Kirst Words

They only sound cursed.

November 22nd, 2014

mockingjay_logo

I really don’t know that I’m going to ever see Interstellar. The almost three hour running time (169 minutes) is daunting and it seems that the rules for trailer time have been lifted from exactly 15 minutes to somewhere closer to 25 minutes which means even if I just show up and get in as the trailers start, I’m still there for almost 3.5 hours. But who knows? I am in the middle of NaNoWriMo so time is at a weird premium. Even the DVR just gets wiped occasionally.

But I still do have time to do stuff. In addition to seeing John Cleese, I attempted to host book club — they cancelled the day of so I didn’t really gain any time, I just didn’t have to host. (Yes, it’s kinda shitty, even more so since they tried to change the date on me the day before when I hosted last month.) I also went to see Mick Foley. I would have taken notes and maybe written something up but there was a danger I’d've been thrown out. Really. Foley was Thursday night up in MB Financial Park where there is also a Muvico theater with their glorious MuviXL screens and the night I saw Foley Mockingjay started. Bet you thought I’d never get around to the title subject of this blog. Don’t worry, you’ll think that again. The theater was full except the “pit” so I waited and went to a local 9:15 am matinee on Friday. I was hoping for earlier but 9:15 is pretty good.

Like Breaking Dawn, Mockingjay really doesn’t need to be broken up into two parts. I’m not sure about Potter but I’m guessing they could’ve Goblet of Fired it and made that one film as well. I’ve read all the books for each of these series (yes, even Twilight) before I’ve seen the movies. Each part 1 I’ve seen, has been kind of a let down, consisting mostly of set up and Mockingjay holds true. In this year’s NaNoWriMo, I find myself sequelling my first novel and while it’s a little different it’s not enough different. Not “Hunger Games/Catching fire” or “Dan Brown” same but “Harry Potter” the same or “all of Neil Gaiman’s books are the same” same. And so I’ve spent some time pondering change. Suzanne Collins’ first two Hunger Games were almost exactly the same book with the same beats and I kind of wanted that familiarity with Mockingjay. Instead I hated the book. Life in district 13 was depressing, there was no adventure, everyone used Katniss. It was not fun. I’ve wondered if Collins was bored by the time she wrote third book and was looking to change it up. To change things as an author. To make things more interesting for herself.

So I didn’t hate part 1 the movie as much as I hated the book. I’m not sure I really hated the book as much as I did because I have not revisited it to see. Life in 13 was kinda boring and everyone was looking to use Katniss (Jeniffer Lawrence) who, as a character, has always been a bit simple and not very personable. The adults were interesting. Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) was still the most enjoyable character in the film and he was quick to point out Katniss’ flaws. He was followed by Plutarch (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) who seemed to spend a lot of time manipulating Coin (Julianne Moore) into being a more charismatic leader. But his performance was marred by the knowledge of his real-life tragedy. The film was almost all set up and it didn’t even end where I thought it would: Primrose (Willow Shields.) Maybe that’s too late. It’s not bad but not really for anyone other than book readers or die-hard fans (who I would think have read the book.)

Stingers: THERE ARE NONE! DO NOT STAY! At the very end of the credits I was hoping for a trailer for part 2. Instead the mockingjay pin logo morphed into the triumphant, almost phoenix-like, mockingjay logo set against a flaming background.

November 13th, 2014

Apologies to all, this is VERY first drafty and I’ll hopefully clean it up soon but I have to get back to NaNoWriMo-ing.

The recent O2 shows for Monty Python’s Flying Circus had the subtitle of One Down, Five to Go referring to the deceased Graham Chapman. Graham was the only Python I had seen live and that was back in the late 80s when Graham was promoting “The Dangerous Sports Club.” On Tuesday night I got to see my second Python live, John Cleese. John was promoting his autobiography “So Anyways” and appeared at the Tivoli Theater in downtown Downers Grove courtesy of Anderson’s Books.

Winter sort of started that day. It was Veterans Day and being a government employee meant I had the day off but the cold prevented me from wanting to go out. That and I wanted to get ahead on my NaNoWriMo-ing as I was planning to go out the next night as well. [I wrote enough of a cushion that I only need to write about 600 words today to stay on track.] I considered going to see Interstellar which would get out with enough time for me to easily make it but I decided I did not want to spend more than 6 hours in theater seats, no matter how comfortable they were so I left close to 6PM hoping to get there around 6:30 with rush hour traffic. I arrived and found no parking in the immediate area so I parked at the public library (still very close) but just south of the train tracks with the Tivoli Theater being just north and a block east.

It was cold. Not really but it was a good first cold and it was windy, adding to the cold. I found a spare stocking hat in my trunk but no gloves and headed over. The line went out the door. The line was for will-call tickets which I had. It moved steadily but still took about 15 minutes to get in. There I claimed my tickets, retrieved my books, grabbed a drink and found a seat about 1/3 of the way back and to the side. I got two books in case Pat was going to be able to join me but he couldn’t — we never did work out if he wanted a book though I’m sure I can find many people who wouldn’t mind getting an autographed John Cleese book as a gift.

In the theater there was a man playing an organ and two chairs with an end table between them and some bottles of water. We would applaud the organist after every song but everyone applauded louder when he started to sink into the stage. One of the Andersons from Anderson’s Bookshop introduced John Howard (I’m not really sure if that was his name but I’m sure about the Howard part) who was an extra in Life of Brian and a comedian in his own right. He introduced John Cleese to a standing ovation as the organist played the portion of Sousa’s Liberty Bell that served as the theme song for the Monty Python’s Flying Circus television show.

John Cleese’s father originally had the surname “Cheese” but was so tired of being teased about it changed the H to an L when he enlisted and became a “Cleese.” That’s why it’s rare to meet a Cleese as it’s not a proper name. John only had daughters and they both changed their names but one of his daughters was a comedian and performs using the stage name Camilla Cleese. She was performing the next night in Chicago but Howard quickly informed everyone it was sold out.

John’s mother was born in 1899 and died in 2000, spanning the entirety of the 20th Century. She was a very simple woman who feared everything and did not have common knowledge mainly due to her fearing everything. He told a story of how he and his wife served her quail eggs but she was unaware of the tiny things so John lied, claiming they were mole eggs that he and his wife gathered by the light of the full moon which is when the moles lay their eggs near the entrance of their burrows to which she told him “oh, that’s nice.” John continued by explaining how his mother would complain about all the things she was afraid of and what worried her and how she thought she was going to die.

The Mother Story
For her birthday she was spending a week with John in London. Instead of having to spend a long depressing Sunday night with her, listening to her describe all the ways she was going to die, I decided I would find something else to do. I recalled the Royal Shakespeare Company would be reading poetry in a few weeks and wouldn’t she like to go? “Oh no, I don’t like poetry,” was her reply but I mentioned she went to poetry readings all the time and she told me “that was for the sherry.” Now she was a fan of Peter Bridell [Author's Note: I'm not sure if this was the actor's name but it's the one I'm using] and I decided I’d trick her by telling her at some point in the programme they were going to load Peter Bridell into a cannon and fire him across the stage into a net. She said she liked Peter Bridell very much and that she would go. I was able to procure good seats in the very front.

Now three weeks pass and we go to see the Royal Shakespeare Company read poetry except I had got it wrong; they were not reading poetry but the diaries of Argentinian prisoners. The evening was turning out to be even more depressing than listening to my mother explain the ways in which she expected to die! At intermission I asked if she wanted to go but, to my surprise, she wanted to stay. So we stayed. The actors continued their readings and at some point she leaned over and whispered to me “When are they going to fire Peter Bridell out of a canon?” [At this point the audience can not stop laughing but John continued.] It had been three weeks and I forgot all about what I had told her to get her to go the theater and I found it so ridiculous I just burst out laughing. This, of course, was in the front row of the theater, in plain sight of the actors reading the diaries of war victims.

John performed in Chicago for bit in Hyde Park. It was there a fortune teller told him he was both creative and logical, which John believes he is. This was one of the reasons he was such a good comedian. John wanted to find a passage about Latin and math in his book and told Howard “Why don’t you say something while I try and find it?” Howard started to tell as story and was interrupted by John, “I’ve found it, you can shut up now.” John pointed out the cheap joke at his friend’s expense and of course let him finish his story.

John tried to explain comedy. Comedy is not appropriate comes down to 1) when something goes wrong or 2) when someone acts out of character.

He talked about religion and how weird a pope would appear to Christ with the fancy robes and hat. He discussed a character that did not get into Python, Vice Pope Eric who understood that when you teach a gospel of poverty, humility and penitence, you need a very rich and powerful organization to do it. He ended this talk of religion with the notion “An idea is not responsible for the people who hold it.”

The Michael Palin Prank
I got a call asking if Michael Palin and I would do something. Michael was doing one of his [big yawn] travel shows in Finland. I knew where he was staying and I called asking for him. While I waited for Michael to answer, I realized he had no idea where the caller was or who was calling so when Michael answered I said:
John [doing Finnish accent]: Hello? Is this Michael Palin?
Michael Palin: Yes
John: I Jorgen Svenhurst from the Finnish bureau of television and was wondering if I could interview you.
Michael told me that he was on a very busy schedule and that he was leaving in the morning and would not be able to do an interview tomorrow.
John: Oh, it is not for tomorrow. It is for today.
Michael: I’m sorry?
John: Yes, we are down in the lobby right now with a television crew. Would you please come down for an interview?
Michael explained how he was in his pajamas and not able to do so but I pressed on.
John: The Finnish viewers will take your dress as a sign of respect. They like pajamas.
Michael had finally had enough and refused throwing in some terse words
John: Oh please, it is for a program about one of the greatest comedians that has ever lived: Mr John Cleese [And John stops doing the Finnish accent and uses his real voice] and as one of his helpers we would like to hear what you have to say about him.
Michael laughed for two whole minutes.

One of John’s big regrets was not pranking Michael when he could have. When Michael was doing his [big yawn] Around the World in 80 days, John worked it out with the producer to prank Michael. John would to go the last stop, Singapore, and when Michael was filming he would walk across the background. He would then walk back in frame, look at the camera and come up to Michael. He would then tell him he was doing a program called Around the World in 79 days!

John was asked if he knew Douglas Adams and said not really but mentioned the second time he met him (which was shortly after the first) Douglas wore 4-inch risers and towered over John. Hammond added a story of when John and his wife lived in Burbank his wife had issues with her computer and when Hammond couldn’t figure it out she said, “who knows about computers? Douglas Adams!” And she called up Douglas Adams to fix her computer.

On the Python reunion he talked about how the Gumby sketch was axed in rehersals because everyone thought it was funny. During the third O2 show Eddie Izzard who did some onstage work with them had cut his head or ear and was bleeding profusely. John had spotted him while in the middle of a sketch and totally flubbed his lines. Afterwards he apologized to Eddie and was told that the mistakes made it better. Everyone watching knows the sketches much better than any of the Pythons and getting them right or wrong didn’t matter. He realized the shows were a way of fans saying thanks to them. John then decided he would, not necessarily intentionally, but intentionally mess up. Terry Jones had issues remembering all the horrible things to be said in the “Crunchy Frog” sketch and had a list in the box he could read. On one night, John took the list and read them for him. At the Tivoli, John proceeded to rattle them all off without issue.

John talked about the Daily Mail and their long standing hatred of him. For the release of “So, Anyway…” they attacked his book but got a professor to do it to lend credence. Researching the reviewer, John discovered he was a professor of criminology at Birmingham College which was until recently a polytechnic. The reviewer said it was too “self involved” but his daughter loved that because self-invloved is what an autobiography should be.

A question about comedy had the response that audiences will tell you if you’re funny, though some places are more difficult than others. He talked about how comedians steal. In art, one is influenced, but in comedy, you steal.

John talked about meeting the Dalai Lama and why he’s always laughing. Laughter allows you to be open to new ideas. It allows you to relax. You cannot be tense or fearful when laughing.

John talked about the origins of Fawlty Towers which was a hotel in New Zealand(? wherever) run by a very small man who, unlike Basil Fawlty, was angry all the time. He was clearly of the opinion that he could run this hotel properly if it weren’t for the guests. John noted this small man was henpecked by his very large wife and that dynamic went into Fawlty Towers. When John revealed the source, after the man retired, the Daily Mail in their effort to attack John, searched out this manager and asked him about the show. The man refused to talk to them but the tracked down his daughter and showed her Fawlty Towers to which she said, “that’s my dad.”

John was asked what his Spirit Animal would be which sent murmurs through the crowd, perhaps in anticipation of John verbally attacking the questioner, but he pondered it for a comedically long time and then answered “Lemurs” as he had a species of Lemur named after him. He then promptly changed his answer to “stuffed animals” because he and his wife were the only people he knew who both obsessed over stuffed animals. John found them wonderful and comical leading me to believe he was referring to the carnival prize type of stuffed animal and not the taxidermy stuffed animal.

He talked about the Holy Grail. How there was only so much hot water in the hotels and how everyone would rush back because only a few people could get warm baths after a day of shooting. He also told a story of how Terry Gilliam, who had only directed little pieces of paper at this point, was perhaps a bit too big for his director’s hat in one instance where Michael Palin had to eat prop mud which was edible but still tasted horrible. Terry would call cut almost immediately after Michael ate the mud and eventually Michael refused, yelling at cursing at Terry.

John ended the night with he and Hammond reading a sketch which was written by John and Graham Chapman and John felt was the precursor to Python. He left to a standing ovation but the Tivoli would then be playing Holy Grail for anyone who stayed. I didn’t.

It was still cold outside and you know how I mentioned I parked on the other side of the tracks? A freight train just started to cross as I reached the tracks and I stood out there for a good five (maybe more?) minutes.

November 9th, 2014

BIG HERO 6

Big Hero 6 lives up to the hype. Hiro (Ryan Potter,) a 13-year-old orphan genius, has wasted what has existed of his short life hustling his way through underground “Robot Wars” similar to dog fights. His older brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney,) went to school and is using his robotics knowledge to try and help people. Hiro and Tadashi live with their Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph) in San Fran Tokyo (it looks just like it sounds which is exactly how you think it would) with no real explanation of what happened to their parents except they died 10 years ago.

BIG HERO 6

One day Tadashi takes Hiro to his school lab and introduces him to his fellow engineers. There’s Go Go (Jaime Chung) who is designing magnetic axels for frictionless wheels, Wasabi (Damon Wayans) who has created plasma filaments that can cut through anything, Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) who seems to be working on some scientific form of alchemy (transforming elements into other elements) but I really didn’t catch that part and finally Fred (T. J. Miller,) who is a skater-dude with no scientific knowledge hoping one of the others will give him super powers. Hiro also meets Robert Callaghan (Robert Cromwell) one of the fathers of modern robotics who Tadashi studies under. Finally Tadashi shows Hiro is project, Baymax (Scott Adsit,) a hugable, medical robot, and changes Hiro’s life forever. Hiro now wants to go to school. To get in he designs something for a special science fair: micro-bots, which are controlled by thought via a neural headband. Hiro’s idea is so revolutionary he is accepted into school immediately but not before rejecting a direct offer from Alistair Krei (Alan Tudyk,) a rich but unscrupulous businessman who cuts corners for profit over safety.

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Is that a lot? Kinda sounds like it but the thing is you really only need to know Hiro, Tadashi and Baymax. Everyone gets their moment to shine but initially the movie doesn’t spend a lot of time on the others. The story is about the two brothers and Baymax. Baymax is a delight. Hiro ends up teaching him and falling in love with him, similar to how John Connor used the Terminator as a surrogate father. A recurring theme between them is the fist bump: a hand slap one way continuing through, followed by a reverse slap, then fist bump, finally throwing the hand up in the air and making an explosion sound. Baymax can not produce the explosion sound and instead generates a booble-ooble-oop-ish noise to great comic effect.

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There is a lot more to the movie. The science group eventually forms a super hero team, much to Fred’s delight, and they fight a mysterious man in a kabuki mask who controls billions (maybe more? a lot) of Hiro’s mirco-bots. Who is this man? How did the others get together to form a team? Strangely it’s not really relevant. I’ve deliberately left out a big plot changing point that serves as the focus for the film and is how the emotional bonds between Tadashi, Hiro and Baymax are developed. Those emotional bonds and how Hiro grows from them are the real story but there are some fun actions scenes and well done animation that accompanies them.

November 4th, 2014

I’m often amazed anyone can produce anything worthwhile out of NaNoWrimo but I think it helps the creative process. The artificial deadline, the need to produce X amount of words has already gotten my brain in problem solving mode and I’ve come up with (what I feel) are clever ways to expand and explain certain things. You come up with motivations which make your story more cohesive. I’ll say it. Anything makes my story more cohesive.

No. You will never read it.

Committing to WriMoing is an effort though. This week I am up in Schaumburg training. When I usually do this in the summer I end up hitting up some old work buddies and some old haunts. Today it was dark by 5 pm and the days are getting shorter. I kinda want to do stuff but I also want to write. Tomorrow I have the non-drink and draw at Rick’s. I think I’ll have built up enough of a cushion that I can do it but I also need to devote some time to finishing a print I promised Pat and I work better alone and away from prying eyes so we’ll see.

Again, you will never read it.

Today was the first time in a long time I did not vote in an actual election. I didn’t vote early and training was out of the way enough to keep me from doing it today. However I am thankful I will no longer be subjected to negative campaign ads.

November 2nd, 2014

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and for the past 3 years I have participated. The first year, in blind stupidity, I powered through the whole thing and finished. It’s not very good. The second year, I had more of a conceptual piece but did not even come close to finishing. I’ve started and we will see this year. I’m going back to what I know and writing more of a linear adventure.

I am attempting to write a fantasy novel currently titled “The Spear of Night.” I’m hoping to use what I call “Dan Brown chapter endings” to motivate me to write. “Dan Brown Chapter Endings” are cliffhanger endings. They go something like this:

Jack opened the box to see an LED counter. It read
05
04
03
“Oh no,” was the last thing Jack said.

End of chapter but then the next chapter follows a different person and that person’s chapter ends similarly.

Cynthia realized she had to get this information to Jack. She tore the page out from the book but turned to see Raphael holding a bloody dagger. He stood between her and the only exit. He advanced upon her and she had no way out.

End of chapter. We might even follow a third group. The main characters always survive but each chapter ends with a new cliffhanger. Jacks bomb is not an explosion but instead releases a chemical agent that poisons him, putting him on a specific timetable. And so on. Dan Brown did not invent the format but he uses it religiously and currently he’s the most famous. James Rollins is one of many authors who uses the format just as much and he has at least one book out each year but usually two. I think I first understood it being used by Robert Jordan or Terry Brooks more than 20 years ago.

At some point I plan to write a sequence of chapter endings and then see if I can write my way in and out of them. I have seven tasks (items? quests?) that may expand to 13 if I run out of things to write but it’s early.

I also saw RiffTrax: Anaconda last Thursday and it was pretty good but not their best effort. This may be a weird movie month with NaNo going on but I’ve got Big Hero 6, Interstellar and Hunger Games 3.1 coming out that I really want to see with a decent range of indy stuff like Open Windows, Foxcatcher and The Imitation Game being released this month as well. I somehow ended hosting book club again too.

October 26th, 2014

2157c1a0-50cb-11e4-bb89-b18bf4a57919_john-wick-new

If you’re going to John Wick for any reason other than fighting or action then you’re not going to get what you want. John Wick is a very basic film but it does what it does very well. And that’s action scenes. Even Keanu detractors have little to work with here as John says very little throughout.

Directed by two former stuntmen, one of which was Keanu’s double in the Matrix, these two know how to shoot a fight scene. They may not know how to shoot anything else but in this case it really doesn’t matter as there are no other scenes. Alright, there really are but they only server to link the fighting scenes. The story is this. John Wick (Keanu Reaves) used to be a hitman working for Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyquist.) He was so good, they called him Babayaga which the movie translated as “boogeyman.” Viggo’s son, Iosef (Alfie Allen,) steals John’s car and kills his dog, a puppy given to him by his deceased wife so he wouldn’t have to grieve her death alone. This doesn’t bode well with John and only knowing killing, decides he’s going to kill Iosef. Even though Iosef is a spoiled idiot (most gangster sons in films seem to be this way) he’s Viggo’s son and has to be protected. Family.

Adrianne-Palicki

There are a few other characters. Two hitmen of note are Marcus (Willem Dafoe,) a former friend of John’s who the viewer unsure of whose side he’s on initially and Perkins (Adrianne Palicki) whose intentions are very clear. There’s also Avi (Dean Winters) who is only mentioned here because he’s Mayhem in the Allstate commercials and I really wanted him to say “mayhem” at some point. Alas, he did not. (There were ways where it would have really been appropriate but I’m sure he doesn’t want to be typecast as that guy.)

John kills lots of people trying to get to Iosef and it’s all done stylishly, like old school, Hong Kong John Woo films. Keanu’s acting is the same as it always is but it really works here. It comes across as deadpan and sometimes is even pretty funny. Nyquist gets to flex his almost muscles a bit almost channeling Peter Stomare. Almost. But it works as he’s the driving force. The hero is only as good as his villain and Viggo is a fun villain. For what it’s worth, the little bit of world building the film does is very effective with “dinner reservations” and how everything is paid with special gold coins to the hotel with nightclub just for hitmen where they can go to relax without fear as no work is allowed on the premises.

johnwick-reeves-church

It’s a fun action film and worth seeing.

October 12th, 2014

DraculaUntold

Let’s lay all the cards out on the table. The Bears had a late start and I had a free ticket at Regal 17 due to expire October 21st. Yes, I could have used it on Boxtrolls or The Equalizer but Dracula opened this week, started earlier and was shorter than the other films so it won.

Now going in Dracula Untold had me intrigued. It had a 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an A- Cinemascore. The only way I could reconcile those was the movie was so bad it was good (and those movies are amazing) but none of the reviews suggested this. And this was not the case. The film isn’t horrible but there’s nothing to give it a good review either. Very ho-hum, middle of the road. It’s kind of the opposite of The Lego Movie. That movie was good but not good enough for a 96% tomatometer. But there wasn’t enough bad for anyone to give it a bad review.

The movie tells the origin of Dracula (Luke Evans) tying him to Vlad Tepes, who Stoker used as the source of the original Dracula story. Vlad is Transylvanian and that country was beholden to the Turkish Empire. As a child Vlad was delivered to the Turks as part of a tribute of 1000 boys who would serve in the Turkish army. Vlad grew to become The Impaler during these times and then returned to Transylvania to rule as Prince. Now, with a beautiful bride and child of his own, the Turks again demand a tribute of boys to serve. Vlad, leader that he is, refuses and the Turks invade. What, O what ever will Vlad do to protect his people?

There is a mountain where none return and in it resides a vampire cursed to stay there until another comes to take his power and free him. Vlad goes to this vampire and is turned, but only for three days. If he can resist drinking human blood for three days he will revert back but until then he is a vampire. Strong, fast, can turn into bats and control them. He’s also vulnerable to the sun but not religious symbols. At least not until he drinks human blood and he should have an insatiable thirst for blood but maybe he’s pretty strong willed. Oh, and silver too. I picture Colin Farrel in Fright Night (2011) after being shot by Imogen Poots saying “That’s Werewolves.” And it is but here, silver burns and in great quantities weakens him. And of course the old stake through the heart will destroy him.

Evans is a fine actor and he stands out as a loving husband and father tormented by vampirism but he’s the only one. No one else is even one dimensional. The CG is fine too. But overall nothing really stands out. It feels very by-the-numbers. There is the potential for sequels and apparently this will end up being part of a shared Universal Monster universe with creatures like Frankenstein, the Wolfman and so on. Dracula Untold was not great but I didn’t feel like I lost two hours of my life which I’ll never get back either. You don’t need to rush out and see this — you’re not missing anything.

Speaking of missing things Box Office Mojo seems to have temporarily disappeared and now seems to sorta be back.

Trailers: Interstellar, Hobbit 3, The Interview, Kingsman, Seventh Son and Blackhat. The Interview, a Franco/Rogan vehicle, looks amazing.

October 11th, 2014

This was a big week for comics.
This is what I bought:
BATMAN HC VOL 05
EAST OF WEST VOL 03
ELFQUEST ARTIST’S EDITION
GREEN ARROW VOL 05
HAWKEYE VOL 03
MASTERING COMICS
SHE-HULK VOL 01
STAR TREK: NEW VISIONS VOL 01
UNWRITTEN VOL 10

These were other things I considered and would have normally bought if I hadn’t already spent some $250 in comics already. Maybe not Ravine, Doop or Powers but certainly the other three.
ALL NEW DOOP
AMERICAS GOT POWERS
BATTLING BOY RISE OF AURORA WEST VOL 01
CAPTAIN MARVEL VOL 01
RAVINE VOL 02
X-MEN VOL 03

I had dinner with Pat and Dal on Tuesday where I got $80 of comics from them and ended up at Rick’s for the Drink and Draw (minus the drink) on Wednesday where I got $180 of comics. Granted, the Elfquest original art edition was $125 so it was hard not to spend lots. I get a discount if those numbers don’t add up and you’re wondering. I had also been invited to D&D Encounters at Game Knight on Wednesday evening when I stopped in last weekend to see if they had a copy of King of Tokyo (they did, $40) and we got talking about 5th edition and the newly released Monster Manual. I bought that for $35 at Barnes & Noble on Thursday. It was 20% off and I had another %20 coupon which was cumulative. I also bought a copy of Christopher Moore’s Sacre Blue.

I’ve also backed some games on Kickstarter. Japanese the Game, Tokyo Edition ($80, this is part two and the $80 pledge gets all seven decks), Rise of the Kage ($150) and Yashima ($105) — two miniatures-based board games.

The funny part is this is me attempting to slow down.

October 4th, 2014

gone_girl-first-look-at-david-fincher-s-gone-girl
This is how good David Fincher is. If you had told me I would like Tyler Perry in a movie I would have beat the shit out of you, raped you, and then murdered you. And yet here were are. The whole cast, including Tyler Perry, was completely wonderful in Gone Girl.

Gone Girl is adapted by Gillian Flynn from the book by Gillian Flynn. It is a movie of anger and revenge so obviously it’s really about marriage. I did not choose what I would do to you if you had told me I would like Tyler Perry in a movie lightly. There is spousal abuse, rape and murder in this film. Or is there? The thing is it’s a mystery and I can’t talk about things that matter without giving things away. So, Tyler Perry.

Gone-Girl-Movie-Trailer-Australian-Release-Date

The movie starts with Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) who goes out on the morning of his 5th anniversary (5th is wood, mind you) and returns to discover his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), missing, possibly the victim of a struggle. He calls the police who start an investigation and while Nick is initially presumed innocent, very soon everyone believes he killed his wife. Nick is a bit too slick and flirty for his own good. I mean, at the press conference he smiles next to a poster of his missing wife. Things get so bad he has to hire hotshot lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry).

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That’s the set up. The way the story unfolds it looks like Nick’s been set up by Amy. We see flashbacks of how they met and of Amy past as “Amazing Amy” a character in a series of children’s books who’s life is vastly improved on the real Amy’s. They meet, fall in love, get married and then things go bad. They both loose their writing jobs and then Nick’s mother get’s very sick and they move from New York to Missouri to be with her. She has all the money from a trust fund set up by her parents because of Amazing Amy and so she is able to lease the house and buy a bar for Nick and his sister, Go (Carrie Coon), short for Margo. Nick and Amy grow apart in the boredom of southern suburbia with very little for either of them to do. And so plots begin to formulate.

I have a very dark sense of humor and I found myself laughing a lot in the epilogue? third act? Not sure but there were things I found unbelievably funny that no one else in the theater did. If you’re interested, yes, you see the full Affleck at some point but what no one seems to have hyped is that you can also see the full NPH as well. Though if you’re squeamish you’ll miss it — box cutters are involved. I can say no more other than go see Gone Girl.

October 1st, 2014

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So my short description was that it’s a tween Resident Evil. Why? It’s an “I’ve lost my memory and discover it with the audience” premise with some monsters tossed in. That screams RE to me. Overall it was fun.

The story begins with Thomas (Dylan Obrien) being delivered on a freight elevator to a forested environment populated by boys of varying ages, all of whom have no memory. The area is surrounded by tall walls that lead into a maze. There are Maze Runners who run the mazes during the day trying to map them. The maze closes up at night and no one has survived the night in the maze. One of the runners is injured and the leader of the tribe, Alby (Aml Ameen) runs it with Minho (Ki Hong Lee), the lead Runner. They don’t make it back in time before the Maze seals up but Thomas enters the Maze at the last second to help them. They survive the night and discover things that might get them out.
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Shortly after Thomas arrives there is another elevator arrival. They’re normally monthly and they always carry a new boy and supplies for the tribe. This one is within a few days (though the passage of time is not expressed well in the film) and carries the first girl, Theresa (Kaya Scodelario), who somehow knows Thomas. There is a message with her indicating this is the last elevator shipment. There are those who think Theresa’s arrival coupled with the idea of trying to escape are bad omems which leads to a split in the tribe. Things get a little Lord of the Flies-ish and the group that wants to escape have to now try their hand at escaping both the tribe and the maze.
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Thomas was a bit too impetuous and hot headed from the get go. He arrived with no memory and instantly wanted to break every rule. Maybe we can blame it on memory loss but you think he’d want to get an understanding of what he’s facing before leaping headfirst into the unknown. Of course the tribesmen could have tried to explain things and not just say don’t do it and glower at him.
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The silliest thing was Minho’s hair. If he’s been there long enough to be lead runner, he’s been there at least a year and yet his hair is always perfectly spiked, even after a day of running. All the boys clothes seem to stay at a stylishly dirty state as well. Maybe the supplies that came with each elevator shipment included hair product and new clothes.

The movie is part of a trilogy and while the Maze Runner portion ties up well enough there is more than enough lead in for the next part.