Saturday, June 18, 2016

Son of Answers

A couple of questions from Paradox Al:

1) *(Captain America: Civil War SPOILERS)* If Bucky is a metaphor of how people with mental illness are used & abused, then..is it really OK for Cap to simply let his friend "go to sleep" at the end of Civil War? (They could've had Scarlet Witch help gradually "heal" his mind, which would've mirrored Tony helping Rhodey recover)

I've been thinking about this question since you asked it, and I'm still not sure how I feel about that. I feel like having Wanda try and fix it with her powers is problematic; sort of like a second brainwashing to fix the first, or literally a "magic solution" to a serious cycle of trauma and abuse. Either way, that solution sort of removes some of Bucky's agency, which is what Zemo (and Hydra) did to him in the first place. I wonder if going back into cryo-sleep is supposed to be a metaphor for medical treatment (not a great one, if so, admittedly). But living with that kind of trauma and abuse in your past really can't be undone, so I'm glad they didn't try to fix it with a literal hand wave.

2) If every story needs a "point", then..what is the "point" of Game of Thrones? (The HBO series, not the books)


It's too early to say. If Game of Thrones has a point, I'm not sure it's there yet. It might take until the ending for every story point and the reasons behind them to become clear. My wife and I actually argue about this all the time, but with other TV shows, and I'm usually on the side of "I'll wait until at least the end of the season and see if where we end up justifies all the time and twisting it took to get there." My wife is usually not on that side. And that's how we ended up having a weird argument about the last season of Agents of SHIELD...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

THE CONJURING 2 (2016)
I really like these movies, and I hope they make more; the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren are fertile ground for these kind of horror movies. Once again, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play the Warrens, and this one focuses a little more strongly on their love for one another and how their faith guides them (without getting preachy or precious, but instead as character elements). I will say that after the first movie, some of the CGI seems a little jarring and not in the style of the rest of the film, but it's still an effectively scary movie. This is based on the "true" story of the Enfield Haunting. I know it bothers some people that the movies treat these cases like they're real rather than exposing the Warrens as fraudsters, but it doesn't bother me. These movies are horror/action films with strong characterizations that tell their stories in a heightened way. And they're damn fun. ***1/2

WILLIE McBEAN AND HIS MAGIC MACHINE (1965)
Rankin-Bass' first theatrical stop-motion feature. My wife brought it home from a convention, having remembered it from her childhood, and it's damn hard to find info about. Cute movie about a boy and a monkey traveling through time to stop the dastardly Professor Rasputin Von Rotten from changing history. It drags even at 94 minutes, and some of the racial/national humor is dated even for 1965, but it's a cute movie. I really liked the dinosaurs and the fearful dragon in Arthurian times. **1/2

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Answers: The Last?

From Nik:

Your house is on fire; after all living people and creatures get out, what one thing do you grab and save?

Cliched answer, but the photo albums. I have all of the family photo albums for a project I've been working on.

There's a lot of dire and terrible '80s movie remakes in the last few years, but what one movie would you actually like to see a modern remake of?

Boy, and I just read this morning that Brian Grazer wants to produce a Splash remake... yikes. Not into it. My first instinct is to say Masters of the Universe, but I don't want a remake of that movie as much as I just want to see a balls-out crazy movie adaptation. Just a cosmic, satanic, sword and sandal and magic and laser guns movie that looks like it should be painted on the side of a van in 1978.

I would like to see a decent version of Firestarter, because there's probably some real potential to it but I just didn't like the 1984 movie that was made.

You go to another planet as part of an exploratory mission to see an alien civilisation. You get to bring one book with you that you can have translated into an alien tongue to give to the aliens as a book that sums up earth's culture best to you. What is the book?

America-centric answer, I think, but John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. I've never read anything else that so sharply and accurately delineates what it's like to be powerless.


And a couple of extras from Roger:

OK: Betty or Veronica? Ginger or Mary Ann? The UK or US The Office? The Beatles or the Stones? Rock, paper, or scissors? And finally, how much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck COULD chuck wood?

Veronica, Ginger, UK, both but the Beatles obviously have the higher quality catalog, scissors, and 4. Don't ask how I know, but 4. They have tiny hands.

And that's the end, unless anyone has any more. Thanks to everyone who asked!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Muppet Monday

Something random and inane today: Elton John and Miss Piggy performing "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" on episode 214 of The Muppet Show in 1977.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Song of the Week: "Do You Realize??"

I don't have anything coherent to say right now about the tragic hate crime in Orlando. I can't stand to see this happen. I can't stand to see anyone hurt simply for being who they are, and this... this makes me so angry I can't think straight. What the fuck, America, seriously? Is this just who we are now? I have this grief anxiety that I get when something makes me so angry that I can't even think or feel things. It happens every couple of years. It comes with chest pains and a sense of deep disconnect with this planet.

This song is a go-to for me when I don't have any idea how to process. It was the first song that played on the car radio after I heard my sister Ellen died in 2006. It's a beautiful melody, and it makes me feel... eventually it makes me feel peaceful even if it isn't profound. I don't want to feel profundity. I want to feel nothing.

Answers Part III

Here are some questions from Kelly:

1. How indicative is it of a broken nation that a major party is about to nominate Donald Trump?

Very. What's weirdest about it--and this may just be me--is how inevitable it feels. It feels like this is the logical end result of the past several decades. Between the dismantling of social programs/the New Deal/public education and the right wing whipping up the ignorant/fearful and the rise of Fox News and the way the internet legitimizes the unscientific (and the just plain wrong) and the fact that we can't even seem to agree that easy access to guns is not the greatest thing ever for our society and the weird pride people take in their racism and the Iraq War and just how damn tired people are of our system just not working for anyone not making $100,000 a year... and how so many people are quick to take the bait when politicians tell them which even more marginalized groups are to blame for it... yeah, I'm just not surprised that someone like Trump can become a presidential nominee.

It's dangerous as hell. Trump is everything that I think is working against America's progress in human-like form.

The only positive about this Trump onslaught is that it's shown me which family members I don't have to talk to anymore. We're talking about a man who doesn't care if Americans live or die, who wants to cut my medical benefits and all of the public assistance I need to live. Sorry, but if you support someone who wants to take away the things I need to stay alive, I take that personally.

2. You haven't mentioned baking in a while. Have you been baking of late?

I actually haven't been. Instead, I've been focusing on riding the exercise bike (ugh) and maintaining all of my flowers (yay). I do have a cookie-brownie mix that maybe I'll get to this week.

3. Do you read SAGA? If so, any thoughts on it?

I've read the first trade collection, which is something like the first five or so issues, and I thought it was really vibrant. I got it from the library, and I haven't been there in a while (they were closed for part of the winter to add on to the building, and now my card's expired and I just haven't taken care of it yet), but I'd love to read more. I don't have any thoughts on it as yet, but I find it very enjoyable and I think Prince Robot has one of the most interesting designs I've seen, either in spite of or because of it's simplicity.

4. What is DC's movie problem, anyway? (Assuming you think DC has one. I think that their movies are pretty crappy, the Nolan Batman films excepted, and while I like those, I don't think they're the best thing ever.)

I think the biggest problem is the unrelenting self-seriousness. I mean, yeah, the grimdark is a problem, and the inconsistent characterization is a problem, and even the two recent films of theirs that I still kind of enjoy--Batman Begins and Man of Steel--end up falling apart under their weirdly contradictory pretentiousness. But I think the heart of the issue is how seriously they want us to take these movies. I'm not saying these movies have to be full of quips and laughs, but all the best stories need a moment to lighten things up. People are like that. People, in any situation, are not 100 percent serious at every moment. If all Batman and Superman do is brood on their indecisiveness, they're not interesting.

The self-seriousness also makes all of those movies seem ridiculous and campy. The weird fear of ever appearing silly has turned Batman into a fascist one-percenter who has a pathological respect for the law and shows it by dressing up as a bat so he can break the law and punch mental patients because he's never properly processed the death of his parents. I absolutely hate that version of Batman. There's nothing noble or selfless about him. (He can't really be selfless, anyway, since he has no real sense of himself, despite how much time Christopher Nolan devotes to what each and every character symbolizes.) He's a narcissist and a control freak and deeply needs help. There's nothing heroic about that Batman. He's just a drag having a trilogy of breakdowns. Hey, kids! Comics!

I've not seen Batman v. Superman, but I think it's just going to retroactively make me dislike Man of Steel, a movie which has flaws I've been willing to overlook that now come across differently. I thought there was something interesting about a Superman who was reluctant to be a hero. But I don't need a Superman with a savior complex.

From the movies I have seen, I think DC needs to get over what they think their heroes symbolize and meditating on it, and stop taking themselves so seriously. I'm not saying their characters need to be comedic or breezy or silly. But I would love for them to stop defining themselves by the way they're damaged and actually freaking be heroes.

Damn, I wish Batman: The Animated Series were on Netflix...