Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Here's How You Know Franchises Rule Hollywood Now

Here's a good way to tell that franchises, not big names, now rule Hollywood:

  • Disney fires the directors of the Han Solo movies and taps Oscar winning director Ron Howard
  • Quentin Tarantino is working with JJ Abrams on a Star Trek movie
  • Martin Scorsese is working with DC/WB on a non-continuity Joker movie
  • Steven Spielberg announces he will adapt DC's Blackhawks series for his next big movie

So you have four big-time directors slumming with franchise pictures.  The Ron Howard one was especially weird because when do you tap an Oscar-winning director to come out of the bullpen to take over your troubled movie?  When it's Disney and Star Wars and after your last four or five pictures made less combined than The Last Jedi.  Really, do think 15 years ago Ron Howard even picks up the phone if George Lucas calls and wants him to direct Episode III?

Except for Spielberg--and maybe even him to some extent--I think a lot of this is driven by the fact that these guys haven't had any really big hits in a while and if you want relevance these days, you need to connect yourself with a franchise.  Even if it's non-continuity or a one-shot like Solo or the Joker movie, it's still connecting to a franchised character.  Thus it's a good way to make some money and get back in the game.

The usual way with franchises is to find some up-and-comer and give him the reins like Spielberg with Jaws, Richard Donner with Superman, Tim Burton with Batman, Christopher Nolan with Batman Begins, Jon Favreau with Iron Man, Colin Trevorrow with Jurassic World, Rian Johnson with The Last Jedi...OK, it doesn't always work out so well.  The reasons are first that they're younger, they're hungrier, and (probably more important) they're cheaper than a big-time established director.  I mean if you wanted Francis Ford Coppola to direct Batman Begins, he might have demanded full creative control, a $500 million budget, and a bunch of weird changes to the source material and if he doesn't get that, he can walk and go back to making weird art movies and selling wine and living off Godfather royalties.  Someone who doesn't have a big-time track record is more likely not to make a huge fuss (Josh Trank excepted) and if he does, you can fire him and no one will care.

The other common method is to pick someone who's had some success but maybe not for a while like Bryan Singer with X-Men or Sam Raimi with Spider-Man or Zack Snyder with Man of Steel or Joss Whedon with Avengers.  They might not be as young, but they've got something to prove and again you can probably fire them if they get too rowdy without much of a problem.

But generally you're not talking about Oscar-winning filmmakers taking these jobs.  Because up until recently they would be too expensive and you probably can't count on any commitment past one movie.

What's changed?  Well, just look at the top movies for the last 10 years or so.  It's pretty much all Star Wars and superheroes.  And most were directed by up-and-comers or retreads, not big names.  So if you're Martin Scorsese and you want $200 million for some new epic, the studio execs might say, "What have you done for me lately?"  I mean I can get some kid who just directed a well-respected indie film to do a Man-Thing movie and make a half-billion dollars.  Why risk $200 million on someone who hasn't had a big hit since 2006?  But hey, you do a Joker movie, it makes some money, and then maybe it'll prove I'm still relevant and I can go back to doing stuff I really want to do.

It is selling out, pretty much by definition.  But at this point it's probably also the nature of the beast, even for big-time directors in Hollywood.  I think as with actors, directors are finding more and more that studios are back in control thanks to franchises being more important than names.

But then I'm also wrong on stuff a lot, so who knows?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Purely Bad Characters Are Better Than Wishy-Washy Bad Characters

NBC's "Superstore" is like the TV equivalent of the Union Station books by EM Foner I've read over the last year or so.  I don't really love those books but they're often amusing and usually free, so I keep reading them.  In this case the workplace comedy is often amusing and free over the air or "free" on demand or on Hulu, so why not?

For two seasons the worst part of the show is the cliche "will they-won't they" relationship between floor manager Amy and liberal elite employee Jonah.  In the pilot episode Jonah was a new hire and befriended Amy.  He was hoping for something more, but then he finds out she's married and  has a teenage daughter.  But that doesn't stop her from engaging in a middle school romance with Jonah that culminated in a passionate kiss at the end of season 2 when they thought they were going to die in a tornado.

This season Amy divorces her husband, which leaves her free to pursue Jonah, right?  No, of course not, because he gets involved with a new employee, the bubbly bimbo Kelly.  Except of course he can't just let Amy go.  So he winds up cheating on Kelly with Amy, who by this time is pregnant with her ex-husband's baby.  Holy soap opera, Batman!  The end of the season has Amy and Jonah fucking on a hidden webcam that broadcasts the act to stores all over the world.

By that point Amy and Jonah have pretty much entirely ceded the moral high ground.  I mean, she cheated on her husband and he cheated on his girlfriend.  She then goes back to her ex-hubby for a one-night stand that produces a baby.  Meanwhile, Jonah just casts Kelly aside even though she wasn't unfaithful to him.  Yet strangely the writers seem to want us to think these are the "good guys."

The final episode revolves around a town hall company meeting in the superstore that's being broadcast all over the world.  When Amy and Jonah find out that the company has been canning its elderly employees by writing up false performance reports, they decide to set up a sting to expose the crime during the meeting.  The hidden webcam is part of this so the company can't just turn off the cameras.

Which is all well and good...except you have the two worst people on the show launching this moral crusade.  You have essentially an adulterer and a guy who crushed his girlfriend's feelings like an empty beer can sitting in judgment of Corporate America?  Who the fuck are these assholes to judge anyone?

This was the overriding problem with this third season.  You're asking me to care and root for these shitheads, who are also unfortunately the stars of your show.  The only thing I'm rooting for is for them to get fired and disappear at the start of next season.  That is extremely unlikely as America Ferrera is a producer and sometimes director of the show, so unless it gets canceled (unfortunately NBC is not listening...) these assholes are likely to continue sucking up air time that could be better spent on characters who aren't the worst.

The thing is, I don't mind if characters are amoral assholes.  A good example of this is the show that for the second half of the year followed Superstore:  AP Bio.  It stars Glenn Howerton (Dennis of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as a complete asshole who gets thrown out of Harvard and is reduced to teaching high school biology.  Except he has no interest in actually teaching biology.  Instead, he enlists his nerdy students in destroying his British rival, who got a prestigious job chairing the philosophy department at Stanford.

This guy is as I say a complete asshole and yet it's fine with me.  Why?  Because the show doesn't ask me to root for him or try to make him some moral authority.  It's more about the shenanigans that result from his Bad Teacher antics.  Then it's a nice bonus when he does something relatively nice like help one girl in his class impress a boy.

Ironically, though, this unrepentant asshole is actually less of an asshole than the assholes on the other show.  I mean, he doesn't cheat on a girlfriend or knock up an ex.  So he actually has more moral authority than those other two assholes.

As I say in the title of this entry, it's better to have a character who's purely bad than to be wishy-washy about it.  Don't make characters do bad things and then expect me as the viewer (or reader) to root for them to have a Happily Ever After or succeed in some moral crusade.  It was in an old Lawrence Block book I read a month or so ago where after a would-be Bonnie and Clyde ride off with a bunch of stolen money, he writes how terrible it would be for them to live Happily Ever After, because what would that say?  So they had to meet justice in the form of a police blockade.  By the same token, why should I want Amy and Jonah to live Happily Ever After?  They've lied, they've cheated, and they've been insensitive pricks.  If they get to live Happily Ever After, what does that say?  No, dumbass writers and producers of the show, I want them to meet karmic justice!  I demand karmic justice!  No happy endings for wishy-washy assholes.

Basically, I'm saying if you're going to make characters act like assholes, then go all in.

BTW, something else always bugged me about Superstore and I finally realized what was lacking.  In one episode our moral authority (lol) finds out that the corporation wants to make their store a "4A store" which means it would be open 24 hours and employees would be worked like dogs.  To avoid this fate, the employees work to drive sales down so they won't meet a sales quota.

This kind of slacker humor is what was missing from the show right from the start.  I mean if you watch Clerks, some of the funniest parts are where the slacker Randle dicks with customers or tells them off.  Some of the best parts of Office Space were when Peter was slacking off and when they steal an annoying printer to smash it.   Some of the funniest parts of the indie novel Sale Day at C-Mart (about a KMart type store) were how employees would scheme to slack off.  That's what this show should have been!  Employees trying to avoid doing more than the bare minimum vs. a clueless manager and draconian district manager.  Because as Homer Simpson said, "If you don't like your job, you don't quit.  You just go in every day and do it completely half-assed.  That's the American way!"

The problem with Superstore is they didn't want anyone to be "the bad guy" so they populate the show with wishy-washy characters.  I guess you can say that's more "real" but it's a sitcom so no one is expecting morally complex characters.

Maybe they can do that in a reboot 20 years from now.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Why Is It So Hard to Leave Feedback?

I'm not talking about book reviews--though this also applies to that.  I'm talking about EBay.  I've been selling stuff periodically on EBay for a few years now.  I've made about thirty sales I'd say.  Yet I've only gotten feedback from maybe a third of buyers.  Most of the feedback I have on my account is still from people I've bought from.

It's kind of frustrating because when you're selling on EBay, more positive feedback provides more credibility.  Yet because people are too lazy to provide feedback, my account still looks like a newb's.  I wouldn't be surprised if that hurts me when I'm trying to sell something.

And it's not that I'm doing a bad job.  I ship things out pretty much the next day.  I often lose money on shipping so I'm not overcharging people for that.  I think generally I provide enough protection that the item arrives in good shape.  So why can't these jackasses leave some feedback?

Unlike Amazon, EBay even sends reminders to leave feedback.  And it's just common courtesy.  I do it usually after I receive an item or once I've received payment for an item.  I'm doing my part.  Why can't other people do theirs?  Do they not realize how fucking important it is?

And yes, most of this also applies to books.  Reviews (good ones) are so important and it takes so little effort on Amazon or Goodreads, but people can't even do that!  Why are so many people so lazy?  Ugh, it's so annoying.

I guess this is a country where 20% is considered "good turnout" for an election.  Unless it's a reality  TV show it seems impossible to get people off their asses to do anything.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dear Reader: It's a Trap!

One of the most common complaints I receive is stories are too mean.  Waaaah, it doesn't end Happily Ever After!  To which I just usually roll my eyes.

I  know I've mentioned before this one person who left a good review for one story and then submitted a bunch of bad reviews on "mean" stories, many of which were obviously not cozy fare like Goth girl stories.

The height of this person's idiocy then came when she complained about a book going into "punishment land" and the first sentence of the description was:
When Harry Nelligan's wife finds out he's going to a website featuring videos of Asian girls, she decides on a unique way of revenge.
It says right in the first sentence it's a story about revenge!  So of course it goes to "punishment land" you fucking moron!  I mean, what, you thought she'd get revenge by sending him a strongly-worded letter? 

So then I decided to set a trap for morons like this.  I decided to write a new series called "Dark Gender Swap" that are not cozy, go to fucking "punishment land," and do not end Happily Ever After.  And if you have a problem with that, well, it's called DARK Gender Swap, so what the fuck did you think it meant?

The first of these stories is called "Simone Says."  It's a take on the old "Simon Says" game.  In this case, a cheating husband's wife puts a curse on him so whenever she says, "Simone Says..." he has to do whatever comes next.  If she says "Simone Says, you're a woman now" then he turns into a woman.  And it just snowballs from there.

I used an evil font and stuff so I think I did pretty much everything I could to spell out this isn't a fucking cozy story.  So far no one's bit on it or the second one.  Too bad.  But maybe someday someone will.

The first couple of days it was for sale it actually sold well enough to be a #1 New Release in both Transgender Erotica and Lesbian Erotica.  It sounds more impressive than it is sales-wise, but still, I'll take it.

 Hooray, #1 in a paid something category!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Amazon's Secret War Against Authors

Last March I noticed something weird:  a lot of my books still had rankings in subcategories but not an overall ranking.  It wasn't that they were so far over a million that they couldn't be ranked anymore; most of them were still between 150k-500k so there was no reason for them to disappear. 

I just assumed it was a system glitch or something.  But then I saw a Facebook post from Writer Beware that linked to this article.  Turns out there was a sinister reason for this:  Amazon was conducting a secret, undeclared war on erotica authors.

The idea is that Amazon wanted to make erotica titles harder to find but not ban them altogether.  Apparently part of this was concern about a "sex trafficking" law.  I actually find it pretty ridiculous to call erotica authors like me "sex workers."  I mean if someone is reading one of my books they're not out hiring real sex workers, aka prostitutes.  Really the powers that be should want more erotica authors because it'll help keep people from going out having actual sex, right?

Amazon wasn't the only one to overreact to this.  Microsoft declared it would have a PG only policy in Office 365 and XBox Live, which seems ridiculous and fascist.  I mean does that mean I can't type naughty words in MS Word or some goon will delete it?  Is someone going to stand by with an airhorn to bleep out cursing if I shout an f-bomb while playing Madden or HALO or something?  And I don't know how that fights sex trafficking. 

Anyway, the ridiculous thing with Amazon is that they wanted to try hiding erotica titles--but they continued profiting from them.  I mean even when they took down my overall rankings, they didn't stop taking their 30% from my books.  It's pretty cowardly really.  Either ban erotica or don't; this is just weaseling. 

The secret war was over by the end of the month, though.  As the article says, it wasn't because of authors like me so much as authors from the Big 5 they were carelessly hitting with these sanctions.  Amazon doesn't give a shit if Planet 99 Publishing complains about books becoming invisible, but if Random Penguin calls up, then they start to get worried.

I wouldn't be surprised if at some point they try it again.  Probably the next time they'll target it better.  Because another bit of hypocrisy is if I do something it can easily be quashed, but if a best-selling author does the same, hardly anyone will say boo about it.  I mean Amazon isn't going to pull EL James' books or even Lawrence Block's erotica titles from the 60s because they're more well-known authors, but people like me they can pick on.

But hey, all's fair in love and war, right?

Friday, June 8, 2018

Wish is No Amazon Killer

It was probably some stupid Medium article where some idiot Millennial was saying how great the Wish app was and how it'd put Amazon on the run or something.  Seems like the kind of shit they post.  Anyway, between whatever that was and ads on my crossword game on my phone I decided to try the Wish app on my Kindle Fire.

The result:  unless you want knockoff shit that takes generally 3 weeks to arrive poorly packaged from China, this really isn't any threat to Amazon or EBay or traditional retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, etc.

The first thing I noticed is that anything that's a normal retail brand is more expensive than Amazon or EBay.  I searched a few different categories:  electronics, toys, diabetic testing supplies, etc and it was the same story every time.  Anything that was a normal brand you could find in stores would be more than other places.

But plenty of good deals on knockoffs!  It's the kind of place where a Sorny is a lot cheaper than a Sony.  Though with toys there are plenty of interesting Transformers knockoffs.  The first thing I bought from the app was a Powerglide knockoff that is slightly bigger than the normal Hasbro one, but actually looks pretty accurate to the old TV show.  Other than one arm being loose there weren't really any defects, so there's that.

To actually get anything, though, takes weeks.  It takes about 3 weeks on average because everything comes from China.  There's no 2-day Prime shipping either.  I guess for some you might be able to pay more to get it quicker, but nothing I order is anything I desperately need.  You definitely wouldn't want to order anything you need right away.  The stuff is usually shipped in a thin plastic bag.  If you're lucky they'll wrap the item in something, like a Deadpool figure I bought came in a plastic air bag so it didn't break, but the Powerglide knockoff got kinda flattened over the long trip.

Since pretty much everything is from China, the descriptions of items pretty much suck.  A lot of them will show something like a smart phone or TV or something with a price like $1-$10 but you're not buying a phone or TV, you're buying a stand or cord or something that may or may not be pictured in the cover image or in just a tiny corner.  But on the plus side you can buy sex dolls.  I mean, really life-like ones.  So there's that.

There are some things it does better than Amazon, though.  For one thing you can often buy an item "with" someone else.  One person can buy an item and sign up to get a discount reimbursed to them if someone else buys the same item in the next 48 hours.  So if Cindy buys Item A and signs up for the discount and the next day I buy Item A, we each might save $1 or so on it.  That would be a neat thing for Amazon to do.

The other fun thing is once a day you can spin a wheel and it presents you with 10-100 special deals based on stuff you've looked at before.  The discounts aren't really that much compared to normal, but it's neat to see what crap they'll offer.  Sometimes there might be something good.

Anything I buy I use PayPal for just so I have that slight buffer between the Wish app and my credit card information.  Even with some successful orders I don't feel all that comfortable with them.

I tried leaving a review saying most of this on Amazon but they of course blocked it, probably because I dared to suggest they aren't perfect.  I mean for all its good points, Amazon is far from perfect--just don't tell them that.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Hulu's "Future Man" is Another Serializing Fail

A couple of months ago I watched the Hulu original series Future Man because the commercials made it seem interesting.  The basic premise is that a slacker named Josh Futterman, who uses the screen name "Future Man" finally beats a video game and is then visited by the two characters in the game--Tiger and Wolf.  It turns out the "game" is really a simulator sent to the past to find a genius to save humanity.  Which as Josh points out is pretty much the premise of The Last Starfighter.

The show has plenty of fun bits but the problem is that trying to stretch it into a 13-episode series of half-hour-ish episodes the plot ends up having to be padded.  It's not quite as boring as Netflix's The Punisher was; in this case the plot ended up with a lot of unnecessary complications.

Josh is a janitor at a medical research company that's trying to come up with a cure for herpes because its founder (Keith David) has herpes.  But in trying to cure herpes, in the future they create a universal cure that leads to a race of genetically "superior" humans who try to wipe out all the "inferiors." 

When Josh conveniently learns how the company founder got herpes, he convinces the two Resistance fighters to take him back to 1969, the night of the moon landing.  At a college frat party he "cockblocks" the future founder of the company to keep him from getting herpes.  Problem solved, right?  Nope.  He just gets herpes from someone else!  And Josh left his iPhone in the past so it was "invented" by a guy named Lamar who called it "Black Apple" or "Blapple" instead.

There's the first set of complications.  After this trip through time, they find their time travel device is low on fuel--Cameronium.  Of course there's none to be had in 2017, but enemy agents in the present might have more.  So they concoct a scheme to poison everyone at the company XMas party; the theory being the agents from the future won't suffer any ill effects.  Which in the process reveals the one woman who's shown any interest in Josh at the company is of course an enemy agent they have to take captive.

From her they find out the fuel they need for the their time travel will be discovered by James Cameron on an undersea dive in 2023.  So with the last of their fuel they go to 2023 to James Cameron's smart house, which is powered by a system called SIGORN-E.  (It's not voiced by Sigourney Weaver and James Cameron does not appear anywhere.)  Wolf makes nice with the house and it eventually helps them get the Cameronium.

But the pure Cameronium is unstable and causes Josh and Wolf to swap penises.  Eventually they decide to go back to 1985 and stop the founder of the medical research company from continuing his work and get him on a boat with his true love.

This introduces a new set of complications.  First, it turns out the guy's true love is a dude!  And while working on that, Josh ends up at his parents' house and almost does a Back to the Future with his mom.  Meanwhile, Wolf finds he really loves 1985--especially coke!  While Josh and Tiger go back to the present, Wolf stays behind to start his own exotic restaurant where people eat really weird shit like rat miscarriage. 

Though Josh got his boss on the boat, of course that doesn't work.  Instead the guy's lover dies and he accelerates his research.  Fed up with this, Tiger decides to just go back to 1949 and kill the guy as a baby, but instead becomes his nanny for three years.  Meanwhile, Josh finds he has a more successful and "extreme" version of himself called Joosh living in his parents' house and that he put his parents in a crappy retirement home.

Eventually Tiger returns to the present and then goes back to save Wolf, who has become so addicted to coke that he has to take it anally.  Thanks to his future training and stuff it only takes him a half-day to kick the habit and get back on track.  So then finally they can storm the company's headquarters to try to take it out once and for all.

So along the way there are a lot of complications, most of which wouldn't be necessary if you were just making a 2-hour-ish movie.  But because it's a 13-episode series, you need all these complications to keep things going.  It gets a little ridiculous by the time pretty much a whole episode focuses on Wolf in the 80s-90s.  I mean at some point you know they're going to take out the company, so just get to it!

That can be the problem with TV shows vs movies.  Maybe if they'd done like a lot of shows and made it only 10 episodes it would have been better.  Still, it's not a bad series. For the most part I enjoyed it.  It was just maybe too much of a good thing.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Amidst the Quest for Money, Can Harrison Ford Ever Have a Happy Ending?

(I also thought of calling this "The Many Ways to Kill Harrison Ford" but that might have gotten me a visit from the FBI.  Of course I only mean killing him in movies, not real life.)

A couple of months ago I was watching Blade Runner 2049, which is supposed to take place 30 years after the first movie that starred Harrison Ford as Deckard.  At the end of that movie, Deckard and the android Rachel disappear; in the director's cut they go off into the forest or something.  They live happily ever after, right?

Nope.  In the sequel it's revealed that they split up after Deckard knocks Rachel up with a baby.  (Is it an android or human or hybrid?  I don't know.)  Rachel dies in childbirth while the kid is brought up in a brutal orphanage before being adopted.  She never sees her daddy until the very end of the movie.  I guess that's something, right?

But that got me thinking that this is pretty much the same as the Star Wars movies.  In Return of the Jedi Leia and Han finally get together.  They live happily ever after, right?  Nope.  In The Force Awakens their son is a psychopath and Han and Leia break up, him going back to smuggling with Chewie and Leia leading the Resistance.  Then Han is murdered by his own son!

Indiana Jones gets back together with Karen Allen and connects with his estranged son in the fourth movie.  That's happy, but there will be a fifth movie and of course things will have to change.  It seems unlikely they'd have Shia LeBeouf back, so the son will have to be written out.  In its quest for money, Hollywood just can't leave well enough alone, especially for Harrison Ford.

So what other Harrison Ford movies can Hollywood ruin?

Indiana Jones:  Since I mentioned it, let's ruin this franchise--more so.  My idea is that in the early 60s Indy finds some artifact and escapes from some mercenary jerk.  But when he gets back, the mercenary jerk has killed his family! (Or just the son.)  Like 5 years later Indy is retired and broken down and divorced/widowed.  Then some younger guy comes to him to ask for his help finding some MacGuffin.  The Buddha's jock strap or something.  The biggest problem is this thing is in Vietnam!  So then it's like Apocalypse Now where they have to go down a river and through the jungle and shit until they get to some temple or whatever with the mercenary jerk who killed Indy's family on their trail.  There's a final showdown and the mercenary jerk is killed by whatever artifact.  Indy has to sacrifice himself so the others escape.  He gives the young guy his hat and whip before he dies.  The end.

Working Girl:  In the original Ford and Melanie Griffith hook up and she starts her new career as an 80s executive.  In the sequel they'd be separated or divorced 30 years later.  They lost their shirts in the crash of 2008.  Their daughter is just starting out with some startup and so goes to see her parents for help:  Melanie Griffith is back to secretarial work while Ford is retired and bitter.  After they're reunited, Ford dies of a heart attack and after grieving, his daughter makes a big presentation with her mother's help.

Air Force One:  We could cleverly call this Air Force TWO!  20 years later, Ford's president character is retired.  His daughter has recently been sworn in as vice-president and on the way to some conference he gets on the VP's plane (Air Force Two) with her.  Then there's word that Air Force One has been destroyed!  Terrorists tried to hijack the plane but instead it crashed, killing all on board--including the president, so Ford's daughter is now POTUS!  At least until terrorists take over the plane.  But Ford and a Secret Service agent escape and then play cat-and-mouse while the terrorists use the new POTUS as a bargaining chip.  In the end the terrorists die but the plane is going to go down.  Everyone else bails out, but Ford stays behind to steer the plane to safety.  Later he gets a state funeral and his daughter makes a speech and the Secret Service guy is now part of her detail and whatnot.

The Fugitive:  25 years after his wife's murder, Dr. Richard Kimble is a doctor in a small town.  Then one night his protege comes to his house covered in blood, claiming his girlfriend was murdered.  So Dr. Kimble helps him to escape the cops.  Along the way Kimble is murdered by the killer--a one-armed woman!  So then his protege has to solve his murder too!

American Graffiti:  According to IMDB Ford appeared in More American Graffiti as a cop so let's just use that.  However many years later, Ford is sheriff in a small town during the summer when kids are hot rodding, including his grandson.  And Ford gives his grandson some relationship advice and stuff.  Later he dies and his grandson and girlfriend are brought back together by the touching funeral eulogy the grandson gives.  You could probably set it in the 80s or 90s or something like that for nostalgia.

Jack Ryan:  You can probably do one for Jack Ryan but with a new Amazon series with that character I don't think it'd be likely to happen. If I were to do one I'd say 20 years or whatever after the last Ford movie with the character, Jack Ryan is peacefully retired.  Meanwhile in a tip of the hat to recent events, a CIA analyst is investigating something and comes across evidence that the head of Russia, formerly a KGB agent, has been rigging elections in America.  The analyst seeks out Jack Ryan, who knew the Russian president from the Cold War.  Their discussion is interrupted by hired goons so they go on the run.  Jack Ryan is killed as they're trying to get to Russia to find some proof.  The analyst completes the mission and Jack Ryan is laid to rest with honors, a last casualty of the Cold War.

Extraordinary Measures:  Dr. Harrison Ford (who's supposed to be an Asian guy IRL--I see you, whitewashing!) is WORKING AROUND THE CLOCK(!!!!!) on a cure to some disease.  But then he has a heart attack or stroke or something.  He tells his son or daughter, who's also a doctor, to finish his work.  So the son or daughter takes it up and meets someone.  The son or daughter visits Ford a few times before eventually Ford dies but the son or daughter finds the cure.  Hooray! (This is all predicated on the notion that he didn't die in the first movie.  I never saw it.  I only ever watched the previews.)

I killed him off in the end of each fake movie just for the hell of it.  It's not like we can wait another 20-30 years for another sequel to these, right?  And we can't apparently let him just walk off into the sunset, so it's better to just kill him off over and over again.  You can probably think of some ideas of your own, but don't at least some of these sound like movies Hollywood would make?  If anyone knows Harrison Ford's agent, let me know and I'll go pitch these.  I mean, why leave any happy endings for him when there's money to be made?

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Inconvenience of the Cinema

When I was unemployed I could go to movies pretty much whenever I wanted, not that I necessarily did.  Still it was pretty easy to work a showing into my busy schedule.  Since going back to work, though, going to movies has been more of a chore.

For one thing I don't really like going at night because it's more expensive and more crowded.  I used to go on Saturdays but usually now I reserve Saturdays for writing most of the day.  I could go Sundays but I don't really like doing anything Sunday.

So most of the time I end up going after work, which can be kind of annoying.  The thing then is do you go to the movie first or get dinner first?  Usually I get out of work at 4:30-5, which is a little early for dinner, but since most big movies are 2-2 1/2 hours (longer with previews and all that) then I often don't get out until 7-7:30 or so, which is late for dinner.

Theaters themselves aren't making it all that convenient either.  It's nice that they have these big reclining chairs now, but it kinda sucks that you have to pick a seat before you even go into the theater.  What if the seat you pick is behind someone really tall?  Or someone who talks loudly on their phone?  Or has a couple of bratty kids?  I just like having the freedom to decide where I want to sit when I get there and survey the scene.

You've probably seen those people who would stand at the base of the stairs in the theater for like 10 minutes debating where to sit.  Well now thanks to this assigned seating crap, those people are having this debate at the box office, so at busy times they're slowing down the line, which I guess is an argument to use the machines more.

One in Novi is especially ridiculous.  One time I went in and I wanted a soda.  Well the line I was in was just for hot food now.  So I get in another line.  No that's the line for popcorn.  Finally I find the line for soda.  What the hell is that?  Now if I want popcorn, nachos, and a soda I'd have to get into line 3 times?  What a lot of unnecessary hassle.  I guess if I really want a soda I'll go to a vending machine.

It's at the point where if I could rent most big movies On Demand or whatever the same weekend they come out I'd probably do it for like $10 or so, especially if I could keep it for a day or two to watch it more than once.  I guess I'm just getting too lazy in my old age.

I waited like 3 weeks to watch Avengers 3 because I had some time off coming in mid-May and figured it'd just be easier to fit it in then.  I also watched Ready Player One then, though that was harder to fit in because it was only at like one theater.  The other one I wanted to see was Pacific Rim 2 but that was only playing in one theater 40 miles away at like 4:30 or 7:30.  That was just too much of a hassle.

Deadpool 2 I watched on opening day at 11:30 in the morning at the Regency-UA theater in Commerce Township that still has the traditional concessions and seats.  I guess it wasn't as comfortable but there was a lot less hassle.  And by going early opening day I didn't have to worry about fitting it in the next week when I was back at work.  A win-win!

Now there's probably nothing I really want to watch in the theater until July.  Hooray!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Won't You Lend a Hand to Some Very Messy Medieval Magic?

Monday I read this post on David P. King's blog about this book Some Very Messy Medieval Magic.  I don't know the author, but he mentioned that while her book recently came out, her husband also passed away.  So I thought I'd do something slightly better than nothing by promoting the book on my blog.

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.
There’s only one solution - fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.
But what if the page remains lost - will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again...
It's $3.99 on Amazon or you can get it from other retailers since it's not in Kindle Unlimited.  So why not go over and buy a copy and maybe help an author going through a hard time feel slightly better?  Maybe make yourself feel a little better too.  And you get a book out of the bargain.  So there.


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