Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Terra(bly Bland) Nova

When I heard about Terra Nova, Fox's new show about people from the future having to travel to love in the days of the dinosaurs because future Earth is too polluted, my first thought was, "What about the butterfly effect?" As a big sci-fi fan, I was immediately interested in the ramifications of the old thing about how killing a butterfly back in the dinosaur era could flood the earth in the present or something equally nutty. To a lesser extent, I was also curious about just how the time travel was pulled off. Imagine my disappoint, then, when in one short scene it is explained that they didn't create time travel but instead took advantage of a rift through time that opened out of nowhere; then amplify my disappointment when they say that the time portal also took them into an alternate timeline so they didn't have to worry about the butterfly effect at all. They used almost those exact words. So, basically what we have here is a drama pretending to be science fiction while removing the science fiction from itself by taking the easy way out and not having to explore any sci-fi issues at all. The writers really should have taken a lesson from Rocky IV...

There really is no easy way out, people.

Take away those elements and what do we have left? A really bland drama about a family with an unnecessarily whiny son, some mysteries ripped straight off of the island from Lost, mostly lifeless acting and dialogue, and some really bad CGI dinosaurs. Seriously, the Jurassic Park dinosaurs looked better than this, and that was eighteen years ago!

Wait, we're how old now??

Terra Nova gets cut from my list, not so much for being bad, because it isn't; it just isn't good, either. There's nothing about to make me want to come back and watch it again. Maybe once Fox cancels it after one season I'll eventually get around to watching it just to see how it ends, but I doubt it. That's five new shows rejected and only 2 Broke Girls making the cut... I'm starting to weep for network television.

In an unrelated note, I am now an ordained minister, capable of performing marriages, funerals, and various other things... I mean, if I can't find a real job, might as well, right?

Yes, yes you can!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Red State of the Union

I've been a fan of Kevin Smith and his movies since the first time I saw Clerks back in 1998... wait, taking a minute to feel old... okay, I'm over it. Anyway, I've seen all of his movies, usually multiple times, and with one or two exceptions, I've enjoyed them all. The thing is, with Kevin Smith movies, you always know what you're going to get... some slapstick, a whole lot of "dick and fart humor," and some heart underneath it all that'll probably lead to a life lesson. That's why a non-comedy from him, the second* of his career, was something I was dying to see but couldn't during the Red State Tour because of how exorbitant the ticket prices were. Forty bucks for a ticket alone just isn't happening. But when I saw the movie was available On Demand, the wait was over.

The "horror film" tagline is a bit inaccurate as Red State is definitely a thriller more than anything else, but if the purpose of the line is to let you know this isn't the usual Kevin Smith fare, well, it definitely is on the money. Right off the bat, it just feels like it was directed by someone else. There's no alternative background music or sarcastic fanboy witticisms. There are a few instances of fratboy humor as three male students get ready to go meet an older lady for a gangbang they arranged online, but when they get there... well, I don't want to spoil anything because I know the majority of people probably haven't seen it yet, but let's be honest; we all know an internet-arranged gangbang probably doesn't end well, right?

Avoiding spoilers, the way I see it is this: Red State has three good things going for it and three bad things working against it. Starting with the good, it's topical. With those idiots in the WBC as the basis for the church/cult in the flick and other idiot preachers like the jackass who predicted and then re-predicted the end of the world all up in the public consciousness these days, it serves to make the film more engrossing. The relatively low budget ($4 million) works for it as well, giving it a much more real, rural feel most of the time. Lastly, there are a few really good acting performances. Kerry Bishe manages to squeeze some likeability out of her role as Cheyenne, one of the members of the church who just wants to do one good thing. John Goodman is great as Special Agent Keenan, the ATF agent in charge of the attempts to bring the church down.

He wasn't quite as awesome as he was here...

But he was definitely more awesome than he was here.

 The whole movie is stolen, however, by Michael Parks performance as Abin Cooper, the reverend in charge, who comes off naturally as completely batshit crazy but also sort of likable; it's easy to see why people might follow him, especially during what is basically a long soliloquy by him not long into the movie.

As for the negatives... for one thing, the fact that this is so afield from what Smith usually does, and such a big deal was made of that fact, that is was difficult for me at least to keep that thought from coming into my head throughout the movie, which decreased my enjoyment at least. Also, in terms of the characters, they all do fairly unsympathetic things during the course of events, making it hard to root for any of them, except for a three kids mentioned earlier; although the fact that they're stupid enough to fall for an online invitation to gangbang a woman they never met makes me root for their deaths. Lastly, there's a moment where it seems like the ending is going one way but then goes another; if it had gone the way it felt like it was at first, it would have been a much more provocative ending, which might have been a better way to go.

All in all though, I do think Red State is a good movie that is worth watching, and I definitely wouldn't mind if Kevin Smith went out of his comfort zone more often to make more movies like this.

*Okay, technically it's the first non-comedy of his career because Jersey Girl is technically classified as a comedy, but come on, that movie just wasn't funny. At all.

Precocious pain in the ass. Oh, yeah, and the girl stinks too.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fiction Fridays - Untitled Magic Story Part 3

Here's my first attempt at some fiction writing now that I'm back to blogging again. It's set in the same story as my previous two Fiction Friday entries (which can be found here and here) but is a bit further ahead in the story, mostly because this scenario popped into my head during my fruitless attempts to sleep last night and I couldn't wait to get into it. So, enjoy. It's a very rough draft, I can already think of changes and additions that I need to make, but I'm pressed for time and wanted to get this up today. Read it; feedback is always appreciated, and occasionally even listened to!

I had a hunch I was in trouble when I woke up and had no idea where I was or how I got there. The fact that it was darker than Mordred’s heart didn’t help. I’ve met Mordred, by the way; he’s every bit the bastard you’d expect the man who ruined Camelot to be. And I don’t buy it when he blames it on the fact that he had an uncle-father and an aunt-mother, there was plenty of incest back in those days and nobody else turned out like him. But I digress.

As I pulled myself to my feet, leaning against the wall I felt behind me to give me some sense of where the hell I was, I searched my mind for any ideas on how I got here, wherever here was, but I was drawing a blank. I reached my left hand out and felt a wall. Same thing when I reached my right hand out. I must have been at the end of a hallway. “Only one way to go,” I muttered as I started walking forward. I kept one hand in front of me at all times to keep myself from bumping into something, alternating hands every few seconds to keep track of the walls on my sides. Honestly, I could have used a minor spell to conjure up some light, but without knowing where I was or what fail-safes might have been around me, that was risky. Better to hold off on that until I had no choice.

And, as my mind started working again, I had to admit I didn’t have a lot of strength left, so it was best to conserve energy. I had used a metric shit-ton of magic on the last job the Covenant had given me, and I was just about spent. I could remember going home after it was done, collapsing on my bed, passing out, and then… nothing, till I woke up here, wherever the hell here was.

After a few minutes of walking, I felt a wall in front of me. I reached my arms out to both sides, even going so far as to lean back and forth in each direction; the walls to the sides of me had stopped. With no idea where I was or where to turn now, I had no choice but to cast a light spell. Fully aware of just how close to empty my tank was, I kept it as simple as possible, whispering a quick “Lumini” enchantment and snapping my fingers. A small light flickered to life where my fingers connected, giving me a brief glance of where I was before it went out again. And that glance was more than enough.

I was in the Corridors.

The Corridors, where any poor bastard caught violating the Covenant’s laws were kept until they were ready to be sentenced. But I hadn’t broken any laws; in fact, as a Jack, I worked for the Covenant! And why were the lights out? Whenever anyone was kept in the Corridors, the lights were blazing and there were Magistrates watching their every move. Magistrates… thinking of them brought another little factoid bubbling up to the surface of my rapidly less and less addled brain: only Magistrates or members of the Covenant could place someone into the Corridors, or take someone out. Which meant…

“Crowley’s charred crimson cock,” I swore vehemently.

“Ah, finally realization dawns,” a voice called to me from the darkness. I could tell it was being magically altered to distort both the sound of the voice and its distance from me. “Good. This will be so much more entertaining for me now that you understand exactly what is going on.”

Joke's on him, whoever he is, I thought darkly. I might have known that I was royally fucked, but understanding exactly what was going on? I didn’t have the first damn clue.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's No Angel

I'm going to be honest here. The original Charlie's Angels wasn't very good. Face it. The only reason it was popular and successful was because it featured female leads in an action program, a rarity for it's time, and it was probably the sexiest thing going on TV in those days. So the idea of remaking sounds pretty good, right? You know, if you ignore those godawful Drew Barrymore movies...

"What's a good plate with nothing on it?" has never been more relevant.

Except there's a few problems with that idea. For one thing, in the days of True Blood, Spartacus, Shameless, and anything else on premium cable, nothing on ABC is going to be nearly sexy enough for someone in grammar school, let alone the rest of the population. For another thing, between the X-Files, Buffy, Alias, and how many other shows, female action leads are almost becoming more common than male leads. So any potential remake made in 2011 already lacks the two things the original had going for it... and then you make Drew Barrymore executive producer?

Yeah, this will go well.

Even the second Bosley thinks this is a bad idea... and he's dead!

I made it through about thirty-five minutes of tonight's premier of the new Charlie's Angels before I had to turn it off. Aside from a recycled plot seen in just about any police/detective program in the history of, like, ever, the acting was truly horrible. Of course, I don't know if I can blame that on the cast; after all, I don't think anyone can deliver gems like "We're not cops, we're angels," and "We're angels, not saints," with any kind of talent and conviction. All of which is a shame because it makes it completely unwatchable, which means I'll have to miss the gorgeous Minka Kelly on a weekly basis.

Reason #18,769 why I hate Derek fucking Jeter.

It's a toss-up between whether this awful excuse for television or the steaming mess that is The Playboy Club will get cancelled first. So far, out of five new shows now, 2 Broke Girls is the only one that's made it to the second week.

I weep for network television.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How I Met Your Monday Night Line-Up

Remember how I said a lot of my blogs will probably be written in a hungover haze? This is going to be one of those.

For the last few years, Monday nights have been the biggest TV night of the week for me, with as many as six shows I was watching at one point. Last night was no exception, with four different shows on my schedule making their season premieres (with two more scheduled to start in the next month or so, so I'm back up to six). The first was returning fave How I Met Your Mother, which is both my favorite comedy on right now and the burr in the saddle of my life all at the same time. One the one hand, just tell me who the friggin' mother is already! And on the other hand, once we know who the mother is... good-bye, favorite comedy, in all likelihood.

Frustration, thy name is Mosby.

My new favoritest picture ever.

(For a great article on HIMYM and just how awesome the storytelling on that show is, go here: The Next "Lost" Has Been Here All Along because, let's face it, it probably does a better job of praising the show than I could right now.)

After HIMYM, I checked out the new show, 2 Broke Girls. Full disclosure? I was only watching it because I think Kat Dennings is both gorgeous and talented (and if you've seen the pictures of her that popped up a year ago, you've seen quite a bit of her talents), so imagine my surprise when it actually had me full-on belly-laughing at a few points. Sure, her character got all the good lines and the rest of the show needs some work, but it was enough to get me to come back next week.

The next new show I checked out, The Playboy Club, did not fair nearly as well. I made it through about twenty minutes before the fight between plot, dialogue, and acting over which was the more abysmally awful made it too painful to watch anymore. Not even the amazingly sexy and lesbianic Amber Heard could save this show.

I'm really hoping The Playboy Club makes like Lonestar did last year and becomes the first show of the season to get cancelled after like three episodes. It joins The Secret Circle in getting removed off my list.

Lastly, Castle's fourth season premiered last night. Back when this show started as a mid-season replacement back in March of 2009, as much as I liked it, I figured it wasn't going to last. Boy, am I glad I was wrong. I honestly think it's become one of the best shows on television, and the finale last season was honestly my favorite season finale of the year. Aside from just how awesome Nathan Fillion is, the rest of the cast is fantastic. Also, and I can't stress this enough, one of the show's greatest strength is that they learned a lesson from Moonlighting: keep the romance between the leads unconsummated at all costs! As much as we want them to get together while we watch, once they do, the show fundamentally changes, and probably not for the better. Just look at how bad House got when House and Cuddy finally got together. Ugh.

Also, I caught the Charlie Sheen Roast... all I really have to say is that WIlliam Shatner, Patrice O'Neal, and whoever wrote Mike Tyson's material were pretty funny; the rest of the show was definitely not #winning.

(Additional note: After trying to watch the second episode of Ringer tonight, that got cut as well, making 2 Broke Girls the only new show out of four so far this season to actually survive so far.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Schedule... Blame it on the OCD!

Just for your amusement, I'll admit to the fact that my personal brand of OCD forces me to make an Excel spreadsheet of the Fall season so I know what I'm watching, and when.

Click to enlarge!

Yeah, laugh at me all you want. FYI, The Secret Circle has already been dropped off the list. Maybe I'll wait until everything has premiered and then I'll repost what it looks like after I've made some cuts.

God, I need a life.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The To-Do List

It's not exactly a big secret that my life is in a bit of a shambles right now. Unemployment, debt, sick grandparents, etc. So, with that in mind, I've put together a list of the things I need to do to right the ship before I make like the Titanic and die in a spectacularly long and bad movie.

1.) Get a job with decent pay and benefits, because I'm closer to thirty-one than thirty now and benefits are becoming more and more important... it's only a matter of time til my liver needs some attention! And I really need a phone that doesn't suck. Plus, I've got exactly four weeks of unemployment benefits left before I join the Fully Financially Fucked Foundation.

2.) Get laid. Yes, we'll see some things on this list that seem like a bigger priority, but intimacy is a basic human need and, well, let's face it, I'm in a dry spell so long it makes the Jews who wandered the desert for forty years look positively dewy.

3.) Pay off the student loans and hospital bills I am slowly drowning under, especially now that there are letters from lawyers arriving. Of course, without making #1 happen, this is impossible.

4.) Move the hell out of this house that is rapidly becoming a hospice. Aside from keeping me from slowly going crazy, this will help with #2, but is also impossible without #1.

5.) Find a diet I can stick to that doesn't make me absolutely miserable because I'm not allowed to eat anything that actually tastes like anything. There's only so much cereal, grilled chicken, tuna, and fat-free everything a man can take. Again, this will help with #2 but is sort of dependent on #1 for more choices... plus, let's be honest, the expensive crap that tastes like dry ass is more expensive than any of the stuff that tastes good.

6.) Write more. Hello, blog! And hey, this is free, so screw you, #1!!! Of course, unless someone out there is really turned on by semi-witty blogs, this ain't getting me anywhere with that pesky #2...

7.) Get this ordination taken care of so I can be the officiant at my friends' wedding like they asked me to. It's a nice thing to do and I'm looking forward to it. And who knows, maybe it'll make me a little extra cash here and there. Also, I get to pick my title, like "Magus" or even "Archangel." Thoughts?

So that's the list. There are probably some other things that would come to me if I really thought about it, but those are definitely the pressing needs in front of me at the moment. Hopefully I'll be able to cross some of these off soon. Either way, I'm sure updates will be appearing here as needed... so y'all come back now, ya hear?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Breaking the Circle

Okay, so, full disclosure? I've been hungover as hell all day, which is weird, because I don't think I actually drank that much last night... anyway, because of the happy combination of a hangover and exhaustion and me starting this at four minutes after midnight, if this blog lacks that certain je ne sais quoi, well, tough.

Plus, I'm totally being distracted by this on TV right now:

Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?
Anyway, it's a well-known fact that I watch a lot of television, and people often ask me what I think of different shows. With that in mind, and with the new season starting up, I've decided to blog my opinions about the new TV shows I start watching, like I did with Ringer the other day. And sometimes I'll talk about the returning favorites too. Such as The Vampire Diaries, which I've always been a big fan of. Ridiculous name aside, this show just started it's third season and hasn't had a bad episode yet. It's easily my favorite part of the vampire wave around; of course it's better than Twilight because, even though some of the vampires are able to walk in the sun, they don't friggin' sparkle. While True Blood might get the edge in shock value, sex, and gore, it's been a mess in terms of story and characters for the last two years while TVD has believeable characters and a tight storyline that just keeps growing and growing.
So, because of my fondness for TVD, when I learned the creators of the show had another new show starting this season, I ignored the way the commercials triggered my spider-sense and watched the premier of The Secret Circle anyway. I'll let this clip describe how I felt about my decision after I watched the show. 

Just awful. Every single cliche you can think of... dead parents, parents with secrets, the bitchy high school girl, the list goes on... was pretty much just thrown into a big bowl of awful and served cold. And don't get me started on the acting. Even the star, Britt Robertson, was terrible, and I've loved her in everything else I've seen her in (seriously, the CW cancelled Life Unexpected and put her in this instead? That's a move so stupid I'd almost think someone from Fox made the decision...).
Next time I want to see witches, I'll just watch The Craft, which this show is pretty clearly ripping off in, like, every conceivable way. The Secret Circle gets the dubious honor of being the first show cut from my viewing schedule. And I'm pretty sure it won't be the last; I'm looking at you, Playboy Club.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ringing in the Fall Season

Anybody else remember this show?

I do. Swan's Crossing aired for like four months way back in 1992... Christ, I feel old. Anyway, it was a pretty terrible show, an attempt at a daily soap opera for teenagers that featured, among other things, Russian spies in a submarine. As a show, it's beyond forgettable; so forgettable, in fact, that I can't even find a way to download it off the internet, and I was able to find the full series of Are You Afraid of the Dark? online. The only reason I bring this show up is that it was the first show to star Sarah Michelle Gellar, and, as such, it was the first time I saw her and where she became the first crush eleven-year-old Jimmy ever had.

From Swan's Crossing, she went on to a roll on All My Children for a handful of years, which I caught bits and pieces of here and there because my grandmother followed that show closer than Jews follow the dollar. Then, of course, there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which most people know is my favorite show of all time. Granted, not because of her but because of the total package, although she definitely helped.

I go through this roundabout spiel to point out that I've seen every TV show SMG has ever starred in, so it was only fitting that her return to television was the first show of the Fall TV season to premiere for me.

So how was it? Convoluted as hell. You might have heard the plot; she plays twins who haven't seen each other in years because one is a junkie and the other is rich. Long story short, when they do finally meet again the rich one disappears mysteriously and the junkie assumes her life because she's running from both the FBI and Native American gangsters.

There's a sentence I never thought I'd type.

Anyway, she finds out her rich sister's life isn't all it was cracked up to be, and let's face it, nobody's is. There are plenty of twists and turns in the first episode... too many, honestly, but I imagine that was necessitated to set things up and won't be the norm. The acting is fairly solid; aside from SMG the cast features Ioan Griffud (a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic) and a bunch of people you've never heard of. Well, and Mr. Eyeliner himself:

It's like his eyelashes are looking into my soul, man!

The only real gripe I have with the show so far is how many damn mirror shots there are. The first one is genius; in it the sisters are face-to-face in a mirrored closet, giving the impression there are, like, forty of them... and, let me tell you, forty SMGs would have been just too much for eleven-year-old Jimmy's brain to handle. But from there, there's a mirror shot in just about every scene, and it goes from a clever technique to a cute affectation to flat-out annoying real quick. That one complaint aside, the show was definitely interesting enough to at least get me to want to watch the second episode. Only time will tell, though, if this is another Buffy... or just another swan crossing in the night.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Episode VI: Return of the... Blogger.

That's right, I'm back. At least, I hope I'm back. I intend to blog much more often now. Partly, it's because I'm just really bored. Partly, it's because people have suggested that I should start again because they enjoy reading what I write. And partly, it's because I just really feel like I need to write something, anything, before I lose what little is left of my mind.

So I'll be writing about the same things I always used to: some fiction if I ever write any; my life; comic books, of course; novels; and movies (I'll probably steal some ideas from good ol' Heckling from the Balcony. Yes, I know it's currently defunct, but there were some good ideas there, and I'm linking it because there were plenty of fun blogs to read and you should go do that sometime). There might even be a guest blogger or two along the way, if some of the ideas I have pan out.

Next season, I might even blog about the Mets again. You know, if they aren't still making me want to slit my wrists.

As I tried to hold to last time around, I'll be funny, maybe thought-provoking, and always honest... and anyone who really knows me knows that that last part might get me into trouble, which, hey, will doubtlessly be damn fun to watch. It all starts tomorrow with a real blog, get in the car and come along for the ride. Who wants shotgun?