Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tales from the Tube: The Premier of Happy Town

Haplin, Minnesota seems like a great place to live. There haven't been any serious crimes there in five years, and thanks to the giant bread factory, the entire town smells like bread. How wonderful is that? (Although, I do know someone who would probably be driven mad with envy by that since eating bread would, like, kill him.) Like all paradises, however, there's a catch; before that five-year crimeless spree began, there was a span of twelve years where one person would disappear each year, taken by "The Magic Man," who, although the disappearances stopped, was never caught. And, like all paradises, it must come to an end; shortly after the show opens, Haplin, or Happy Town, as it is called, is faced with a particularly grisly murder where the town pervert had a large metal spike driven into his head.

Happy Town does a decent job of setting up it's main mystery, as well as a lot of little mysteries as well that, presumably, will tie into the big one before its all said and done, and in the spirit of things I'll try to stay as spoiler-free as possible. There's the sheriff, played incredibly well by M.C. Gainey, who seems like he knows a lot more than he lets on and might be cracking under the pressure of that knowledge; there's the older, distinguished gentleman who just opened up a movie memorabilia store called "The House of Ushers" (and you just know nothing good can possibly come from invoking that name) who is played to a creepy perfection by Sam Neill, who absolutely stole the show; and there's the new girl in town, Henley, played by the beautiful Lauren German, who, I suspect, might be one of the keys to the whole affair. The show is filled with other characters as well, all of whom were suitably quirky and engaging, but these three were, to me, the stars of the night. I do hope Amy Acker, whom I adore, will be given a chance to shine as the sheriff's son's wife. If she isn't, I will be very sad.

All of those good, quirky characters are part of the one problem I had with Happy Town last night: there are so many characters that it was hard to get a feel for most of them, with a few exceptions. With good characterization as the show continues, though, that should stop being a real problem and become a problem more along the lines of having a surplus of pitching on your baseball team; you can never have too many pitchers, and you can never have too many well-developed and engaging characters. Just look at Lost.

The questions that Happy Town gets you asking are "Who is the Magic Man?" and "Is he really back?" The real question you ask yourself at the end of the premier, before you even tackle those questions, is "Did this make me care enough to come back every week and find out?"

For me, the answer is a resounding "yes."

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Return of Mets Monday!

Mets Monday is a thing I used to do on my old blog where I'd talk about the Mets... you guessed it... every Monday, and with baseball season well underway, I thought I'd pick up where I left off with it a few years ago.

After the first two weeks of the season, it felt like someone needed to etch Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here above the entrance to Citi Field. Things were going so bad for this team that they lost the first four series of the season, which had never happened before. Considering how many bad years the Mets have had in the past, that was quite the dubious distinction. However, since they came back to Citi last Monday, they've gone 6-1. So, what's changed?

It's not the starting pitching, which has actually been solid so far, with the exception of John Maine. Santana, Pelfrey, and Niese have all pitched well, especially Big Pelf, who, as of now, has the best ERA among National League starters and is tied for most wins with the likes of Halladay and Lincecum; Perez has had one really good game, and the rest of his starts, while shaky, haven't been nearly as bad as you can usually expect from Ollie. The bullpen, once again the hardest working pen in the majors, has been for the most part holding it down with a combined ERA of 2.81 in something like 67 innings. Both the rotation and the pen have been consistent.

So, what's changed?

I think Jerry finally realized what a lot of people had been saying since, well, before the season started: there were some downright useless people on the roster. Mike Jacobs? Sure, he's got some pop, except he can't make contact, and he can't field, so he wasn't worth the wait. Platooning him with Tatis? First base basically became useless right there; sure, Tatis can play first base on paper, but let's be realistic, Tatis is a fifth outfielder/pinch-hitter, at best. These two were such a bad first base team that Frank Catalanotto got a start at first, for Pete's sake! (Don't ask me why he also batted clean-up that game, I don't even want to try to see what made Jerry think that was a good idea.) Equally stupid was forcing Pagan to share centerfield duties with Gary Matthews Jr, who is so far beyond useless he enters the tits-on-a-nun category.

But things changed last Monday. The brought up Ike Davis to play first base, and I have to say, this kid can play. He's not tearing the world up with the bat yet, but you can tell he can hit, and he damn sure knows what he's doing on defense. He's made three or four plays already that wouldn't have been anywhere near possible for Jacobs or Tatis. I'm starting to wonder what's going to happen when David Murphy finally comes back from his injury, because it looks like Davis might be part of the infield for a long time to come.

Also on Monday, Jerry nixed the centerfielder platoon and gave the job to Pagan for good (for good being until Beltran comes back, if that ever even happens), and it's about time. Aside from being a fairly solid fielder, Pagan can hit, and he's a burner on the bases. Having him in the lineup made it possible for Jerry to finally get his way and bat Reyes third, and so far the new lineup has been working. Now, if Wright and Bay ever get hot, and you just know it's inevitable that they will, this team will be able to do some great things.

I guess time will tell. One things for certain, though: hope doesn't have to be abandoned just yet.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Week's Best, for the week of 4-19-10 to 4-25-10

The Week's Best is an entry I'm going to do (hopefully!) every week, talking about my favorite TV show episodes and comic books of the week. Pretty self-explanatory, right? What's that? You want to know why movies aren't on the list? I'm glad you asked! I won't be talking about movies on here because all the best things about movies are covered by myself and mi amigo Nick on an almost daily basis over at Heckling from the Balcony (plug! plug!) And now, here are the week's winners.

The Week's Best TV Show Runner-Up - Supernatural Ep. 5x19, "Hammer of the Gods"
Another solid episode from one of the few shows on television that never disappoints me, this episode saw a literal pantheon of "pagan" gods gather to try to decide how to stop the Christian apocalypse, only to end up slaughtered to a god by Lucifer (except for Kali, but, y'know, she IS the Hindu goddess associated with eternal energy, after all*). Oh, yeah, they also killed Gabriel. Yes, the archangel. How can you not love a show like that?

The Week's Best TV Show Winner - 24 Ep. 8x18, "Day 8: 9:00am - 10:00am"
I've loved 24 for a long time, but it's been a very up-and-down romance: the ups would be when they focus on Jack and what he does; the downs would be pretty much everything else. It's no secret that the B storylines on the show usually suck. The strength of this episode, then, is that, with the exception of a scene or two with Gregory Itzin doing his slimiest as President Logan, this episode focuses squarely on Jack. He runs the emotional gauntlet in this one, from grief to rage to violence to insubordination, and eventually becoming almost a terrorist himself. The end of this one really ratcheted up the suspense for the next episode.

The Week's Best Comic Book Runner-Up - X-Men Legacy #235
The fourth part of the big X-Men story going on right now, "Second Coming," this issue really had it all. Greg Land's art, which I'm not usually a fan of for reasons anybody who knows how to Google can easily find out, wasn't nearly as bad as usual and fit the story fairly well. That story, by Mike Carey (who, aside from comics, has also been writing novels; there are four or five out now, I've read the first two, and they're simply fantastic, I highly recommend them) is the strongest of the storyline so far. He matches intense action, including multiple deaths, impaling, and a beheading, with some really fantastic character beats. Any other week, and this easily would have been the winner. However...

This Week's Best Comic Book Winner - Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #9
Brian Michael Bendis (if you haven't heard that name before, get used to it; you'll probably see it here a lot) has been writing Ultimate Spider-Man for 10 years now, has churned out around 145 issues in that time-frame, and, if I had been doing this blog that whole time, would probably have been on this column for most of those weeks. He has turned the series into a version of the old Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon: young Peter Parker has been forced to have Iceman and the Human Torch live in his house with him and Aunt May, and his girlfriend Gwen Stacy lives there as well; his two exes, Mary Jane and Kitty Pryde are always there as well. This issue sees the Torch team up with Spider-Woman in a fight sequence before he asks her out and, apparently, makes out with her; alas, poor Torch has no idea she's Peter's clone, which makes Pete all kinds of hysterically uncomfortable. Another highlight of the book is when Gwen, MJ, and Kitty all gang up on Peter to make him get a haircut (and Bendis uses this as an excuse to needle readers as well: when artist David LaFuente took over the book, people complained his Spidey's head was too round, so the girls tell Peter his hair makes his in-costume head look too perfectly round) and the results are priceless. The issue turns serious at the end, though, when federal agents try to drag Kitty out of school just because she's a mutant, and it ends with a dramatic cliffhanger that, like most issues of this series, leave you hungry for more.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Clip from the animated Buffy...

This was supposed to happen years ago, long before the show went off the air in 2003, but for some reason it never did. It looks like it could have been good, especially considering all the voices were done by the actors from the show (except Buffy herself, but that's probably because Sarah Michelle Gellar has, from all accounts, always been a bit of a bitch). The powers that be should think twice about it now, considering all the hype around vampires lately, not to mention the popularity of the Buffy Season Eight comic. Anyway, here's the snippet.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Use the Force... Jesus?

Yeah, that's right. It's a Star Wars post. Considering the big honkin' stormtrooper up there, you had to know one was coming sooner or later, although this probably won't be quite what anyone expected. See, in my boredom two weekends ago, I decided to watch the entirety of Star Wars from start to finish (and to head off the inevitable question, in this case that means Episode I to Episode VI), and I came upon a startling realization.

Darth Vader is a lot like Jesus.

Yes, that Jesus*.

How did I come to that conclusion? That's what I'm here to explain; and, as an extra bonus, we'll also see if Jesus is better than Darth Vader or not. Anyone reading this who knows me probably also knows I like Vader quite a bit more than I do Jesus, but I promise to do my best to be impartial.

The comparisons for these two begin before birth. Both of their comings were prophesied, Jesus' by a bunch of old Jewish men, and Vader's by, well, that part is never clarified. Considering "old Jewish men" is better than "unknown," but not by much, Jesus gets the point. While still on the pre-birth topic, both were conceived without an actual father; Jesus by the Holy Spirit, and Vader by the Force. I'm calling that a tie, so it's 2-1 in favor of JC.

In childhood, they both had fairly humble beginnings: young Anakin was a slave who fixed droids, and Jesus was a young carpenter who occasionally told off his religion teachers. That's not too impressive, I told off my religion teachers quite frequently, too. So, Darth ties it up here. Darth gets the next point, too; while Jesus began his life's work by being dunked into a lake by John the Baptist, Anakin was brought before the Jedi Council by Qui-Gon Jinn and trained by Obi-Wan. Jedi beats crazy old forest-wanderer who got beheaded. 3-2, Vader.

How about powers? Vader could force-choke, use telekinesis, and pretty much just feel stuff, which is all kinds of vague. Jesus healed, raised people from the dead, created food, and, most importantly, made sure there was always booze around at weddings; he wins for that last one alone, so we're all tied up again. What else do they have in common? For one thing, they both had followers. Jesus had his apostles, who, y'know, couldn't stay awake when he needed them to, and Vader had his stormtroopers, who couldn't hit anything with guns, TIE fighters, or AT-AT's. Both seem equally useless; however, when Jesus was gone, the apostles kept a church running, while after Vader, the stormtroopers lost an entire Intergalactic Empire. I guess Jesus was a better talent scout, so he goes ahead, 4-3. Speaking of followers, each were betrayed. Judas sold Jesus out, and Anakin Skywalker was betrayed by Obi-Wan Kenobi, except he wasn't, since he was the one who went evil, so really, he did the betraying, right? I guess Jesus gets this one too; except, well, if everything is according to God's plan, then so was Judas' betrayal, so if it was according to plan, it wasn't really a betrayal, was it? Screw it, I'm calling this one a wash, nobody gets a point.

Speaking of Anakin going all evil, they both dealt with temptation. Anakin lost his battle with it and fell to the Dark Side (although, he did it to save his piece o' ass, Natalie Portman, so you can't really blame him). Jesus was tempted by the Devil himself in the middle of a fast in the desert, and still said no. Pretty obvious who wins this one, huh? Jesus is ahead, 5-3.

Damn, Jesus is doing better than I expected. I don't like that. Impartiality sucks!

What else do they have in common? How about the big, dramatic 2-point story arc of death and resurrection? Jesus was killed by old Jewish men, went to Hell and redeemed man's sins, came back from the dead, appeared to his followers, and ascended to Heaven. Anakin Skywalker was hacked to pieces by Obi-Wan, descended into the hell that was life stuck in the Vader suit, redeemed his sin and balanced the Force when he killed the Emperor, was reborn as Anakin, and became one with the Force. Who gets the edge here? Vader. Why? C'mon, becoming Darth Vader is way more awesome than going to Hell! There's a point for Darth for that; he also gets a point for cooler "murderer" in Obi-Wan. So we're all tied up at 5. This calls for a tiebreaker!

And the tiebreaker category is... progeny! Jesus allegedly had none. Vader fathered the great hero Luke Skywalker, so he gets a point for that. Then again, he also fathered the annoying bitch-goddess that is Princess Leia (side-note: I saw a midnight show of Revenge of the Sith the day it came out; when Luke was born at the end, everyone cheered. When Leia was born, it was one big, universal boo.) , so he loses a point for that, and we're tied at 5 again.

New tiebreaker... lovelife! Jesus didn't have any progeny because he rolled with hookers who were willing to bathe his feet and whatnot, and he wasn't hittin' any of them. Anakin, on the other hand, was hilting his lightsaber in Natalie Portman, so he gets the point.

And with that, Darth Vader wins 6-5, and is better than Jesus.

See, I was totally impartial the entire time...

*That is, of course, if you believe any of that Jesus stuff happened. We here at Shootin' Straighter Than A Stormtrooper haven't come down one way or the other yet.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Noteable Quotables.

Okay, so, one of the things I said I'd be doing on this blog is revisiting some of my old MySpace blogs, just for nostalgia's sake, and I do fully intend to do that. Before I do that, though; one of the things I used to do on that old blog is include a quote of the day, some random one-liner or conversation snippet that was usually the most hysterical thing I heard that day. What I'm going to do here right now is post all of the ones that I have saved. Why? Well, for my friends reading this, it'll be a delicious walk down memory lane, and for new people reading this who either missed those quotes before or don't actually know my friends, well, it'll be one hell of an introduction. So, without further ado...

1. Said by someone I worked with at Gold's Gym a few years ago: "Could you guys try to have more self-respect for me?"

2. Nick, to Marc: "If Ghengis Khan had a time machine, he would use it to punch your mother in the gut while she was pregnant."

3. Either Nick or me, I can't remember for sure: "I don't wanna be the guy who writes Sgt. Pepper. I wanna be the guy who writes songs good enough to get him brain every night."

4. This line got an excited eyebrow-raise from Chris: "Seth Green is Audrey-sized."

5. A conversation between Nick and myself follows:

Nick: "I would let Ed Norton fuck me. In fact I would let Ed Norton and John Cusack fuck me."

Me: "You know how I know you're gay?"

Nick: "Because I would let Ed Norton and John Cusack fuck me?"

Me: "No, you couldn't stop Ed Norton. You're gay because you'd let John Cusack join in."

Nick: (hysterical laughter)

Me: "The only thing gayer than that would be if you'd fuck Joan Cusack too."

6. Chris, on wanting to stay out of my shenanigans:

Chris: "I have nothing to do with whatever it is you're planning on doing."

Me: "You'd like to think that, wouldn't you?"

7. I have absolutely no way to summarize this one:

Jim: "Marc, Brenna wouldn't fuck you with another woman's vagina."

Chris: "No, she might with another woman's, she's freaky."

Jim: "No, she wouldn't. She'd fuck him with Ray's ass, though."

Marc: "Yes!" (fist-pumps)

8. I don't know why Ray said this, but he did: "If I'm gonna taste anybody's ass, it's gonna be my own."

9. Chris doesn't like having his music messed with: "What is that goddamn bootleg, bootstrap, kid-havin, niggrish bitch doing at the jukebox? She fucks up my Warren Zevon and I'm gonna hafta choke a bitch."

10. Chris, to me, after I messed my knee up on a bus: "You don't even have bad luck. You just have no luck at all. It's because you put the Yoda slippers on; your knee went into exile."

11. Marc really wanted to go on my aborted trip to Hawaii with me:

Me: "Yes, Marc. I’m taking Nick, not you. If I share a room with him, I don’t have to worry about waking up and finding him in my bed clinging to me like I would worry with you."

Marc: "Well yeah he wouldn’t do that. He has a girlfriend."

Me, after a good minute of looking at him in silence: "So you’re saying it would be okay to get into my bed and cling to me while I slept because you’re single?"

So there you go. I also have a list of lines from our college days, the old SFC "Isolate That" collection; maybe I'll post that one of these days. For now, this is just a taste of what you can probably expect to see from this blog.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Welcome My Friends To the Show That Never Ends!

Hey there, gentle readers. It's Jim, and this is my blog. For those of you reading who don't actually know me, I'm a twenty-nine year old man living (or trying to, anyway) in New York City. That life, for better or worse, is almost always an adventure. A long, long time ago in what seems like a galaxy far, far away, I used to have a blog on Myspace. Like everyone else, I eventually stopped using Myspace and moved to Facebook. I love Facebook, but, no blog. So, for me, switching over was like moving to a much nicer neighborhood that doesn't have that one seedy bar with the crackhead sitting outside that you always went to but would never actually admit it. I missed that bar. And the crackhead. So now, I have a blog again.

What can you expect from me? Well, I'm a writer, or, at least, I think I am. So, my goal, aside from ranting and raving about a myriad selection of topics (we'll get to those in a bit) is to polish and expand my writing skills, and to entertain you, all at the same time. Will I be any good at it? I don't know, you tell me. In terms of content, one blog I'm already planning to write is an exploration of Darth Vader as an analogue for Jesus.

Yes, I am a Star Wars Geek.

That brings me to content. I watch a lot of television, so I'll be blogging about that a lot. I'll probably do an "Episode of the Week" column, or something. Likewise, I read a lot of comic books (no, my geekdom is not limited to Star Wars) and will blog about them a lot as well, also probably with a "Comic of the Week" column. I read a lot of books, as well, but probably won't blog about them much, unless something really excites me. Likewise for music, probably won't happen much. Oh, and I will doubtlessly be whining about the Mets quite often...

What about movies? I'm glad you ask. I won't be blogging about movies all that often; however, my best friend Nick and I will be blogging about movies often and awesomely at Heckling from the Balcony. (shameless plug!)

The other thing I plan on doing, probably weekly for awhile, is a Blast From the Past column, where I'll post some of those old Myspace blogs, mostly to bring back some memories for me and my friends. I have a wonderful, eccentric bunch of friends, and as time goes on, I'm sure they'll all show up here as well.

So come and join me. It's going to be a bumpy ride, but it's going to be fun as hell, too.