Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Ballad of Admiral Longinous Jonathan Silver

Two days ago, my brother began sending me a series of texts with his thoughts on various fast food seafood establishments. I still have no idea what prompted it. Either way, I just went with it to see where it would take me. Here’s how it went down…

DAVID: Fuck you if you don't like Long John Silver's. Talk shit about Captain D's all
you want. He was a drunken fool. Long John Silver knows what's up. He's the true

ME: Long John Silver ain’t got no “captain” in front of his name is all I’m sayin'…

DAVID: That’s a weak dick argument. I can go buy a boat and start calling myself
captain in 30 minutes. Does that mean I know what I’m doing when it comes to
serving delicious seafood to people?

ME: You can buy a boat?

DAVID: I didn’t say it would be a nice boat.

ME: A canoe?

DAVID: Does an inflatable raft from Wal-Mart count?

3 hours later…

ME: You at work?

DAVID: Yeah. Dreaming about what the rules of my ship are gonna be.

ME: Any in particular?

DAVID: The first rule, and most important rule, is to always have fun.

ME: That’s a good rule. Write it down so you don’t forget it.

DAVID: The second rule… Don’t ever trust that son of a bitch Chris Brennaman. He
just wants to crush the dreams of the captain of the ship.

ME: Hmmm… I don’t know about that one. Maybe you should think about it a little

DAVID: What about “Don’t trust that son of a bitch Chris Brennaman. He thinks
Captain D was a far superior naval officer that Admiral Longinous Jonathan Silver.”?

24 hours later the following unsolicited picture arrives on my phone…

DAVID: So apparently when you search for Google images of Admiral Longinous
Jonathan Silver, this is what comes back. While I’d trust him with a great sing along
about the sea, I’m not so sure I’d buy seafood from the guy.

The next picture immediately followed…

DAVID: This guy on the other hand… I’d buy from him any day. He looks like he’d
fight any man or beast to bring only the finest seafood to my table.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Living the Disneyland Dream

I found this film a few years ago while ratting around and have viewed multiple times since. And by film, I mean a family film shot in 1956 documenting a vacation to a then new Disneyland. It’s one of my favorite things to watch when I run out of Internet.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fun With Lists!

I made the following my Facebook status yesterday:

"Contrary to popular belief, the list of comic-based movies I enjoyed is actually longer than the one of those I don't."

Maybe I was tired of being called a hater, maybe I was tired of being called a purist. Maybe I was just in the mood to declare my love hypothetical lists. Typed with no irony, I felt confident in the moment to make that exact assertion. But then?

Then I realized there was no actual list.

"Holy shit balls," I thought. "What if someone calls me on that? What if I have to make a list and it turns out I'm a liar? And if that happens, what will people do should they learn they can no longer trust my Facebook status updates?"

Thus it came to pass that in the spirit of being open and honest with the good people of Facebook, I carved out just under five minutes to make that list a reality. I made that list and what I found was nothing less than shocking.

I was shocked to learn just how fucking terrible I am at making basic columns. Seriously, those were my first two attempts. Whatever. Science is trial and error. At least that's what I told myself as I crumpled up the second miserably failed chart. Anyway, my third attempt at making The List would be where the magic would happen. My third attempt would not only be where I would (barely) succeed in drawing multiple columns, but where I would also succeed in telling the haters...

... TO EAT IT! HA! 

See that?! Boom! The list of comic movies I could think of in about five minutes is so totally longer than the one of comic movies I hated. It's even longer than the list of comic-based movies I'm almost completely indifferent to. Hell, it's so long, I needed a second page to continue onto! That's right. I'm absolutely not the hater you (or I) thought I was.

Hooray for lists.

Hooray for science.

Hooray for me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Let's Talk About Man of Steel

If you haven’t seen Man of Steel, please do know there will be SPOILERS. Like,  a lot of SPOILERS. So if SPOILERS bug you, then you may want to stop reading two sentences ago.

Still with me? Good. Let’s do this thing…

Believe it or not, there are examples of Superman taking a life. It’s rare, but not entirely unheard of.

Alan Moore’s Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, one of the all time great Superman stories, actually ends with Superman believing he has no choice but to take a life. During a time when Moore was setting the tone for all things grim and gritty, he actually makes a loving tribute to the wonder, grandeur and oddness that was the Silver Age adventures of Superman, all lovingly penciled by Curt Swan.

Anyway, the story ends with nigh omnipotent Mr. Mxyzptlk revealing himself to be a violent force for evil who intends to wreak irreparable havoc on the world. Thus, in an extremely rare moment of desperation, Superman kills Mxyzptlk. In one of the greatest, most well-regarded Superman stories ever published, winds up a murderer in order to save the world.

It was this story that was on my mind as Superman kill General Zod in Man of Steel and a feeling of rage rushed over me.

“Shit, Superman has killed in the comics,” I thought as I watched Superman snap General Zod’s neck in Man of Steel. “Why the hell is this murder bothering me so badly?” That’s what I thought. What I said in the packed theater was “OH WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?”

I was actually conflicted and confused. Then it hit me why I was so offended by what I’d seen. Superman’s murder of Zod was not only not earned, but there was no regret. At least, no Superman level regret.

See, in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, Superman faces a no win situation similar to the one in Man of Steel. Mr. Mxyzptlk is more powerful than Superman in every sense of the word, and Superman only has brief seconds to act. This is where the experiences differ. Once Superman kills Mxyzptlk, he is immediately overcome with guilt, remorse and regret. So much in fact that Superman steps into a chamber with Gold Kryptonite which permanently removes his powers. Yes. So filled with sorrow at his failure, Superman decides he’s no longer worthy of his position and name.

In Man of Steel, there’s no regret. Sure, he cries for about thirty seconds onto Lois Lane, but the very next scene he’s talking and cracking jokes with the military. He’s just committed murder, something that should shake this iconic character to his core, but he seems to get over it fairly quickly.

Now combine that lack of regret with the annihilation of both Metropolis and Smallville. Those climactic battles were hard to watch. They looked pretty and they were beautifully choreographed, but as I watched them I kept wondering when Superman was going to try to take the fight away from populated areas. Why? Because that’s what Superman would do.

He’s all about making sure no one gets hurt. So every time he sent a Kryptonian careening through a skyscraper, or punching one into a gas truck, I cringed. Massive amounts of people were dying and Superman was part of the problem. Thousands upon thousands of people die because Superman never, not once, has the foresight to draw his adversaries away from populated areas. In fact, his ultimate victory happens in the ashes of thousands of dead men, women and children, all of whom he never tried to actually save because he was too busy punching things.

And that’s where Man of Steel fails.

The promise of Superman is a simple one. Superman will save us. And if he can’t or isn’t able to, it won’t be because he didn’t try or didn’t think to. It will be because he exhausted every possible (and impossible) means he could. This is why the fight at the end of the movie made me sad, and why the murder of Zod didn’t sit right with me.

I keep seeing the counter argument to people like me not enjoying Man of Steel as breaking down into roughly two arguments. 1) This Superman takes place in the real world, and 2) This Superman is relevant to our times.

1)  This Superman takes place in the real world -No. This movie does not take place in the real world. In the real world, men can’t fly, they can’t shoot lasers from their eyes, and if aliens are out there, they probably don’t look and act EXACTLY like us.

2) This Superman is relevant to our times- If this is what it takes t make Superman relevant, if what we saw in Man of Steel is a reflection of our world today, then that’s more upsetting than anything else perceived wrong about a movie. We’ve decided that we don’t want hope and wonder, but rather ever darkening shades of gray and a hero who, in the end, is only concerned with us in word only. 

That makes me sad.

Superman deserves better. We deserve better.

As to the movie itself…

Before the movie fell apart at the end, I was, for the most part, enjoying it. Like a lot of super hero movies now, it tries to cram way too much into a single movie, but there are worser things than that. The stuff with Krypton was amazing, Russell Crow brought it and Lois Lane was actually portrayed as a capable reporter.

I got that Pa Kent was protective of his son and even appreciated it, but, as I feared, he came across as a dick at times rather than the guiding force in a demigod’s life. His death, however, was touching, heartbreaking and almost impossible to watch because of the sorrow it evoked.

Michael Shannon put Terrance Stamp on notice, however this Zod seemed to be written as waaaay too much of a “villain” rather than a zealot who wanted to save his people (seriously, guy is the worst pitchman ever. “I just want to bring our people back and need your help to do, NOW LOOK AT ALL THE SKULLS OF THOSE YOU LOVE! NOW GIVE ME THE MCGUFIN! EVIIIIIIIIL!”)

The action was beautifully choreographed yet became tiresome after a bit. The pacing was just, I don’t know, off?

Oh. And the suit looks weird without the red trunks. And don’t give me that “It looks more realistic/not as silly” crap. It’s a guy in a blue spandex suit with a giant “S” on his chest and a red cape. It already looks silly. Red trunks ain’t gonna make it look any sillier than it already does.