I just had a pollen-induced nose bleed that consumed an inordinate amount of my toilet paper supply. Tick the Doomsday Clock one second closer to midnight.
I watched most of these in the Before Times, so my memory of them may be skewed by the fact that was back before the world ended and I could afford to be selective about what I watched.
36. (1690.) Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
Oh, so close to being a great movie! It has many of the same elements that would make Rocky Horror Picture Show a success a few years later: good music, literary underpinnings, a pop culture-infused storyline about good and evil and free will and rock and roll... but somehow it all fails to gel here. I can't put my finger on why, exactly, it just feels under baked. (I much appreciated the homages to German Expressionism cinema. Too bad it didn't stick the landing.)
37. (1691.) The House (2017)
Rewatching Zoolander recently, I was reminded of how much more enjoyable Will Ferrell's antics are when in a supporting instead of a leading role. For example, having Amy Pohler and a great stock of comic actors really helps here, injecting a lot of welcome silliness into a light dark comedy.
39. (1693.) The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
The obvious inspiration for most of Disney's Aladdin. It's a lot of fun, including the badly outdated special effects for the genie.
40. (1694.) Mechanic: Resurrection (2016)
Awful, just awful. If this is what Jason Statham has been reduced to, someone please put him out of his misery.
41. (1695.) Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)
Not the strongest entry in this series, but that plays into the film's theme of the comfort of old friends in need of moving on to new horizons. Lean in!
42. (1696.) White Lightning (1973)
The 1970s sure were obsessed with hillbilly action films.
More to come.
So, when I took down my Santa Claus decoration for Christmas, I left two anchoring poles embedded in the front yard. Rather than let me pull them out, Mother insisted that I create more decorations for other holidays.
Turns out, I've got nothing else to do.
Introducing my Easter Bunny:
Here's another beside the front door for better scale.
I'm already working on the next piece. (I had to brave a trip to Michael's, where only 10 customers are allowed inside at a time, to pick up some blue paint.) I'll show it off when I get closer to July.
Anyway, a little holiday appropriate fooling around with Weird Al.
And a YouTube link, in case you don't see the embed above.
Hmm. I have his version of Peter and the Wolf around here somewhere. Oh, there it is.
Al and I go way back. I first heard In 3-D — still my favorite Al-bum — while at summer day camp at Stone Mountain Park. (Which may be why "Nature Trail To Hell" remains one of my favorite tracks.) My brother gave me "Weird Al" Yankovic, his debut album, as a present in 1985. (I suspect that Mom and/or Dad actually bought it, probably at the Turtle's on Memorial Drive.) Polka Party came to me as a 11th birthday present at Six Flags Over Georgia. (It is the only thing I remember about that party, and possibly the only good experience I associate with that park.) And I spent weekends in 1989 recording lip-syncing videos to the UHF soundtrack. (I've written about my love for UHF before.)
My brother worked for a Hollywood agent for a few years after college in the 20-aughts, and the only celebrity that he met that made me star struck about was Weird Al. Trey bumped into in line at the post office. Trey had very nice things to say about both David Duchovny and Allison Janney, but that Weird Al goes to the post office himself makes him a bigger star in my book.
Keep on being weird, Al.
Plague Sequestration Update, Stardate 97840.49:
I finally had to replace the roll of toilet paper in my bathroom. That was the first time I had to do that since this COVID-19 sequestration began.
I still have 9 rolls in the closet. By my reckoning, I won't need to plan a heist from my local McDonald's men's room until the first week of August.
The calendar has been marked.
Jacob stood in the deserted street and looked up at the large, faded sign.
He had been sent to live with his aunt in Wyoming when the outbreak had started. It was for his own safety, his parents had said. What with the riots and looting and hand-sanitizer made by state prisoners, not to mention the virus itself, the city was just too dangerous.
We'll be back for you just as soon as the shelter-in-place order is lifted, said his mother from behind her n-95 respirator mask. His father gave him a comic book, one of the last printed before the country's last comics distributor had shut down. Then his parents had fist-bumped him goodbye and driven away.
His aunt died from the virus two weeks later. (If only they'd tested her!)
Faced with the dreary fate of slowly starving until he was reduced to eating his aunt's massive, unused toilet paper stockpile, Jacob made the only decision he could. He carefully wrapped his few precious possessions in a hobo bindle and set out on foot.
It was a harrowing journey. The wasteland was a wild and unforgiving place filled with roving gangs of self-driving Teslas fighting over solar energy charging stations. At night, Jacob struggled to sleep under a brilliant sky filled with the reflected glow from SpaceX's Starlink satellites.
It took nearly a month and all of Jacob’s determination, but he finally made it to a place where he wouldn't have to grow up, a neverland without end. The sign in front of him said it all. "TOYS R US."
Jacob couldn't wait to see what wonders lay behind the darkened windows. He made camp in the lonely parking lot and waited for the first employee of the day to come and unlock paradise.
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There's been not much else to do lately other than watch movies.
27. (1681.) Naughty Marietta (1935)
In this musical romantic comedy in the vein of Taming of the Shew, opera-singing Marietta (not her real name) is "naughty" in the same sense as a headstrong child, not a burlesque dancer. I only figured that out once I realized they were all singing that high-falutin' opera stuff. (Opera fans don't care for titties.)
29. (1683.) Girls Trip (2017)
Stealing every scene and delivering all the laughs, Tiffany Haddish deserves her status as breakout star in this, an otherwise unremarkable raunchy sex comedy. Which is not to say that it's bad. Raunchy sex comedies by their very nature aren't trying to break new ground in cinema. The genre is dependable comfort food, much like Coca-Cola for the eyes.
What's that, you say? You think a disposable cup in a street scene isn't intentional product placement? Ok, fine. How about this?
30. (1684.) Pygmalion (1938)
Once upon a time, my father, discovering I hadn't seen My Fair Lady, said, "Aw, just tell everyone it's a remake of Pygmalion." Now that I've finally seen Pygmalion, holy shit. It's exactly the same film, minus the songs. I always thought Rex Harrison was a dick in My Fair Lady, but that's not his fault; it's the part. Sorry, Rex.
31. (1685.) Manhattan (1979)
An utterly beautiful movie better watched with the sound off. Woody Allen goes out of his way to make his own life miserable in almost all of his movies, and he doubles down here, dating a child and sleeping with his best friend's mistress. Yeah, that's going to end well.
32. (1686.) The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017)
I suspect that the reason Ryan Reynolds' roguish charm works in this film is due in no small part to Samuel Jackson doing his best to one-up him. They seem like they're having fun, and that's often infectious for the audience.
34. (1688.) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
While I really appreciated the cynical comedy in this, it's the ending that really sticks with you. Is this a Shakespearean comedy, or a tragedy cut off just before the fine act? A good conversation piece.
More to come.
An editorial cartoon in the newspaper got me to thinking about how Superman would handle something like the COVID-19 outbreak. In the cartoon, he was staying home to prevent the further spread of the disease. That's cute, but it's frankly a waste of Superman's power. No one who can hold his breath indefinitely as he flies through the Sun to disinfect himself needs to worry about a shortage of Purell.
Ironically enough, a plague was among the problems that Superman 2020 had to deal with in the far flung future of... 2021.
Remember Superman 2020, aka Superman III? He's Superman's grandson, the son of the son of Superman. We last discussed his adventures, written at the dawn of the 1980s, in January. (You know, way back when the threat to the world was white supremacy. Damn. What's it going to be by July? My bet is on Godzilla.)
Anyway, at the end of his first year in action, Superman was confronted with an uncomfortably familiar danger when the doors of the closed city of New Metropolis were opened on New Year's Day 2021, and everyone in the city was found dead.
I did mention this was written in 1982, right? Legionnaires Disease was discovered in an outbreak in 1976 which killed 15% of the original cases. Thirteen thousand cases are diagnosed per year in the US, and modern techniques have squeezed that fatality rate down to about 10%. (For comparison, COVID-19 is still killing under 2% by most reckoning, though it has infected over 26,900 Americans in the past three months alone.)
Maldavia did indeed have a 21st-century outbreak of flu that shut down the country and killed 6% of those infected, though that was in 2017, not 2014. Still, I'd say that's close enough that Nostradamus would have gotten credit for the prediction.
Remember those white supremacists I was speaking of earlier? Superman made about as much progress defeating them as Spike Lee did. When the hero arrives to help the panicked population, those dicks were quick to rush to social media to throw blame. (Life imitating art, or the other way 'round?)
Hey, if he were really at fault, I'm sure the authorities would have called it the "Superman Virus" in public addresses instead of referring to it by its scientific name. Because authorities have a responsibility not to mislead the public. Or so I've heard.
It turns out that Superman isn't the cause of the virus but the solution. Using his aforementioned super-breath, he distributes the cure throughout Metropolis' atmosphere, causing it to literally rain medicine.
It only took Superman eight pages to thwart a plague and save the world, proving that you can save everyone without a single test kit so long as you have one Man of Steel. My hero.