it's mythological and all. Renegades, Cougars, and Eagles are boring and done to death. Sea Lions, Seals, and Whales just sound silly. Evergreens would give us a frickin' TREE as a logo? I dunno. Might work in the right hands? Firebirds isn't bad, but it's within spitting distance of Totems for me.

So... can we just be the Sockeyes and be done with it? Please?

   
• So Long, Fuckers! I finally managed to transfer everything away from my previous web hosting company, Media Temple. After being a loyal customer for over a decade and putting up with their broken promises and bullshit, the last straw was the horrific way I was treated when I tried to get an issue resolved. No help, shitty service, and a bill for $38 that they wouldn't reverse. Seriously, what a bunch of assholes. If you're looking for a place to host your stuff, keep looking.

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

   

Bullet Sunday 490

Posted on December 2nd, 2018

Dave!December is here and you shopping days are numbered. But don't despair... because the greatest gift of all is here! Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Cap! I didn't think it was possible for me to want to see Captain Marvel more than I already did... but then this poster was released...

XXX

UPDATE: And then the second trailer was released...

And holy crap am I dying to see it now!

   
• SO CUTE! And now I want kittens! Again!

But... Jake and Jenny are plenty of cats in my house, so I'll just have to keep watching YouTube videos like this.

   
• A Catch! Speaking of cats and YouTube... my current obsession is watching cats catching fish videos...


Amazing. I don't know why I always thought that fish were an unnatural food for cats. Something that we humans got them addicted to. Maybe because most cats don't like water? But now that I've seen it? Makes perfect sense.

   
• Becoming! I purchased the audiobook of former First Lady Michelle Obama's Becoming because I wanted the experience of having her read it to me. I'm half-way through and it does not disappoint...

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Of course Obama-haters were going to crap all over her no matter what she wrote... and people hoping for dirt will be better-served elsewhere... but I enjoyed going behind the scenes of her life from her own perspective. Mrs. Obama's ability to advocate for hope is inspiring, and I found her words was a welcome distraction.

   
• IN THE NEWS! "REPUBLICAN SENATORS WHO TRIED TO KILL YEMEN WAR RESOLUTION WERE PAID BY SAUDI LOBBYISTS" — We truly do have the best government money can buy. This is fucking disgraceful. For the life of me, I don't understand why Americans aren't rioting in the streets over this bullshit.

   
• A Man Called Ove! I've seen this remarkable Swedish film four times now. I think I love it more with each viewing...

I honestly don't know how to feel about Tom Hanks doing an American remake. Usually Americanizing a foreign film doesn't bode well, but... Tom Hanks. I want so badly for it to be good. If, for no other reason, that Americans who don't like watching films with subtitles will get to see this terrific story.

   
And that's the end of that. Fun times await me, as I'm flying out tonight.

   

Bullet Sunday 489

Posted on November 25th, 2018

Dave!Do you enjoy the ramblings of somebody with frozen feet? Then you're in for a treat... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Pooh! I was anxious to see the new Disney movie Christopher Robin, but it was never showing on any flight I was on, so I had to buy it from iTunes when it was released. It's a good (not great) film that I enjoyed quite a lot. Mostly because the CGI version of the animals are amazing. Jaw-dropping amazing. The way they are rendered and the way they move is remarkable. You can believe these stuffed animals are alive...

Christopher Robin Screencap

Christopher Robin Screencap

Christopher Robin Screencap

Christopher Robin Screencap

Christopher Robin Screencap

And here's the trailer...

I adore the wit and wisdom of Winnie the Pooh. All the Winnie the Pooh. I love the original A.A. Milne books, the Disney movies and book adaptations, and the Benjamin Hoff Tao of Pooh and Te of Piglet books too. If you are a Winnie the Pooh fan (and why wouldn't you be?) the movie is worth a look. Disney movie magic!

   
• Care! Hallmark has been airing some wonderful commercials for their #CareEnough campaign...


This last one reminded me of one of my all-time favorite ads...

Always amazed that people can create commercials I want to stop and watch!

   
• Proposal! This was my favorite thing on the internet this past week...

So sweet. And that reminded me of this...

The effort that must go into planning these things is mind-boggling.

   
• Winter is NEVER Coming!

"George R.R. Martin will be on Colbert to promote his new book..."

"WINDS OF WINTER IS FINISHED?!??"

"Of course not. He wasted his time on yet another Westeros history book. He still has no idea when Winds of Winter will be completed."

In all honesty, I don't think Martin will ever finish A Song of Ice and Fire. I don't think he gives a shit (regardless of how much he pretends to care). He's got the HBO money coming in. He's got a Nightflyers series coming up. He's got the Game of Thrones prequels coming up. He's got millions of dollars. And he has said repeatedly that writing the Song of Ice and Fire books is hard work, so why would he bother? The HBO series will wrap things up so he doesn't have to, and he can keep getting distracted with writing "easy books" that still make him tons of money. What incentive is there to finish up Westeros? It's all too easy to procrastinate until you die and leave your notes to another author so THEY can deal with it.

All that being said... how excited am I for April to get here so we can see the final season of Game of Thrones?

   
• Unpossible! Mission Impossible: Fallout (AKA MI6) is easily the best of the entire series. Everybody is brilliant in it, and Henry Cavill is exceptionally good. Which makes me all the happier that Paramount told Warner Bros. to go fuck themselves when they wanted Cavill to shave his mustache for reshoots as Superman on the abysmally shitty Justice League movie. Otherwise Cavill's continuity would be jeopardized and he may have had some of his part cut in a far, far better film...

Tom Cruise does the majority of his own stunts. And the dedication he has in delivering some really scary and dangerous scenes really pay off in Fallout. If you haven't seen it and like a good action flick, this is the movie for you.

   
• No NOAA! Now that winter is here, I wanted to see if I could re-code the program which controls the heat tapes on my roof. Right now they turn on when it's 33° or less. Which is better than having them on all the time, but also not ideal because they turn on whether there's snow on my roof or not. What I want to do is capture NOAA data to see if it's snowing and then turn on the heat tapes. If we have heavy snowfall with a lot of accumulation, then I'll switch to the old temperature-based program until it's melted.

NOAA Weather Data

Problem is... the local NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) station has closed. So now I'm having to pull data from 6 miles away. Which would be fine if I lived on a flat plain, but I'm in a valley. The weather 6 miles away will be similar, but different. And so... better than nothing, but now I don't know if trying to adapt for snow is going to be worth it since the data may not apply to me. Time to start my own weather station, I guess.

   
And there's your bullets this fine Sunday.

   

Open The Pod Bay Doors, HAL

Posted on November 12th, 2018

Dave!Stan Lee, co-creator of a huge chunk of the Marvel Comics Universe... and Douglas Rain, the iconic voice of HAL 9000 (the onboard computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey), have died.

This was already a tough day for me.

But now?

When it comes to being absolutely terrified by a movie, there is no film that compares to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not for me, anyway. And it all comes down to that one riveting exchange where HAL refuses to let Dave back on the ship. Until I saw this scene while watching the movie on VHS videotape back in the early 80's, I had always thought of computers and robots as fantastical, wonderful inventions here to make our lives better. Then here comes HAL 9000, whose psychopathic method of self-preservation dictates that he straight-up murder the crew.

This could have been a comical situation. Especially given the dialogue HAL is speaking. But the way Douglas Rain delivered HAL's lines in such a cold, detached manor was horrifying...

"Without your space helmet, Dave, you're going to find that rather difficult." — I mean, holy shit!

In the sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, we find out that it wasn't HAL's fault that he went crazy. Humans were ultimately responsible... but that movie came out three years later, so it wasn't much consolation to me watching in 1981!

For years I had HAL as the ringtone on my iPhone. One of the many benefits to being named "Dave." I doubt that would have ever happened if not for the vocal talents of Douglas Rain.

   
And then there's Stan Lee...

J. Scott Campbell draws Stan Lee
Amazing Art by J. Scott Campbell

When I first started reading comics, I was mostly a DC Comics guy. That's where Batman was, and he was hands-down my favorite comic book character. But eventually (as my allowance increased) I was expanding into Marvel Comics more and more. My "gateway drug," as it were, was Doctor Strange. His surreal adventures were unlike anything happening at DC, and it was a quick hop from there to my reading other Marvel titles like The Avengers, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and whatever other team books I could afford (team books, you see, had more heroes in them, so it felt like more bang for my buck than solo titles).

Stan Lee co-created all of them.

And many, many more.

But his prolific comic writing output was almost incidental compared to his being the "face" of Marvel Comics. His rampant enthusiasm for their books in letter columns and his Stan's Soapbox column were the stuff of legend. He made you want to read comics.

As if that wasn't enough? He was also a wonderful man. Here's one of his most famous Stan's Soapbox columns...

Stan's Soapbox

Even if you're not a comic book fan, odds are you've seen Stan in one of his many Marvel Studios Movie cameos...

Or on one of his many, many television appearances...


The guy was legendary, and will be missed by a great many people. Thank you, Stan Lee.

Excelsior, True Believer!

'Nuff said.

   

Friday Night at the Movies

Posted on October 26th, 2018

Dave!This Friday blows.

I'm not even supposed to be here today.

But since I am here... I've decided to watch the movies I pre-ordered when I coud afford to be buying movies. The first was The Spy Who Dumped Me which I don't even remember buying. I don't even know why I would buy it. I do know why I would watch it, however. I would watch anything with Mila Kunis in it...

The Spy Who Dumped Me Poster

It was better than I thought it would be, but still a movie to rent, not a movie to buy. Even though it has some good jokes in it.

The other movie appearing in my iTunes? The Incredibles 2...

Incredibles 2 Poster

I saw this in theaters because I loved the first one so much. I still consider the original to be the best representation of The Fantastic 4 to ever hit the silver screen... and one of the best super-hero movies ever made. The sequel? I don't know if I would go that far, but it was still a highly entertaining film. And beautifully-designed.

Which is why I bought it. I wanted to be able to step through it frame by frame and just marvel at how amazing everything looks. Also... I love how they took one of my favorite games, Portal, and made it into a super-hero called Voyd. Up until now, we've only gotten to see Doctor Strange and Wong create "portals" in the movies.

And now I want to watch Avengers: Infinity War for the sixth time.

Or play some Portal.

Or maybe... just maybe... both!

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Bullet Sunday 484

Posted on October 21st, 2018

Dave!Another weekend of winterizing, plus cleaning out my garage... but there's still a warm spot in my heart... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• BOSTON!!! Congratulations to my beloved Boston Red Sox as they head to The World Series!

Dave Loves the Red Sox!

And then there's this, which is pretty funny...

SUCK IT, YANKEES! BWAH HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!

   
• Sears. Five years ago, my local Sears store closed. As I mentioned at the time, Sears was a huge chunk of my childhood, as that's where my first PC was purchased (an Atari 800) and the games and software that I grew up with (viva la Infocom!) all came from there...

Atari 800 Illustration
   
I drew this Atari 800 for the cover of Kevin Savetz's terrific book, Terrible Nerd!

So hearing that Sears is now in bankruptcy is met with a note of sadness for me. After all these decades, my local store is still ingrained in my memory. I remember everything about it. I remember exactly where the computer aisle was located. I remember what the display looked like. I remember the sound that the glass door made when it was unlocked to retrieve a box of software. I remember how excited I was when my family made a trip to Sears where I would immediately run to the computers to see what was new. That's how it was all done back in the 80's. The public internet didn't exist... certainly not like it is now. Computer magazines were always outdated the minute they were printed. There was pre-release information here and there, but I never really knew what was real until I saw it at Sears.

And now it's likely the entire chain will be gone forever. It's a tough hit to take, even though the only reason I'd ever shop there (if I even knew where to find one) was maybe for tools. Or appliances. Godspeed, Sears, you will always be in my heart.

   
• Owls. I've watched this too many times this past week...

Owls are such awesome creatures.

   
• Security! "Social Security, let’s lay it to rest once in for all... Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Social Security is totally funded by the payroll tax levied on employer and employee. If you reduce the outgo of Social Security, that money would not go into the general fund to reduce the deficit. It would go into the Social Security trust fund. So Social Security has nothing to do with balancing the budget or erasing or lowering the deficit." — President Ronald Reagan, 1984.

President Ronald Reagan

Once more for the dumbfucks in the back... YOU FUCKING PAID FOR YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE! IT'S TAKEN OUT OF YOUR FUCKING PAYCHECK! So when gaping assholes like Mitch McConnell and other Republican crooks start talking about cutting these programs to cover tax cuts for the rich and out-of-control government spending, THEY ARE STEALING FROM YOU. I honest-to-God do not understand why anybody in their right mind continues to support these pieces of shit when they are openly committed to the destruction of the working middle class. They are for themselves (like all politicians) and their wealthy puppet-masters. And nobody else. So unless you are the 1%, voting for these turds is only cutting your own throat.

   
• Of Note. We live in hypocritical times...

And, just in case there was any doubt whatsoever that Pat Robertson is a steaming pile of shit... here you go...

Excusing evil for lots of money in weapons sales, just like Jesus taught us!

And had it been a Christian journalist... a journalist from TBN... who was hacked apart with a bone saw? He would be calling for President Clownface VonFuckstick to nuke Saudi Arabia. This fucker cannot die fast enough. Not that I am unaware that there are dozens of assholes waiting to take his place, but still...

   
• Millennium.I liked the original Swedish movie trilogy based on the famous "Millennium Trilogy" of book... I *loved* the US adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was about as flawless as movies get. Daniel Craig was great... Rooney Mara was unbelievably great... she was Lisbeth Salander. Which is why I was really sad to learn that they would not be reprising their roles for the upcoming The Girl in the Spider's Web. Instead we're getting Claire Foy, which is not a terrible choice... but it's not Rooney Mara...

Fingers crossed. Lisbeth Salander is too good a character to be wasted.

   
And that's the end of bullets on this fine Sunday morning!

   

Sequel Sequels

Posted on 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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