I've recently run across the Campaign to End Loneliness.
At first I thought it was kind of a crazy idea... I like being alone most of the time. What's so bad about being alone? But then I watched a couple of their videos and realized that being alone is not the same as loneliness...
Thanks to my cats, the internet, and being able to travel, I don't have to be lonely if I don't want to be. The campaign is primarily concerned about elderly people who have difficulty leaving the house may not even be able to use the internet to stay in contact with other people.
Now that would suck.
And any one of us could be there one day.
Something to think about. If somebody you know might be lonely, might want to take a minute and check in.
Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...
MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 15: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Original Grade: A • Today's Grade: A
This was a wildly entertaining movie with some genuinely touching moments, and I wouldn't dream of saying otherwise. But it was also somewhat problematic, which becomes more and more noticeable upon repeat viewings. Ego's whole end-game... his "Expansion Plan" to convert the universe into him... is really silly. I'm not saying that Peter's father shouldn't have been a Celestial, but I wish the cornerstone of Marvel's sci-fi side was more... science fictiony... instead of fantasy (a side of the MCU we haven't seen yet). Even so, I loved the movie and am happy at how well it folded into the larger picture of where the Marvel Universe was headed.
SCENE TO BEAT: The opening credits. I mean, seriously.
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: In addition to Ego feeling like the wrong approach, the film seemed like it needed to be a bit more streamlined. Between The Ravagers and The Sovereign and Nebula and Starhawk/Original Guardians being tossed in the mix, it felt like there could have been a stronger narrative if things were simpler.
SIDENOTE: Baby Groot has to be one of the more genius creations to come out of the MCU. Adorable, but more than just an ornamental. He was both effective as a character and useful as a story element. The skill to make that work makes me glad that Disney is keeping with James Gunn's script even as they fire James Gunn as a director. Time will tell if his replacement can do justice to his ideas. I certainly hope so.
I fell asleep on the couch last night while watching the Marvel Studios movie for today. Not easy to do when it's Guardians of the Galaxy, which is one of my favorites of the bunch. Guess it just goes to show how exhausted I was.
I woke up again when I got an alert that the security camera in my driveway had gone down.
This is the email I got...
And... look closer...
I'm thinking that Fake Jake might be behind my camera going down? The rascal.
I have two more cameras out front, so I was in no hurry to fix whatever it was that was wrong. Instead I finished up my movie and went to bed.
As for Real Jake? Just helping me open my mail this morning...
Jenny would rather lay on the floor for some reason...
When I went to Petco for kibble, I saw that the low-carb Tiki Cat dry food was on sale. This was cool... until I noticed that one of the flavors was marked as "clearance," which scares the hell out of me. I really, really hope that they aren't discontinuing this stuff. It's the most affordable food I've found that doesn't overload on carbs. In the meanwhile though, I snagged all eight bags and my cats are set for the rest of the year...
I can probably replace the dry with... something... I guess. But nobody makes the Tiki Cat Velvet Mousse that Jenny eats. And I seriously don't want to have to go back to blending my own. So gross.
Fingers crossed I won't have to.
Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...
MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 10: Guardians of the Galaxy
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
I re-watched this movie for the fifth?... sixth? time back in June, so I didn't really have to watch it again to jot down my thoughts. But I did it anyway. And I am hooked from the opening scene of Star-Lord dancing through a dead planet every time. If that doesn't sum up my feelings about Marvel's first "sci-fi" entry into the MCU, I don't know what will. The humor... the characters... the settings... the story... the music... all perfect. And perfectly executed, with amazing casting and brilliant special effects (which are so crucial to a film like this). I've admitted that I laughed when I first heard they were bringing this comic book to the big screen, because characters like Rocket and Groot were just an absurd thing to try and translate. But how wrong was I? And after watching Avengers: Infinity War, I'm even more impressed, because they were able to seamlessly mix Rocket and Groot with everybody else to amazing effect.
SCENE TO BEAT: Escape from the Kyln? Escape from Knowhere? The battle at Xandar maybe? I dunno. There are entirely too many good scenes to pick from. I can't even single it out to scenes with one character, because I love them all.
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Ronan the Accuser is a powerful Kree warrior, but I don't get how he was able to wield the Power Stone. I understand that he only touched it for a few seconds, which is why he didn't die... but how was he able to command it after he smashed it into his Universal Weapon hammer? He's an important Kree but, in the end, he's just a Kree. Not a god or ancient being. Or, in Peter's case, the son of an ancient being. It's a puzzler. And I still think the whole "holding hands" at the end was kinda silly.
SIDENOTE: It's amazing how critical this film was to everything that came after it in the MCU. Thanos... Gamora... Nebula... The Collector... and, looking even further forward for next year's Captain Marvel, The Kree. This was also the first time we got a full explanation on The Infinity Stones as well. Doesn't seem possible that such important stuff was set up in what's essentially a comedy, but there's Marvel Studios being all brilliant again.
You would think that when you pay for a movie in iTunes that the poster art would remain the same as when you bought it. But that's not the case. A while back Marvel started changing all the artwork in their store, which ended up changing the artwork on all the movies I bought.
And it all sucks.
Not that I'd be thrilled if it were better than the originals... I want the art that I recognize so I can recognize the movies I own. I want what I originally purchased.
Take for example the poster for Guardians of the Galaxy...
They hacked up pieces of the original poster, rearranged them, then slapped them on a boring-ass background. It looks worse than shitty, because there's no composition or context. Can you tell what in the hell Star-Lord is doing? Holding on to a handle? Who the hell knows?
The sequel poster is even worse. The cool and colorful art with all kinds of cool movie imagery in the background. It's been replaced with something so boring as to be sedate by comparison...
Thor: The Dark World is especially horrific in that he no longer looks like the god of thunder, but somebody in a red cape and bad hair...
Since most Marvel movies take place in New York City, Ant-Man was a breath of fresh air since it switched it up to the West Coast and San Francisco. To be sure there was no mistaking this, they put it right there on the poster...
When they remade it, they simply stripped away all the cool supporting elements and slapped some ugly-ass faux-metallic effect. Lame.
Group films like Avengers have posters that are carefully crafted to show the dynamic of the team. But now all we get is a grotesque cut-and-paste hack-job that has no interplay between characters and no dynamic. Somebody with a box of Colorforms could do the same damn thing... and probably better, since people wouldn't have their legs cut off and be suspended in air...
Another great example of this... Captain America: Civil War. What was the most incredible part of the film? The fact that there was a massive battle which pits hero against hero. But the new poster rips this away, completely confusing the story. For all we know from looking at the shitty art, this is a Captain America and Iron Man buddy picture. Or an Iron Man movie with a guest-spot by Cap, since the figures have been reversed and Stark is in the #1 spot...
Doctor Strange is a mind-bending film which introduces magic and other dimensional planes to the Marvel Universe. But now? Some guy in a red cape with a tall collar? Shitty. Utterly shitty...
I think my most hated poster remake is for Iron Man 3...
The original poster was SO cool. Foreboding atmosphere, Tony's house exploding, and The Iron Legion are all there... along with a ravaged but determined Iron Man. But the remake? You can barely even tell that's Iron Man. Looks like the cover to some kind of Harlequin Romance or a shitty, low-budget crapfest. And can somebody please explain why the characters are fading into a star-field?
I understand the thinking in redoing the posters. They are trying to create something that will be easily understood at the smaller thumbnail sizes that you'll find in iTunes or other movie streaming services. But when they come up with something this shitty, does it really matter if you more easily understand them? If anything, I'd argue that the original posters are more distinct and interesting... even if you can't fully tell what's going on when reduced to tiny sizes.
At the very least, they could leave it up to the buyer which poster to display in their iTunes library.
Because the new crop is more than just ugly and boring... they're offensively bad design.
Today was long-time blogging friend Howard's 50th birthday!
And to celebrate, he rented out a theater at The Alamo Draft House Denver so a group of us could watch Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2.
Given my love of the first film, I was really, really looking forward to seeing it...
And my verdict? Not as good as the first movie, but a fantastic film that's high on entertainment value.
For more of my spoiler-filled thoughts, you'll have to read on in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!...
for behold! An all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Groot! There can be no greater news on the internet right now than the new teaser trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2...
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 doesn't open until May and I already want to see Guardians of the Galaxy
• Less. Having a mortgage wouldn't be so bad if nothing would ever break down and require expensive repairs. But it does. About every two months. And just when you think everything that has broken down has broken down and been fixed? Along comes something new. Which is why a letter for my lender was cause for excitement...
LETTER: "Congratulations! Your mortgage payment has gone down!"
ME: "No way!"
ME: "NO! WAY!"
LETTER: "YES WAY!"
ME: "Dude, sweet!"
LETTER: "We're deducting $4.15 from your payment starting next month."
ME: "Fuck you, Letter."
• Fixed? I love the HGTV series Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna's design aesthetic and rapport makes for a great show... especially if you're into home renovation like I am. And while I am able to mentally divide my entertainment personality's personal life from their work... it's really tough to watch the show knowing that they attend a church which would happily push conversion therapy on their four kids should any of them be gay. How can you support that?
Even if the Gaines's don't advocate conversion therapy or aren't opposed to marriage equality... they (assumably) financially support a church that does. They are a part of the segment of society persecuting LGBT persons and, more specifically LGBT youth, just for being who they are. And it's this part of our society which is responsible for the toxicity behind the epidemic of suicides among our gay youth. They listen to the idiotic rhetoric of a church like this and think nobody... including God... will accept them as they are and see no way out. No amount of Texas charm or design sense can compensate for that.
• Our Dolphin. Here it is... the first book out of Thrice Fiction Magazine's Thrice Publishing. It is a wonderful, wonderful novella by Joel Allegretti that I'm incredibly proud to have had a small part in unleashing on the world...
Order a copy for your holiday reading list... or order a dozen for gifts that are sure to be appreciated! Click here to get Our Dolphin at Amazon.
• Crazy. I don't know what's more shocking. That Fake Jake pounded into the catio at a full-on sprint across the back yard... or that Real Jake just sat there at the point of impact and watched it happen without even blinking...
Jenny is still scared of Fake Jake's crazy antics... but Jake is all "meh" about it now.
• DST. Global humiliation, domestic devastation, and the threat of nuclear war would all be worth it if President Trump abolishes clock changes and makes Daylight Savings Time permanent this coming Spring. Just sayin'.
Well, I guess that's it for bullets. Probably. I dunno. Maybe in an hour I'll come back and add ten more.
You can stop being depressed that the end of Daylight Saving Time stole an hour of your life... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Saturday Night! How refreshing to watch an episode of SNL that doesn't have you fast-forwarding through the whole thing! The highlight of the episode, of course, was guest host Chris Hemsworth as Thor celebrating The Avengers' triumph over Ultron...
"Victory Party at Dave & Busters" is probably one of the best things to appear on Saturday Night Live in over a decade.
• Heroic! And speaking of Marvel comic book movie heroes named "Chris" doing amazing things... even though Chris Evans won his Super Bowl bet with Chris Pratt, he appeared at Seattle Children's Hospital in costume as Captain America anyway...
This is after he appeared with Pratt (who was in costume as Star Lord) at Boston's Christopher's Haven after winning the bet...
What a decent couple of guys. It would have been so easy to skip the effort involved in doing something so amazing... on top of raising $27,000 for these terrific children's charities... but they're using their fame and fortune exactly how it should be used, and that's the best kind of hero you can be.
• Super! Well, it's not as hideous as I feared... a little dark maybe... but the suit for the upcoming Supergirl television show has been revealed...
Costume designer Colleen Atwood has a pretty darn good track record with the costumes for Arrow and The Flash, and it looks like she's got another home run on her hands. Melissa Benoist is certainly looking super enough for the part, that's for sure.
• Presidential? HE'S offended?!? I don't know what offends ME more... that Rand Paul is a bigoted piece of shit... or that he's propagating anti-vax idiocy... or that his concept of foreign policy is so far removed from reality that he might as well live in Narnia... or that some of his domestic policy ideas are so impossibly naive that you have to wonder if he's switched bodies with his younger 13-year-old self like what happened in that Jennifer Garner movie 13 Going on 30... or... or... or... holy crap... he's probably going to run for president, isn't he?
• McCarthyism! If my name were associated with being a complete and total piece of shit who is responsible for children getting sick and even dying, I'd want to change it too.
She's just the absolute worst.
• Lonny! I have no clue how Next Time on Lonny escaped my notice... for two seasons... but catching up on the web series while working at work this fine Sunday was definitely the best part of my day. WARNING: Contains all matter of profanity, depravity, and violence... definitely NSFW...
Sure thing, Dog Moon! You can't just watch just one, because the insanity escalates with each new episode.
• Sausage! If Lonny wasn't enough to satisfy your comedy craving this fine Sunday, the guys at Nacho Punch have created a porn film "by Wes Anderson" that's beyond dead-accurate...
You know you're getting tired of the repetitive wackiness of Wes Anderson films when you can't tell the parodies from the real thing any more.
The end. I'd post more bullets, but with only 23 hours in the day, I haven't got the time.
After what I can only describe as "Shitty Monday," it's the little things that make me want to keep going.
Like the news that Funko will indeed be making a dancing Groot Bobble Head toy from the amazing, must-see-in-theaters Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
Sadly, he's not available until January, but he is coming...
You can pre-order one of your vey own at ToyWiz.
In the meanwhile, you can just watch this over and over and over again...
All I need now is a LEGO Guardians of the Galaxy video game for my life to be complete.
Dang. Now I want to see Guardians again.
I have to wonder if JJ Abrams has seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet... and, if he has, did he shit his pants at the thought of his Star Wars installment having to follow it? Because Guardians of the Galaxy is quite possibly my favorite sci-fi film since The Empire Strikes Back. It's that good.
And I just can’t quite wrap my head around that statement, because there have been some really good sci-fi films since Empire. Alien, Aliens, Blade Runner, The Terminator, Terminator 2, The Matrix, Stargate, Serenity… even the recent Star Trek remakes and cartoons like WALL-E… all great films. So how is this possible?
I think it’s a combination of two things.
First of all, it’s a fantastic film. Surprisingly awesome in almost every way. Really funny when it needs to be. Story, cast, special effects, direction, cinematography, characters, music, score... all great.
But mainly I think it’s because I’ve been living with The Marvel Universe comics for what seems like forever. There’s something about seeing The Nova Corps... Thanos... Ronan & Nebula... Drax the Destroyer... all these cosmic comic characters... each come to life on-screen in a way that has completely captivated me. Not an easy task, I assure you, but Marvel seems to be making it look easy as they keep knocking it out of the park in comic book movie after comic book movie. And, I fully admit that I was a doubter when Guardians was announced because it just seemed like such an unlikely property to make into a good film. It’s got a talking raccoon, for heavens sake! But writer/director James Gunn (along with co-writer Nicole Perlman) figured out how to make it work. Actually... no... they not only “figured it out,” they completely and totally nailed it in a movie so near perfection that I am still having trouble believing it exists...
Twenty-six years ago a young Peter Quill watches in horror as his mother dies, then runs away from the hospital in a futile attempt at escaping the trauma life has thrown at him. At which point he’s abducted by aliens. So far as openers go, it’s kind of lame, right? What are the odds? But, of course, there’s much more to it than all that… you just need to have patience to get there.
Fortunately, James Gunn makes the wait easy.
Now a grown man, Peter lives his life as a rogue thief. His time spent roaming the galaxy, breaking hearts, and trying to stay out of trouble. But trouble always seems to find him, and when he steals an artifact that some Very Powerful People are after, his life becomes a lot more complicated. Action, adventure, and hilarity ensues...
To discuss the plot is to spoil the film, and I'm just not willing to do that. This is a movie you must see on the big screen. Don't wait for DVD... see it BIG. The eye-popping visuals demand it.
I will, however, discuss the cast. Which is flawless. Chris Pratt as Star-Lord is note-perfect. He encapsulates everything you could possibly want Peter Quill to be. He headlines the movie so effortlessly that even the most unbelievable parts of the film seem anchored and believable. And it's all gravy from there. Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace... just amazing performances all the way around. And Bradley Cooper (the last person I envisioned as the voice of Rocket Raccoon) owns the role and steals every scene he's in.
If I have one quibble, it would be that the ending is over-the-top schmaltzy, predictable, and cheesy. But I don't think the film suffers too much for it, and I think Gunn explained it away in a way that kinda works.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a beautiful-looking film with a great story... and funny! It gets an easy A+ from me, which means it's time to update the score card...
The Avengers... A+
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... D
Amazing Spider-Man 2... D-
Superman Returns... C+
Thor: The Dark World... B
The Wolverine... B
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: First Class... B
Today was sure a good day for videos!
Starting with the international trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, which is shaping up to be a must-see film. This pleases me, because I was highly skeptical when Marvel announced it was on their development schedule. The comic book has all kinds of weird ties to the "galactic" side of the Marvel Universe, which needs a lot of subtext to be fully understood.
It also features a talking raccoon.
But with each new sneak peek and trailer that gets released, I love the idea a little more.
Especially the talking raccoon...
Can you imagine if we get an Avenger or two in the sequel? Holy crap is Marvel doing absolutely everything right in their film properties.
My love of The Daily Show is well-known. A lot of that has to do with Jon Stewart's genius delivery of the "news" stories he reports. But he's not the only talent on the show. His supporting reporters are all pretty darn good. One of the best was John Oliver before he left to do his own show... Last Week Tonight.
Now he's even better.
He is able to distill complex topics to bits that are as easy to understand as they are funny. His latest story on Fifa is an excellent example...
His take on Net Neutrality, one of the most important topics in this country today, was genius...
The YouTube Channel for Last Week Tonight is well worth a look.
In music news... OK Go has done it again. They've crafted an incredible video for their latest track, The Writing's on the Wall...
What's great about OK Go is not just that they know how to make uniquely great music videos... but that the music they put in those videos is really great too. This song has been stuck in my head from the minute I heard it.
If you've ever wondered what would happen if Trey Parker and Matt Stone's brilliant Broadway musical The Book of Mormon were mashed-up with Trey Parker and Matt Stone's brilliant cartoon South Park... well, wonder no more. Simon Chong has flawlessly animated exactly that...
I'm no fan of musicals... but The Book of Mormon was absolute genius, and this just makes me hope that we eventually get a movie version of the show.
The Brian Williams rap mashups that have been appearing on Jimmy Fallon are amazing because they're so brilliantly crafted. The latest installment for Baby Got Back is no exception...
In case you hadn't seen it, my favorite of all of them is Rapper's Delight...
If you can't get enough, here's a link to more.
And lastly... such a cool rescue catch by Brock Holt of the ever-awesome Boston Red Sox...
How sweet was that?
See? A pretty good day for videos!