Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America was on TV tonight and I watched it while eating dinner and it got me thinking about what it is I like about hero movies (and superhero movies).

I like heroes because they're, well, because they're heroes. They stand for something bigger than themselves. They ACT on their beliefs and they're good guys. I believe most people themselves are good people. I think heroes are important not for their actions only, but to serve as examples for the rest of us that even if the odds are terribly against us that's no reason to let something go that we think is wrong.

Captain America is that kind of do-gooder hero and I like it. I also like that in the originals his bad guys he fought were the Nazis. One of the things about today's world is bad guys are often harder to tell from ambivalent guys, or people just trying to get by. Nazis... those were easy. They were bad. Today's world of terrorists is harder, more complicated. Not everybody in a turban is a bad guy. Everybody in an SS officer uniform was though. So, what do we do now? We have vague enemies, and tortured heroes are popular, broken people like Batman who is haunted, tortured, by the death of his parents and bent on justice that has a suspiciously vindictive quality to it. His simmering anger always just beneath the surface isn't someone I can look up to. He's someone I would fear if he were in our town. Captain America isn't somebody I'd fear at all. I'd LIKE having him in town.

I also like that the Captain uses a gun. He's killing bad guys remember? Batman doesn't kill anybody and doesn't use a gun and what happens? Gotham falls victim to the same bad guys over and over again. Which of them is a better hero? Batman thinks he is because he won't kill but I think sometimes killing is necessary. The Joker has killed a LOT of people over, and over, and over again and still, Batman won't put him down. Captain America would and that would stop a LOT of suffering and that's something I think is part of a hero's job description. It's something that should be part of ALL of our job description. We should ALL leave the world better than we find it every day. I think that's a real thing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

LEGO minifigs 01

I really like LEGO minifigs and have seen some really good photos of them on the web which prompted me to start trying my hand at it.

This one I liked how it looked in the radiation suit with some sort of gun thingee. No clue what it is but it needed a suitable background so I used a piece of white paper, just normal typing paper and lit it from the side/top with a blacklight flashlight I had. It gave it a good glow look and he appears to be fleeing the glow which I like. What I'm not crazy about is for some reason I couldn't get it to focus sharper on him.

It was probably due to the radiation he was running from!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: Hipstopia

I got Hipstopia for free during a promotion on Amazon. I've read R. A. Desilets before and enjoyed her books. This one looked different to me. Good different, and at free what was I out, right?

Imagine a Dystopian future, now imagine one populate/ruled by a hipster with his hipster followers? Now imagine it's in LA. What you have is the setting but it's not the story. The story is a person discovering who they are against a backdrop that says you are exactly who you want to be... in these 7 choices thankyouverymuch and don't stray, don't be different, be unique like us... exactly like us, or else.

And then boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy meets girl AGAIN and she knocks him out, literally, not figuratively. :) Go read it. It's the fashionable thing to do.

You do want to be fashionable don't you?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Movie Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction

I went to see Transformers: Age of Extinction tonight with +Allen Simpson and Ox. It was long, like very long. 165 minutes long, and I felt all of it.

Short version: I'd give it a C. Rent it at a Redbox for a buck, not on Blu-Ray! SPOILERS HAPPEN BELOW!!!

First: No Shia or Megan Fox. Those who have burned their bridges with Michael Bey and aren't going to be finding work with him any time soon. So, that means all new actors which is fine. Marky Mark seems like an odd choice but I was willing to give him a chance. I normally like him.

And then he fell into movie trope the worst. The daughter has only one parent. Now, there are two possible movie tropes here. There's either kid has one parent and other is missing OR there is the both parents are as dumb as a bag of hammers. They went for the second trope in the first three Transformers movies with foolish, bumbling, too stupid to live parents. This time they went with dead mom, single over-protective dad and he did that a lot. Constantly beat the horse to death.

The boyfriend, "Lucky Charms" had an accent sometimes that he claimed was Irish, hence the nickname. But, it wasn't always there. In one scene he was a complete coward after Marky "Dad" Mark asked, "You're not gonna bitch out on me are you?" Then of course the guy did... then Marky "over-protective but now I see you really love him so it's okay Dad" left his daughter in the guy's charge as he'd defend her. Really? He just bitched out on you.

Many times, MANY times, the car/transformer they were in would blow up, be shot, transform, fly through the air and hit a building and have to catch the fleshy human cargo. Inertia, thankfully didn't apply or they'd have been squished to paste over and over again. So, inertialess drive does exist apparently outside of the Lensman Universe.

About the time the movie SHOULD be winding up the bad guy is talked into being a good guy by Marky Mark in a 15 second conversation by phone and the second half of the movie has him being instead of the bad guy, comic relief. Seriously. He went from bad guy to comic relief. The bad guy switched from him to a bunch of others under the control of a Megatron Clone and then back from him to some other robot they'd previously tricked into leaving the galaxy... but he came back. The thing with a good story is it needs focus, it needs a bad guy. Darth Vader with the Emperor in the background is good, but going from Darth Vader to an army of clones to the emperor again... it just doesn't work. It's not good.

The heroes weren't really heroic in that the things that happened didn't happen because they were in charge of anything. They happened as the heroes reacted to things. It was always reaction. The humans in the story weren't needed at all really except as support for the robots which is cool. It's a Transformers movie after all and not a humans movie. Then why'd they spend soooo much time getting us to know the humans?

The internal logic of the movie fell flat to me. Really flat. The physics of it all was more egregiously bad than in past movies, all of which I've liked. This one? Not so much.

Did I mention the Dino-bots? Not a fan. They were the second half of the movie, oh, and John Goodman as a big cigar smoking robot. Why? I don't know. He even said once when he fell into a building, "My fat ass is stuck." *sigh* Really? At least it wasn't the balls sight gag from an earlier incarnation.

The most noteworthy part of it for me was that in the whole 17 hour long epic, okay, it only felt that long, the special effects were so special they never actually looked like effects to me. I was never brought out of the movie by them. It really looked like robots were destroying the US again, and then China. Special Effects have come a long way.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

I know what you're thinking... and you're wrong!

First what you’re thinking is, “That looks amazing. I must have it!”

While watching television in you almost certainly noticed while waiting for your show to come back on, a commercial on TV for Fazoli’s new “spicy” menu items and you were immediately struck with a yearning, a craving, an almost physical need for what must almost certainly be a cajun pasta explosion of flavor and goodness. You felt, as you saw the screen dance with spicy chicken alfredo, spicy sausage and spaghetti, and an interpretation of cajun lasagna, an urge to lean forward as your salivary glands anticipated the culinary greatness that must be yours.

Oh yes. At some meal in the future, you would lobby hard for Fazoli’s to be a choice. You would wheedle, cajole, call in favors, and promise others, all for the tantalizing splendor that would be a cajun inspired spicy Italian carbohydrate laden feast for the senses. You would be mistaken. Completely, utterly, mistaken.

The kind of wrong that, were word to get out, would destroy your reputation as a genius and erudite thinker. It isn’t at all what you’re imagining. Let me explain.

Close your eyes. Picture the standard sampler platter in front of you. You got it? Black shiny foam plate with dividers? Three portions of pasta on it in crudely dolloped out spoon fulls? Now, hold that image in your mind as I reach across the table and shake about half a teaspoon of Louisiana hot sauce, perhaps Tabasco even, on each separate selection. While you watch with your mind’s eye I reach over with my fork and stir it, ever so slightly around so the sauce isn’t visible, but isn’t really evenly distributed either. Now I return my hands to my side of your imaginary table and take a sip of my Diet Doctor Pepper and watch as you reach forward with a black plastic fork, trembling with anticipation to taste it. Then, as the first bite hits your tongue your realize your mistake. The subtle flavors of oregano, tomato, and basil of the red sauce are gone, burned off by the overly pepper-sauced conglomeration that now adorns your spaghetti. You dump your fork off onto the plate and remember the chicken alfredo and know that this, this will be a dish fit for a king. This is the kind of food bard’s used to sing about in long houses to their viking lords!

Then you put a small bite in your mouth and the traditional taste of garlic and three cheeses melted into a cream sauce has been replaced with the pepper infused vinegar flavor and aroma of the red bottle. The chicken grants no surcease from the burning in your mouth as it too is infused with this heinous distillation of dragon’s farts and heartburn. This isn’t just hot or spicy. It’s cheaply done hot and spicy. It’s the standard sauces adulterated with a knock-off hot sauce. No thought was put into measuring amounts or complementary flavors. It’s overwhelmingly tasting of a vinegar based hot sauce, and that’s all you taste through the whole meal. The three dishes are all the same dish, a noodle, a sauce that tastes only of too much hot sauce, and little else.

I like hot stuff. I love cajun cooking. I think spices are multi-layered affairs that dazzle the tongue, tease the nose, and dance their way down the diner’s throat to explode in a warm feeling of satisfaction and happiness in the eater’s stomach. This blasphemy of a meal does none of that. It rapes your tongue, claws it’s way down your throat after sodomizing your nose using a saguaro cactus strap-on, and when it gets to your stomach it turns on all the acid taps to bathe in the hydrochloric juices as your stomach wall dissolves under the assault. There’s no hint of flavor or subtlety. It’s a culinary assault and it should end soon, very soon, before you are tricked into trying it. You won’t like it. In fact, it’ll ruin perfectly mediocre Fazoli’s food and turn it into something that tastes like it spilled out of an over-charged car battery.

So, save yourself. The next time you see the commercial and are tempted, French kiss a 9V battery instead.