Wednesday 23 September 2020
In order to ensure that my 45th year is happier than the year that came before it, my birthday present to myself was deleting Twitter from my phone. Now I just need to hope that 2021 is also an improvement over 2020. Maybe it will get rid of Twitter, too.
So all that and a bag of chips. By which I mean I also bought a bag of BBQ potato chips at the Little Giant grocery store down the street as a birthday treat. I'm sorry to say that it made me feel about as bad as Twitter has lately.
Note to self: don't eat a whole bag of chips in one sitting. You're not 15 anymore.
Tuesday 22 September 2020
The Miami Dolphins offered 13,000 tickets to their game on Sunday. Only ~11,000 were sold. Is that because people were scared of the pandemic, the weather, or being forced to watch the Miami Dolphins play "football"?
We all should have watched movies instead. Perhaps movies like these:
145. (1799.) The First Wives Club (1996)
Great cast, mediocre result. I'm always game for a buddy revenge comedy, but the movie lost me at the high-rise window washer scaffold misadventure, which would have been too silly for most sitcoms.
146. (1800.) The Red Shoes (1948)
Put this film in the category of movies disappointed by a bad ending. I admit that the dancing is pretty darn good, but having a real ballerina acting the part of the put-upon artist/romantic lead left an insurmountable hole at the center of the film, a flaw that was left badly exposed by the abrupt conclusion.
147. (1801.) Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964)
Frank Sinatra really loved gangsters, didn't he? His film roles are filled with bad guys with a heart of gold, such as here, where smuggling, counterfeiting, and gunfights are presented as victimless crimes. On the up side, this does A) prove that Peter Falk was a great comedic actor and B) introduce the world to "My Kind of Town." So not all bad, then.
148. (1802.) Smorgasbord (1983)
Nothing about this anthology series of loosely connected vaudeville skits *should* work, and very little of it actually does. There are a few genuine chuckles, but most of the skits are either terrible, one-note ideas or have had the comedic timing destroyed by director Jerry Lewis indulging performer Jerry Lewis's ego. (The editor is Gene Fowler, Jr, who also edited the abysmally paced It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. So he probably deserves some blame, too.)
149. (1803.) Brewster McCloud (1970)
There's no way to describe this movie without making it sound absolutely nuts, so here goes: A bird-obsessed boy living underneath the Houston Astrodome avoids sex and builds a flying machine while under investigation for a string of murders. See? Nuts. There's also no disputing the fact that I loved it! The Player is still my favorite Robert Altman-directed film, but there's a new entry at second place.
150. (1804.) Never So Few (1959)
Is being a commando soldier really any different than being a gangster? Watching Frank Sinatra in the role, the answer would appear to be no. This dawn of World War II movie's plot examining the absurdity of the Rules of War is made nearly insufferable by the shoehorned inclusion of a romance with Gina Lollobrigida.
Take it from Steve McQueen: drinking Coke makes you cool!
More to come.
Sunday 20 September 2020
Friday 18 September 2020
According to DC Comics, tomorrow is Batman Day 2020. This marks the seventh different day of the year for Batman Day in the past seven years. You'd think from the 365 available, they could find one a date that didn't already have a holiday. As everyone knows, September 19 is always International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Put the two events together, and there's only one way to celebrate. With a...
from Detective Comics Annual #7 (1994)
Wednesday 16 September 2020
In late 2011, DC transitioned to "The New 52," a publishing initiative intended to attract new readers to comics by reimagining the DC Comics universe of characters for 21st-century audiences. In that regard, it was a big success. New readers did flock to DC's titles, but at the cost of many longtime readers who had supported the publisher for decades and now felt betrayed. When the new readers moved on to the next fad, DC was left without any readers at all.
Four-and-a-half years later, in 2016, the company predictably responded to the failures of the New 52 with a return to the characters and stories the New 52 had discarded. They called this event "Rebirth," and it was in some ways good and in other ways more of the same poorly thought-out, short-term behavior that had doomed the New 52. For example, it was promoted from the beginning that the famously enigmatic Batman villain Joker would finally get an origin story. Fans loved that idea, so, naturally DC didn't follow through on it for four more years as they instead focused on revisiting stores from the 1980s. And they wonder why their market share keeps shrinking.
Which brings us to the year 2020 and The Three Jokers, its name alone an overt reference to the self-inflicted damage that decades of navel-gazing reboots have done to what passes for history in the lives of DC superheros like Batman. As so much else from DC these days, the story of The Three Jokers is woven around some of the biggest Joker stories ever told, most of them more than thirty years old.
Why should any young reader be interested in returning yet again to stories written when their fathers were children? Why should their fathers buy the same old story a third, fourth, or fifth time? Nostalgia is a game of diminishing returns, and all this navel gazing only continues to alienate readers already concerned that DC has nothing new to offer in exchange for the $5 cover price cost of a modern comic book.
Clearly DC learned the wrongest of lessons from their New 52 debacle a decade ago and have reverted to repeating the same mistakes that got them into that mess to begin with. Something tells me that if the Joker was a real person, he'd get a kick out of that.
This page was published in 2010. The more things change....
Monday 14 September 2020
I've only finished 3 movies so far in September, but maybe that's because I watched 25 in August. I should probably get a start on reviewing that backlog, so here goes.
139. (1793.) Winchester '73 (1950)
An anthology Western movie loosely organized around a rifle that keeps getting passed around. Jimmy Stewart is the star, but the cast also includes Rock Hudson, Shelley Winters, and Tony Curtis among others. Very good.
140. (1794.) You Were Never Lovelier (1942)
The Taming of the Shrew is the basis for the plot in this Fred Astaire/Rita Hayworth musical comedy. Astaire plays his usual manipulative skirt-chasing character, but Hayworth is the highlight.
141. (1795.) Hit the Deck (1955)
This film is a mess. It feels like the studio (MGM) had a bunch of stars they wanted to stick in the same movie, so they had someone write something where the sole criteria was "get all these people on screen." Debbie Reynolds is a good example; her character serves no role in the plot other than giving an excuse to get "Debbie Reynolds" on the marquee. The fruit salad of movies.
144. (1798.) Game Night (2018)
This sort of misadventure comedy — sibling jealously and a series of coincidences lead to a life-or-death situation milked for laughs — is the bread and butter of Jason Bateman's career, but Rachel McAdams is the star player. (She never disappoints.) I enjoyed it, especially the scene with the $17 bribe.
142. (1796.) Thirty Day Princess (1934)
Someone else who never disappoints is Preston Sturges, who wrote but did not direct this permutation of the premise of The Prince and the Pauper. I enjoyed it, too.
143. (1797.) Sabotage (1936)
As much as I like Preston Sturges movies, I love Alfred Hitchcock's work. I think I've often quoted his "if you show the crowd the bomb, you can't let that bomb go off" philosophy, which was very clearly a revelation he came to *after* making this movie. Very watchable and far less predictable than I would have expected.
Coca-Cola in 1938 London! What, what?
Many more to come.
Saturday 12 September 2020
Clarke County, Georgia, home to a particular Classic City, has seen their overall number of COVID-19 cases double for three straight weeks. In their infinite wisdom, the Powers That Be at the University of Georgia have responded to that news... by deciding to allow tailgating at UGA football games. Ye gods.
In similar news closer to home, Newnan High School had to cancel a football game this past weekend because the team they were scheduled to play — from the next county over — came down with COVID-19 cases on their team. Newnan promises to refund all ticket sales. Eventually.
So far, no one I am aware of has died as a consequence of getting COVID at a football game, but football season has just started. If we get to December and that number is still zero, I'll be happy to say that I am a panicky little Chicken Little who has badly overreacted to some unprecedented circumstances.
In the meantime, the total COVID-19 death toll for the United States through the first eight months of 2020 stands just under 200k with that number expected to double by the end of the year. Rah, rah! Exponential growth.
Are you ready for some football?
Thursday 10 September 2020
Tuesday 8 September 2020
The following strip is as on-the-nose today as it was when the fantastically talented Coleen Coover created it in 2010 — because Batman is timeless.
Sunday 6 September 2020
In the Before Times, tomorrow would have been the opening day of the Georgia football season (vs Virginia at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game).
That's not happening now. If Georgia does manage to have a football season, it won't start until September 26.
In honor of the COVID-19 modified 2020 season, I present my latest lawn ornament: On Ice.
Uga is always cool.
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