Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Unleash the April Recap!

So what was most popular this month?  There was the Scarlet Knight movie, which you can always watch on the Special Features now.  I wish I could tweak a few things in it, but that's probably the best I can do with my limited skills/budget.

My "Covergate" post that most people completely didn't GET.  Grrrrr.  Again, just because a lot of people do something, doesn't mean it's right or should be encouraged.

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My favorite post was the Arts & Crafts post where I showed off my Scarlet Knight figures.  I should get a case of Hope Summers figures, a few buckets of paint, and find some day laborers at Home Depot to paint them into Scarlet Knight figures to sell.  Anyway, I doubt other people appreciated that because the more work I put into something the less people seem to care.  Maybe they're just jealous.  I'll go with that.

Though it didn't get a lot of hits, there was also my shameless plug for my novel "Chance of a Lifetime."  Watch the trailer (or again if you already have):

Anyway, here are some things I watched since the last Recap.  I don't know why I don't review these on Thursday except for most I don't feel like writing a lengthy post.

Game of Thrones:  Michael Offutt had been bugging me to watch this show and so on the week before Easter when Comcast had all 21 episodes to that date on demand for FREE I decided to watch them.  I like the show for the most part.  It does irk me that they have way too many storylines going on.  I mean by the start of season 3 there are probably 15 different stories and since each episode is about 50 minutes (minus credits) you only get a couple of minutes with each one.  So Robb Stark has been rebelling against the king for like 3 years now and still not reached King's Landing.  Get some faster horses, dude.  And we don't get to see much of the battles because that would be too expensive and I guess with all the stories and locales they already feature it costs too much as it is.  Anyway, I think the way to summarize every episode is like this:  political intrigue-sex-more political intrigue-more sex-a little violence thrown in-political intrigue during sex-cliffhanger ending-credits.  But hey since it's on pay cable you get all the way nudity.  Hooters!  Also a few sausage shots if that's your thing.  Of the like 50 main characters on the show mine has always been Tyrion Lannister the smart-ass dwarf.  Because he's a smart-ass and likes whores and booze.  And also because of anyone he seems like he'd be the best king because he's not a sadist like his nephew (the actual king) or a naive idealist like the Starks.  So that's kind of the best of both worlds.  Anyway, I'll have to wait and watch the rest of season 3 at some point.  Now we've got zombies and dragons into the mix, so that should make things interesting.  Maybe we'll end up with zombies fucking dragons while scheming to take over the throne...

House of Cards:  This Netflix original series is somewhat comparable to Game of Thrones, at least in the political intrigue area--there's far less nudity and violence, though still some.  The show revolves around an unapologetically sleazy Minority Whip named Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey channeling Tommy Lee Jones) and his Machiavellian schemes.  When the series begins a new president takes over (and this being Hollywood of course it's a middle-aged white guy) and denies Frank the Secretary of State post he was promised.  So over the course of the next few episodes Frank takes revenge by undermining the guy being nominated with the help of a young reporter and some very sketchy accusations.  Then does he take the Secretary of State job?  No, that would be too obvious.  Instead he engineers it so a colleague gets it and thus owes him.  At the same time he bails out a congressman from Pennsylvania who's gotten pulled over drunk and with a hooker in the car.  Frank begins to groom that guy to become a governor of Pennsylvania.  On top of that he engineers a coup for the Majority Leader's spot.  For himself?  No, because that's too obvious.  And if you think Frank is a piece of work, his wife Claire (Robin Wright) is his equal.  She ruthlessly eliminates half the staff for her charity (including the office manager she had fire everyone) and in a later episode when she finds out a dying Secret Service agent had a crush on her, she gives him a hand job in his hospital bed out of spite.  It is a great political soap opera that doesn't succumb to misplaced patriotism or idealism.  The Ferris Bueller-esque talking to the audience Frank sometimes does can be distracting at times.  Probably the most implausible thing about the show is that Frank is a Democrat from South Carolina.  And really you can't say this reflects the current reality in Congress, mostly because they can actually PASS bills.  I think a Frank Underwood would be preferable to the Eric Cantor/Paul Ryans in there now.  Anyway, the whole 13-episode season is available only on Netflix and is worth checking out.  I'm looking forward to a second season to see if Frank's schemes unravel now that he seems to have achieved his penultimate goal.  BTW, the British version of the series is also on Netflix.  It is much the same except since it was made in 1990 there's less sex (thank goodness because I don't want to see Ian Richardson naked) and bad language.

Killing Them Softly:  I really dodged a bullet when this went out of theaters in two weeks when I might out of boredom gone to see it.  Who'd have thought a movie about an assassin hired to kill guys who robbed an underground poker game could be so boring?  It's over 20 minutes until Brad Pitt shows up in the movie and then we spend another 30 minutes on an entirely pointless subplot where he tries to recruit James Gandolfini to kill this guy he's done some work for in the past--except James Gandolfini never does it and Brad Pitt does the job so easily that why didn't he bother doing it right off the bat?  It's the same thing in the beginning where this guy grills this Australian guy about whether he's qualified for the robbery job and then a few minutes later says, "I don't care who you take; anyone could do this job."  Then why were you going on and on about how you were going to carefully screen people for the job?  It just seemed like padding to get it to 90 minutes.  Definitely one you can miss.

Stolen:  This is one of those B+ movies I mentioned in one post this month.  In this case it stars Nicolas Cage (because he needs money), Malin Akerman, and Josh Lucas.  After bank robber Nic Cage gets out of jail when he's abandoned by the rest of his crew (the other two people I named) he tries to pick up the pieces of his life.  But then Josh Lucas kidnaps Nic Cage's daughter (who looked like a Justin Bieber impersonator--ick) to force him to get the money they lost in the botched job.  The ingenious but too-simple method is to cut beneath a vault and melt a bunch of gold, so that it drips into a bucket down below, which makes the gold look like lumps of shit.  (I thought it was more ingenious until I saw a GI Joe episode from 92-93 where Cobra does the same thing.  So I guess the writers of this movie watched old GI Joe cartoons too.)  I would have preferred it if more had gone into the heist than Nic Cage chasing Josh Lucas around.  BTW, why would a cab company hire someone who has no right leg and missing fingers on his right hand?  I know there are handicapped rules and stuff but don't you kind of need your right leg to drive the cab? Wouldn't it just be simpler to hire someone with two good legs who isn't also a psycho bank robber?  Anyway, with his financial problems, maybe Cage needs to go melt down some gold in a vault to pay off his creditors.

The Giant Mechanical Man:  This was one of those quirky independent romantic comedies that would probably be good for a date night.  It gets bonus props from me because it was all filmed in Metro Detroit (largely Royal Oak and Ferndale and the "Detroit" Zoo which is really in Royal Oak).  Though it's not supposed to be taking place in Detroit, evidenced by the fact that in the beginning Jenna Fischer laments her train was late.  Train?  We ain't got no damned trains in Detroit!  Except the People Mover, which I think is what they used to film the train station scenes.  Anyway, Jenna Fischer from "The Office" plays a woman down on her luck who moves in with her sister (Malin Akerman) who tries to set her up with a conversation "expert" played by Topher Grace.  But really she wants Tim the janitor at the zoo who works with her.  In his off hours Tim also paints his face silver, straps on stilts, and wears a silver suit to pretend to be a giant mechanical man--hence the title.  You'll never guess how the movie ends!  (Yeah, right.)  I think I need to go make a quirky indie romantic comedy that has a realistic ending where the girl tells the poor guy, "Screw you, I'm going with the rich guy.  Maybe after I divorce him and get half his fortune we can hook up again."  Cuz that's real life.

GI JOE Series 2, Season 2:  I think this completes my quest to watch all the complete 80s-90s GI JOE series.  Season 2 of the second series (so-called because they changed animation studios from Sunbow to DIC) isn't really any better or worse than Season 1.  About halfway through it becomes a lot more social conscious as the Eco Warriors are introduced (remember that brief time when we cared about not destroying the planet?) and then the Drug Eradication Force.  The latter featured a 2-part Very Special Episode when GI JOE Falcon gets hooked on a drug called "spark" thanks to the evil pimp-looking drug dealer known as the Headman.  In the end we see the Headman amongst some wreckage followed by the message "Drugs Kill."  Which seems to me how they should end "Breaking Bad" with a shot of Walter White's corpse and the message "Drugs Kill."  Anyway, the problem as with Season 1 is there's no real core of characters; they just keep inserting random groups of people into episodes.  I know these were supposed to be 20-minute toy commercials but it gets irritating when one episode Duke is in charge and the next it's Hawk and the next it's Flint and there are always different underlings.  Really the only one who appears in every episode is Cobra Commander.  The worst episode has to be "Kindergarten Commandos" which features Cobra Commander being bullied by 5-year-olds with erasers.  Really?  I know he's a cowardly snake but I think even Cobra Commander can whoop on toddlers.  Probably the best was "Message From the Deep" co-written by Marv Wolfman of Crisis on Infinite Earths fame (at least I assume there aren't two Marv Wolfmans) which features a socially conscious message but isn't quite as lame, though I suspect the reason there was a co-writer was to add more kid-friendly sight gags into the plot.  I'm pretty sure there wasn't a Season 3 which would be good because then things got weird with Dino Hunters and GI JOE in space and stuff.

I also wanted to spotlight a completely awful movie I watched late night on cable a couple of weeks ago.  It was called Blind Rage from 1978.  For the basic premise, imagine Ocean's 11 only if they were all blind.  No, seriously.  There's a bunch of money going to a bank in Manila for rebuilding from the Vietnam War and these guys decide that the perfect crew to heist it is a bunch of blind guys.  The logic being that no one will ever suspect blind guys.  Um, yeah, because it's completely idiotic!  They round up a bunch of blind criminals and then hire a lady to teach them how to rob the bank using a full-size mockup of it and training them to shoot anything that makes a sound.  Strangely their idiotic plan actually succeeds in robbing the bank!  Except as you might guess, it was pretty easy for employees to guess that a bunch of guys shambling around in sunglasses indoors were blind.  Then all the cops had to do was look up a criminal who'd gone blind and pick him up. In no time he rolls on his companions.  Except they're being smuggled out in the hollowed out bottom of a gasoline truck.  Which was brilliant until gasoline begins to leak into the compartment and draw attention to them, until there's a chase (like you're going to escape the cops in a fuel truck) and a fiery explosion.  As the last layer of stupidity to the plot, you'd think since now they know that the boss of operation is flying into LA that they could just have the cops waiting to pick him up and interrogate him to get the names of his other co-conspirators.  Nah, instead let's hire a bounty hunter to follow him around to a meeting with another guy and then chase them down.  That leads to the unintentionally hilarious line, "It's going down at the International House of Pancakes!"  Anyway, every aspect of this movie was poorly executed.  Not just the plot--obviously.  The sound was terrible.  All the actors sounded dubbed, even the ones who were obviously Americans; I've seen Godzilla movies with better synced sound.  The music sounded like it was played on a really cheap keyboard.  And since it was 1978 the clothes were all just awful.  This is the kind of movie that deserved to be on MST3K back in the day because it was just so hilariously bad.

Incidentally to put the cherry on this crap sundae, I think this was my worst month of selling books in probably 3 or 4 years.  Why hast thou forsaken me, book buyers?  It seems the more books I put out, the less interest people have in buying them.  Sigh.


  1. I'm way behind on my TV shows. Trying to wrap up Merlin right now. Good thing the show is family appropriate or I wouldn't be this far into it (Watching Walking Dead with two young kids in the house ... not easy). :)

  2. Scarlet Knight is coming to a store near you Pat. No one will get the post, but you keep trying.

  3. I agree with what you've said about "A Song of Ice and Fire." It does have too many characters, and it's because the book series became so popular. George R.R. Martin now (according to online websites) has a comfy salary of $15 million a year.

    He's also a huge sellout. He saw his series had grown popular and is adding tangents and more tangents to extend it. The next book "The Winds of Winter" isn't due until 2015 and he probably won't make that deadline. Furthermore, he has said that he doesn't think he'll be able to "wrap it up" in only just two books. He says he may need four more. Which is just more selling out. It really is a shame that authors get this way. Greed: it is the capitalist vision for America.

    However, there are great aspects of the story that keep bringing me back. I love the Arya storyline, I love the Tyrion storyline, the John Snow storyline, the Cersei storyline, and the Jaime Lannister storyline. I could do without updates on Bran, Stannis, the Greyjoys, Sansa, Littlefinger... they are all useless characters.

    A Feast of Crows is a 1200 page novel that features none of the major characters. I was so fucking angry at that. It is literally introducing a tone of sidelined characters to extend the story even further. Sadly, I'm a sucker and will continue to hope that someday George gives me an ending.

    I would very much like to see Daenerys Targaryen and John Snow on the Iron throne. By the end of "A Dance With Dragons" winter has finally arrived and Jaime Lannister is in a doorway staring at all the snow coming down. Snow is knee-deep basically. The five families on Westeros have destroyed each other and have no army left. And he finally knows the White Walkers are coming, and there is no way that any of the families has the strength to repel them. Their only hope really, is that Daenerys returns to Westeros with her army and her enormous dragons (by now). I predict that the dragons will prove the tipping point versus the white walkers.

    1. It seems pretty obvious. I mean dragons breathe fire and what kills the zombies? Fire. It will probably take 11 more seasons and eight more novels for them to figure that out though.

  4. Mrs. C. and I never miss "Game of Thrones." We're also hooked on "Homeland," a masterpiece of political intrigue.

  5. After the first three books the game of thrones books do spin a bit out of control. Good news is that the shows producers said they'll wrap up the series whether or not Martin had finished the books.



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