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Scarlet Witches and Bleached Corpses

Posted on March 5th, 2021

Dave!What is grief, if not love persevering? — The Vision

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Disney+ started streaming the final episode of WandaVision right out of the gate at midnight. The previous two weeks it took me nearly ten minutes to get to the show as Disney+ servers broke with tons of people trying to access them.

All-in-all the series was... not great. Not terrible, but not what I wanting to see from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I understand there are people who are just loving to see Wanda get beat up on while she processes her grief, so more power to them, I guess...

Wanda floating in the air as The Scarlet Witch!

I wrote my thoughts on the final episode (and the series as a whole) immediately after the show, but likely won't post until I have time to read through all this on my lunch break tomorrow. I'm tired, and there's probably a million spelling mistakes.

But anyway... it's all in an extended entry if you care to read it...

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Tragic Pineapple Visions

Posted on February 26th, 2021

Dave!It's almost 1:00am. I watched the latest episode of WandaVision (discussed below) then picked up around the house before collapsing in bed to write this blog entry. An entry which won't be posted until morning because I'm sure there are going to be a hundred mistakes that I'm too tired to catch right now.

Yesterday was uneventful. The most interesting thing to happen was when I decided to make a "Barbecue Pineapple Flatbread Pizza" from HelloFresh... then just couldn't do it. I ordered it because meal services often have things that sound disgusting but end up delicious. But when it came time to marinate the pineapple in barbecue sauce so I could slap it on the pizza?

No.

Just no.

There's no way that could ever be considered "delicious" so I put the ingredients away... slapped some Contadina Pizza Sauce on the flatbreads... added mozzarella, parmesan, and feta... then baked them until I had cheese pizzas. They were fine.

Except...

As I was pawing through my stack of drawers to find a pizza cutter, I reached in and ended up slicing my finger on a serrated knife. Took a nice chunk of skin off my finger, but didn't bleed. Lucky me. I can't wait for Spring so I can finish my kitchen remodel, because it's tough living like this. Tough on my fingers, that is.

But Anyway...

Agatha Harkness creeping up behind Wanda on WandaVision.

My thoughts on the latest episode of WandaVision are in an extended entry...

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Aliens, Mars, and Wanda

Posted on February 19th, 2021

Dave!And so we have another rover on Mars. But give me a minute. I'll get there.

James Cameron is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers. As both writer and director, he knows how to craft a story that is imaginative, exciting, and action-packed. If I were to rank his work, it would look something like this...

  • Aliens (A+) One of the tightest action/horror thrillers ever created.
  • Terminator (A+) Amazing high-concept sci-fi that elevated action sci-fi cinema.
  • True Lies (A) Impeccably well-thought-out spy/action film with terrific humor.
  • Terminator 2 (A) After Aliens, one of the best sequels of all time.
  • The Abyss (A) Grossly underrated action flick with a brilliant story premise.
  • Titanic (B+) Impossibly good film that made the sinking of the Titanic exciting.
  • Avatar (B) Groundbreaking effects-driven spectacle.

The movie Strange Days, which is also a favorite of mine, was written by Cameron, but directed by his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow. I actually liked it better than Titanic and Avatar.

So, to sum up, my favorite James Cameron is Aliens.

And I think of this movie every single time that I see NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories where all the scientists and technicians are staring at computer monitors as they run the mission. Yesterday I was watching live as the Perseverance rover was landing on Mars, none of these NASA people were watching events unfold live. It takes 11 minutes for a signal to return to earth, so what they're seeing happened 11 minutes ago. Likewise, any commands they send take 11 minutes to be initiated.

So they're flying blind.

Just like the "artificial person" Bishop does when he makes his way to the settlement satelite uplink tower to call a replacement drop-ship down from the Sulaco. He's not getting any feedback, he's playing out what's happening in orbit in his head and issuing commands accordingly...

Synthetic human Bishop concentrating while looking at nothing.

Bishop's fingers flying across the keyboard.

Bishop punching the ENABLE key on the keyboard.

Actor Lance Henriksen, who plays Bishop, never looks at any display. He is either looking at nothing and staring into space while he concentrates, or looking at the keyboard...

Bishop tying on a terminal while staring at the keys.

A drop-ship onboard the Sulaco is prepping to depart.

Back when I first saw Aliens I thought this was incredibly cool... and totally baller. And it's a bit what I imagine it's like to work on a rover landing at JPL.

Anyway... back to Mars...

I watched NASA's "live" broadcast of the landing. It's nail-biting stuff. With that 11 minute delay and no way to send last minute course corrections or instructions, all they could do was cross their fingers that everything worked as it was designed to. As we saw with the probe Nozomi things can definitely go terribly wrong. NASA tried to make the wait interesting by having computer renderings of what's going on, which includes the rover targeting its landing zone after being released from the lander...

A computer rendering of the Mars rover desceding.

A computer rendering of  the Mars rover falling towards the red planet.

A computer rendering of the Mars rover landed on Mars.

Good job, buddy!

NASA engineers celebrating the successful landing.

Throughout the broadcast, there was a guy walking about stuff that was happening...

NASA engineer discussing the landing.

But I could barely concentrate on him... I was laser-focused on what looks like a Mars 2020 branded jar of peanuts sitting on the desk next to him...

Closeup of what looks like a jar of peanuts sitting next to the NASA engineer.

Maybe it's not nuts at all... I dunno. Could be it's some essential prop for discussing the Mars mission that I missed by coming late to the video stream. But it sure looks like nuts.

Of course, just because NASA received notice that the rover had landed successfully doesn't necessarily mean that everything is functioning correctly! We had to wait to get a low-res, black-and-white shot of The Red Planet via one of the Hazard Avoidance Cameras...

A low-res, black-and-white shot of The Red Planet.

Sweet! High res images and more Mars updates will be forthcoming from the NASA Perseverance team at their Mission Update Blog, which you can visit and bookmark here.

And, before I continue, can I just say how fantastic Paul Reiser's performance as the ultimate rat bastard was in Aliens? Easily his best work as an actor, because he really had to sell it...

Paul Reiser playing Burke, a real bastard.

And when he gets caught on his bullshit and has the most upper-lip-sweat of any human being in the history of the world? Oh yeah. That was a cinematic moment right there.

And then there's tonight's latest episode of WandaVision which will be discussed in a spoiler-filled extended entry below. And you're welcome!

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Wiccan, Speed, and Reality

Posted on February 12th, 2021

Dave!Thanks to the pandemic essentially confining my life to what I can see on my television, I've had a fairly boring blog over the past year. A stronger person than myself would likely have used this as an opportunity to just stop blogging altogether and find a better use for that time... but I think we all know I'm not that strong. The evidence is staring you in the face.

I think this is why I'm alternately fascinated then disappointed with the latest thing to come from Marvel Studios and Disney+: WandaVision. On one hand it's nice to have something new after a full year of rewatching the existing Marvel movies... and the potential for cool things happening is huge with this show. On the other hand, they are really dragging things out... and not in a good way. Wanda's ability (and desire) to rewrite reality is a frighteningly timely concept in these COVID times but it's just not moving fast enough for me. And since there's only three episodes left, I'm beginning to wonder just how good the resolution can be.

After last week's bombshell finale, I thought that this week would finally get us the promise we've been shoveled about the television shows being filled with epic events just like the movies are...

Wanda and Vision wearing their comic book costumes for Scarlet Witch and Vision as Halloween costumes.

Alas... not so much.

While there's certainly some very cool nods to the comic book source material (seriously, it's been a comic fanboy's dream!), once again not much is happening in the actual show.

But that leads us into spoiler territory, so I'm putting that discussion in an extended entry. Hopefully it all makes sense, because I'm writing this at 1:00am...

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WandaVision Visions

Posted on February 5th, 2021

Dave!I've made no bones about my disappointment over the slow burn of Marvel Studio's first series to land on Disney+, WandaVision. It started as a 50's sitcom version of The Dick VanDyke Show, became a 60's episode version of Bewitched, then took a jump into the 70's by looking like something out of The Brady Bunch, and currently they've become an 80's sitcom version of Family Ties or maybe Growing Pains. These are not all the influences of what Wanda has created, but you get the idea...

Wanda and Vision in an 80's sitcom.

Along the way we got a peek into what's happening in The Real World in fourth episode. That's when things finally got moving, and we started to understand what's happening.

Now we're at the fifth episode and the implications are huge. Since there's finally something to talk about, I'm doing just that in a spoiler-filled extended entry...

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