July 21, 2014

Purging

Movies...
  • The Purge - I'd heard that this movie was an interesting turn on a typical horror/torture movie. It wasn't. It was awful and boring and predictable and lazy. It's a home invasion movie that only has drama because of a series of stupid decisions by the protagonists. Stay away from this one.
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes -Easily that finest film of the week - which could be very faint praise since the rest of the films were such crap. This is one to see on the big screen because the special effects are outstanding, creating more believable digital characters than we've ever seen before. Every ape is well on the happy side of the uncanny valley, showing very human emotion and communicating with each other marvelously. This is a film where the apes are clearly the main characters. The humans are the drivers of the film, but this isn't a film about the humans. This is a movie about how ape society continues to mature - often in negative ways, seeing the peace and harmony disappear as ephemerally as it sadly does in human society. Very enjoyable...not quite heart-wrenching, but certainly worth a watch. I would very much suggest seeing Rise of the Planet of the Apes first, though. This is a strong sequel (not a soft sequel like the next film).
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me -Moderately interesting but not quite successful comedy showing a man's lack of maturation through two marriages, raising a child, his ex-wife dying. The part is played by the same actor throughout with no aging makeup at all, as though he wasn't maturing in the least. I guess that was supposed to be symbolic. It didn't work well. enough that I can recommend it.
  • Drinking Buddies - Plot summary - two friends drink and flirt, but they're in separate relationships that aren't exactly movie-style true love...one relationship survives, the other doesn't...nothing comes from the flirting. I actually liked it more once I saw in the extras that the film was made without a script, that the lead actors (Anna Kendrick, Olivia Wilde, a couple of guys who were pretty much window dressing as far as I was concerned) had a plot outline but not a full script throughout the film. That explained the lack of snappy lines and witty comebacks and significant plot movement. It's not bad, but there's not much happening here.
  • Kick-Ass 2 - This is an atrocious, offensive, hyper-violent film. The first graphic novel was interesting in its exploration of costumed heroes in a non-super-hero world. The first movie lost some of that by ignoring many of the rules that it set in place and just turning the non-super heroes far more super-powered. The second comic, then, took the story into a far darker, sicker, more disgusting place, and the second film follows right along.

    Don't watch this film. There's no happiness, nothing joyful or even remotely pleasant even. Yuck. It's not even stylish enough to merit a watch.
Comics...
  • Daredevil (by Mark Waid) vol 4 & 5 - I begin to wonder if Daredevil hasn't been written into a corner. His identity is semi-public (a little more, a little less depending on the writer's needs of the moment). His love life is one big disaster. His professional life as an attorney is all but pointless since he's kind of a vigilante. I don't necessarily see how the plot can be rehabilitated, but Marvel continues to try, having rebooted Daredevil in 2011 and not again in 2014.

    The two volumes I read of late come from the 2012-13 period in which a paralyzed Bullseye strikes out at Daredevil through - get this - people that he loves. No, really, a superhero gets attacked by going after the people he loves. In Daredevil's case, he also gets attacked by Bullseye recreating this accident that gave Matt Murdock (Daredevil) his powers and sending a near-unbeatable assassin after him. Daredevil wins, of course, and stops just short of killing Bullseye along the way.

    Enjoyable enough read, but continuing a cycle that happens every couple of years to daredevil.
  • Nemo: Heart of Ice and Nemo: Roses of Berlin by Alan Moore - Moore continues to mine the fictional-historical-literature landscape of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in these two (the first two of three) tales focusing on Captain Nemo, a title that has been passed to the daughter of the original Nemo who was a major mover in the first volume of the League. Here we see the new, female Nemo retaking an antarctic expedition that left her father nearly mad (Heart of Ice) and rescuing her daughter and son-in-law from the clutches of World War II-era Germans (Roses of Berlin). Moore again brings in brilliant references to literature - many references I am sure that I missed in addition to the numerous ones that I did manage to catch. The antarctic expedition sees Nemo facing some of the Old Ones of Lovecraftian mythos chased by American hirelings after revenge for a deathless African queen. The same African queen returns to plague Nemo in Roses as Nemo must delve into a Murnau-inspired Berlin (not quite Nazi but just a street or two to the side, lead by Hynkle instead of Hitler.

    The volume aren't essential, and they're not to the level of greatness of the first two League volumes, but they are more linear and almost easier to read because of that. Plus, O'Neill seems to absolutely revel in drawing the fantastical Berlin. Worth reading (after the first two Leagues)
  • Captain America: Castaway in Dimension Z (Book 1) - I don't get it, man. Captain America is somehow transported to another dimension where Arnim Zola has set up a factory to create and subjugate mutants. The Cap escapes but only after having a Zola screen/virus implanted into his chest and having stolen one of Zola's human children, a baby boy that Cap then raises on his own. The volume ends with Cap ripping the Zola from his chest, leaving a gaping, one-foot-square hole.

    Skip it...even Romita Jr's artwork couldn't redeem this.
  • Superior Spider-Man: Team Up - I dug the Superior Spider-Man era and haven't read to the end via collections. This shows an interesting series of team ups between Spider-Man (as inhabited by Doc Ock) and various members of the Marvel universe (the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Avengers, Daredevil, and others), all of whom react interestingly to this not-quite-Peter-Parker Spider-Man. It's fun to see the other heroes recognize that something isn't quite right but that things might be better or at least good enough. Worth a read.
Actual books...
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood - I'm relistening to this one as the start of the trilogy. I'd read the book a decade ago as part of a book club in Northside, and I enjoyed the book then. I did wonder at the time why the ending was so open-ended, so inconclusive, and now that I know it's the opener to a trilogy, I understand that better. Still a fun read of a world headed for - and already in, in fact - a biologically-brought-about apocalypse.
  • MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood - Turns out this is the third book in the Oryx & Crake trilogy. I read it second, however, and it does being directly after the actions that conclude Oryx & Crake, so I would argue that reading it next does make some sense. As I've begun the other book in the trilogy (Year of the Flood), I did wonder why Atwood seemed to have jumped back to fill in some of the backstory of many of the Gods Gardeners characters from MaddAddam, but I might suggest reading MaddAddam just after reading Oryx. Much of the book is told in flashbacks as Zeb explains his past to Toby, but the device works well. Admittedly, there isn't a whole lot of present-time action going on, but there is a lot of lead-up. This is a 'how-did-they-get-there' volume, filling in the backstories of many of the characters that we met in Oryx and in Year of the Flood. Worth a read but only as part of the trilogy. It wouldn't stand on its own.

July 20, 2014

Forty-five years ago today


That isn't a photo of the first footprint on the moon.

Sadly THE first footprint was obscured underneath a few of the next footprints as Neil Armstrong ensured that he could get back up to the lunar landing module.

That is, however, one of the first few footprints on the moon, a footprint made forty-five years ago today by Neil Armstrong and quickly followed up by Buzz Armstrong making a few of his own.

In my eyes, there hasn't been a greater accomplishment by modern mankind than our half dozen manned moon landings between 1969 and 1972.

And then we stopped.

We haven't been back.

Which is tragically sad.

Read up on Armstrong & Aldrin's short time on the moon here.

July 18, 2014

Today's random ten tunes




Today's random ten iTunes and my comments about them...
  • "Political Science" by Jeff Tweedy - Not bad. I like the original by Randy Newman better, and the recording from Wilco's Kicking Television is far better quality.
  • "Colluden's Harvest" by Deanta - Sadness in a bunch but at least from a really pretty voice.
  • "La Grange" by ZZ Top - Probably my favorite ZZ Top song ever. Love the blues walk of the bass line...love the 'how how how how' of the growled vocal.
  • "Shenandoah" by Bill Frisell - This is my favorite song ever...not my favorite version of it, pretty enough...instrumental enough...too slow...I miss the words.
  • "Black Velvet Band" by The Dubliners - This is the version that Bunion played at the Bond Bar while I was in Aberdeen. I loved my evenings in that bar, and I love this song by the transitive property.
  • "Einstein on the Beach: Trial 1 - All Men Are Equal" by Philip Glass - I've written about my experiences seeing this performed. My wife is a wonderful woman. I love the whole opera, even this freaky piece.
  • "Let Go" by Frou Frou - Ah, Garden State...very much of an era, of a feeling...great soundtrack...good song
  • "Light a Roman Candle With Me" by fun. - Feels very much older than it is, almost vaudville-era in the bouncy lyrics.
  • "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by David McCallum - I went through an period when I listened to - and bought - a bunch of lounge music. This is from On the Rocks - lounge versions of all your favorite rock songs. It's entertaining enough.
  • "One Way or Another" by Blondie - We need more Blondie in our lives.

July 16, 2014

Popcorn



How the heck did I not know this existed until now?

July 13, 2014

I'm so fancy...