Wednesday 8 July 2020
I started June on a terrific pace of movies, but then I got sidetracked by six seasons of Downton Abbey. (So good. Wouldn't it be nice if your biggest problem in life was making sure you were drinking from the correct glass at dinner?)
102. (1756.) Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary (2019)
When I told my father I watched this film about the making and legacy of another film, he said "Documentaries don't count as movies!" I think he's wrong. Like other feature films, the best documentaries tell complete stories using the language of cinema. The stories in documentaries just happen to be real. If you like GalaxyQuest or sci-fi fandom in general, I think you'll enjoy this.
103. (1757.) Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)
This is what Dad and I watched together instead. I'm not going to call it great cinema, but for a movie aimed at kids, it's delightfully self-aware of what what it is and how it came to be. The old man and I enjoyed ourselves.
104. (1758.) Flower Shop Mystery: Snipped in the Bud (2016)
Mom had read this book and revealed the whodunnit aspect as soon as the killer made his first appearance. When you know where these Hallmark mysteries are going, the inevitable romantic subplot has to carry so much more weight than they can stand. I'm sorry, Brooke Shields, but I'm just not buying you as a flighty former lawyer-turned-flowershop girl dating the former cop-turned-bartender next door.
105. (1759.) Chef (2014)
I'm sure every movie critic has already compared this film to food, so I'll just say... it's okay. Jon Favreau wrote and directed the thin story of a man rediscovering his roots through food, so it must have meant a lot to him even if that deeper meaning isn't reflected in the finished product. (The highlights are the cameos by other actors Favreau has worked with in other projects. In particular, Downey Jr. steals his only scene.)
The first half of the film observes the downfall of the protagonist chef and is utterly devoid of delicious soda pop. But when things start to turn around and everyone is having a good time...
Things Go Better With Coke!
106. (1760.) Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
Better John J. Rambo should have been killed by a hail of police gunfire in Hope, Washington, in First Blood than live to make this gory and pointless piece of murder-porn.
More to come.
Monday 6 July 2020
It's election season, and the television is flooded with campaign ads.
I have repeatedly seen an advertisement for Kelley Loeffler's reelection campaign for her U.S. Senate seat in which a young black man extols her virtues not as an embarrassingly rich owner of a sports franchise and a stock exchange but as someone sympathetic to those less fortunate than her. Yet her supporter mispronounces her name throughout the whole commercial. (He says "loff-ler", yet she appears at the end of the commercial pronouncing her own name "leff-ler," almost like she is passive-aggressively correcting him after the fact.) Why would the Loeffler campaign air that? Could they not find a single person who could praise her who actually knew who she was?
Another advertisement for current president Donald Trump's reelection campaign claims that if former vice president Joe Biden wins the election, the United States will go to shit. What condition are we in now? Uncontrolled pandemic, record unemployment, race riots, oh, my! If this shit show is the current administration's idea of greatness, I'll take anyone else, please.
I suppose it's some small comfort that Marjorie Greene isn't adverting over the air in the Metro Atlanta market in her run for the state House of Representatives. Greene has become infamous as a candidate so openly racist that state Republicans have widely disavowed her, which takes some doing considering that the current Republican governor ran on a platform of successfully befouling state citizens' ability to vote. Even Facebook has said Greene has gone too far in her most recent gun-toting ads. When you're too far afield for Facebook, it's time to stop auditioning for a government seat and start looking into some professional mental help.
That said, there's nothing new to watch between those campaign commercials anyway, so maybe I should just leave my television off until December. Being too aware of who's making the decisions that impact my life is bad for my own mental health.
Saturday 4 July 2020
from Justice League of America #113 (1974)
Thing 1: The Freedom Train was a real thing designed to unite America against the dawning Cold War. Ironically, the train was forced to bypass several cities because they refused to allow black and white people on the train at the same time. (In this comic, the train will be hijacked by the villainous Wizard, who only wants it to prove to his Injustice League pals that he's good at stealing trains.)
Thing 2: That's some weird perspective in the second panel. John Adams was 5 feet 7 inches tall. Thomas Jefferson was 6' 2". Adams must have been standing on his soap box.
Thing 3: It's funny to think that the self-righteous John Adams is just being a dick, but the "improvement" he's talking about is the phrase "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence," which was added after that first comma as one of many revisions the Continental Congress made to the declaration draft that Thomas Jefferson unveiled on June 28, 1776.
The daily minutes of the first Continental Congress for June 28-July 4 do not indicate who was responsible for adding the phrase. Popular opinion points to New Jersey delegate John Witherspoon, the only clergyman to sign the Declaration. Witherspoon was at the time the president of Princeton, and just before joining the Congress, he made a big splash with a sermon titled "The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men." The movie 1776 gives him credit, which is good enough for me.
For the record, since this seems to be that kind of year, Witherspoon owned slaves. So did both good ol' Tom Jefferson (who often took his to bed) and, believe it or not, Benjamin Franklin (who did eventually change his mind and argue for universal emancipation). Of the four Founding Fathers mentioned in this post, the only one who never owned slaves was the self-righteous dick, John Adams. Give 'em hell, Johnny!
Thursday 2 July 2020
Tuesday 30 June 2020
Sunday 28 June 2020
How did Superman get strong enough to break those chains?
Superman #5, June 1940
By drinking straight from the cow, obviously.
Friday 26 June 2020
I revised the scripts here on the back end at Wriphe.com, and I've made it harder to see my lists of movies. Stupid, stupid Walter.
96. (1750.) The Shape of Water (2017)
I suspect this must have won Best Picture because it looks so damn good. The story is so simple that it's almost impossible to describe without giving it all away. If you ever hear anyone tell you that they thought Inception was too complicated to understand but they sure liked the trippy visuals, point them towards this.
97. (1751.) The Lost City of Cecil B. Demille (2017)
This documentary is about one man's quest to uncover the set of Cecil B. Demille's 1923 The Ten Commandments buried in the California desert. There's not a ton of drama, but I found the Hollywood history and giant statuary very interesting.
98. (1752.) Hotel Artemis (2018)
Jodie Foster kills it in her lead role in this badly underwritten action film. Really, she's way too good for this. But so was the rest of the cast. Not a total waste of 90 minutes, but hardly a classic.
99. (1753.) A Kiss Before Dying (1956)
When Robert Wagner tires of his partner, he kills her and frames the death to look like an accident. That's the plot of this 1956 movie. Seriously.
100. (1754.) Sex Kittens Go to College (1960)
No, I still don't think I can differentiate Mamie Van Doren from Jayne Mansfield, but I'm not sure I'm supposed to. Here she plays a stripper-turned-genius who Adam-12's Martin Milner falls for. But the best part of this is the on-screen role for Elektro, Westinghouse's walking, talking robot from the 1939 World's Fair. Maybe I'm a nerd, but I think the robot is far more interesting than anything else in this sex farce.
101. (1755.) The Human Comedy (1943)
What's funny about humans? Apparently, it's that we happily go to war when we have to, or at least that's the point this World War morale booster tries to make. I found it charming, mostly for the anthology slice-of-life presentation of a time gone by. But we still drink Coke!
Yes, that's Li'l Rascal Alfalfa at the center screen. He plays the bully. What range!
More to come.
Wednesday 24 June 2020
On May 29, I decided I couldn't put off buying a new chair for my computer desk any longer. I'd broken the wooden chair I'd been using. The last two wooden chairs, I'd used, in fact. What can I say? I sit a lot.
Research was done online. (You may have heard that there's a pandemic on, and I didn't want to visit any showroom and sit in potentially infected chairs.) The purchase was done online, too. I ultimately placed a $200 order via Amazon.com. The seller — who was not Amazon because Amazon doesn't actually sell anything itself anymore — said I should expect it between June 8 and June 11. It did not arrive by June 8. It did not arrive by June 11, either.
On June 12, I finally looked into the FedEx shipping system to discover that the package had arrived in their Georgia distribution center on June 4. It must have liked it there, because it didn't move again.
On June 14, I called FedEx, and the customer service representative took one look at his computer screen and told me that "anything that hasn't moved in that long we consider a lost package." But he couldn't help me find it. Instead, he recommended that I get in touch with the shipper so that the shipper could file a claim. The shipper told me they'd get back to me once they'd looked into it.
On June 18, no one had gotten back to me, but Amazon.com's algorithms finally allowed me to request a refund on an undelivered product. So I did.
On June 20, I got my refund. Now I have my money back, but I'm still sitting in a broken chair. Since Mom had already planned an outing to Costco on June 24, I figured I'd bring home whatever they had available. At this point, I'm willing to sit on just about anything.
On June 24, when I woke up, an email was waiting for me from FedEx. They say the chair had been found and would be delivered to my house. Hooray! I was finally going to get the chair I ordered. I don't know why they were sending it to me after all this time, especially if they had already given money back to the seller, but if it was going to show up at last, I figured I'd accept it and settle up with the seller later. So I went to Costco and didn't buy a chair.
And when I got home, I got an email from FedEx saying that delivery had been delayed. It'll be there on June 25 now, they promise.
That's what I get. I'm going back to Costco tomorrow, and I'm coming home with a chair. If FedEx delivers another, so be it. As the old adage tells us: Two chairs are better than none.
On June 25, the chair was delivered before I could get to Costco. The box was in very bad shape, but the contents seemed well enough. So I assembled it and didn't buy a chair from Costco. But since the chair was finally delivered, I decided that I return my refunded payment to the seller. That proved to be another ordeal.
Long story short, as of July 2, the seller is paid (somewhat slightly less than the original amount), and I have a chair. The new moral here is that patience is a virtue, even when it can be hard to stand for.
Monday 22 June 2020
Your annual piece of Clark Kent trivia: his glasses are indestructible.
Adventure Comics #304, January 1963
Last year we learned that Clark Kent hides his fireproof shirt and shoes in a pouch in his indestructible cape when he becomes Superman. Now we know how his glasses survive that process.
Next year: how does Superman get a haircut?
Adventure Comics #305, February 1963
Saturday 20 June 2020