I burned up my old tax documents from more than a decade ago. I could have shredded them, but it was a nice night for a fire. And the cat seemed to enjoy the show.

This morning I had some weekend coffee, finished my taxes, paid my insurance bill, and played The Sims 4 for a long bit. It was a productive morning all-in-all. Expensive, but productive. I mean, I’m getting a refund on the taxes, but the insurance… damn. Why is insurance so expensive.

Word is that it’s because of the unlimited medical coverage required here in Michigan. But I think that’s changing. I don’t expect any of us to see any significant change in our rates. If you’re curious, I’m paying about 35% of my car payments for insurance. Meanwhile, I’m driving a company vehicle 90% of the time and the vehicles I’m insuring are sitting in the driveway. When I think about it… it’s frustrating.

That was a bit of an aside. Sorry.

We finished Mr. Robot, or rather, we finished the free bits of Mr. Robot. Prime Video would like to sell me each of the episodes that make up season 4, but while I thought the series was interesting, it’s not “pay for it” interesting. I’m sticking by my stance that this show is weird. I mean it is both weird and also takes some weird twists.

We’ve moved on to American Gods, but I only have the first season of that and, again, I’m not looking to buy anything else. I like it. But, c’mon, if I’m paying for Xfinity, Amazon Prime, Disney+Hulu, and Netflix already, why would I pay extra for more stuff. I already have so much more than I’ll ever be able to watch it’s almost unreal. Besides, I still haven’t watched the BBC/Netflix Dracula show.

Friday night we watched Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Got any guesses as to my thoughts on this one? If you guessed that I thought it was mostly boring and pointless, well, you guessed right. Sure, the acting was good, but you had a couple of aging actors playing a couple of aging actors, so that should be an easy roll to pull off. Mostly, it felt like a great big love fest to all the things about old Hollywood that Tarantino thinks are cool, plus a bunch of boring and pointless stuff. Then you get some good stuff at the hippy ranch. More boring stuff. And then a pretty amusing and entertaining, if over the top, finale.

So, if you’re a fan of actors, these particular actors, period films, or this director, maybe go see it. If you’re looking to be entertained and get your money’s worth, probably don’t.

There you go another movie review from someone who doesn’t much like movies. Later.

“The thing you don’t realize about “adulting” is just how constant it is. There is always something that needs to be done and so very many things that only you can address. Basically, “relaxing” is just short-hand for, I’m ignoring the half-a-million things I should be doing.”

–Ronn McCarrick

Did I mention that I watched The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot? If you haven’t seen it, the title kinda tells you what it’s about. Sam Elliot is the man in question and he’s good, but then he’s always good. You can get it on Hoopla. It worked for me in the same way that Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino did, only with Hitler and bigfoot. As a schlocky B-movie, probably, it’s not working quite so well.

I’m not sure that it’s really a four star movie, but it’s closer to four than three. So, four it is. It’s not a comedy, so don’t go in expecting to get the giggles. Really, it’s more of a character study. I don’t want to give anything away, but I was disappointed with their bigfoot. Budget?

Rotten Tomatoes sums it up pretty well, the movie follows the epic adventures of an American legend that no one has ever heard of. Since WWII, Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott) has lived with the secret that he was responsible for the assassination of Adolf Hitler. Now, decades later, the US government has called on him again for a new top-secret mission. Bigfoot has been living deep in the Canadian wilderness and is carrying a deadly plague that is now threatening to spread to the general population. Relying on the same skills that he honed during the war, Calvin must set out to save the free world yet again.

I liked it. This is probably because I had no expectations of it.

Last nights guitar lesson added 8th notes to my repertoire of quarter and half notes. I’m struggling a bit with timing, finger placement, and strumming the right string, but it hasn’t even been a month yet. Still haven’t officially moved into chords, but I was playing around with a few this weekend… not with any success. I really need to get up onto the tips of my fingers more and stay off the meaty bits.

I’ve been agonizing and worrying over the Home page of this site. Which is dumb, given how little traffic it sees. But it’s what I do. The gist is that I’m not happy with it, it doesn’t compell interest, it doesn’t tell visitors what they’re getting, and all those things are issues because even after 13-years I still don’t know what I’m doing with this website. I need to stop worrying and just let it be, but what fun would that be. Any suggestions? I’m open to your thoughts on the matter. Hell, I’m open to hearing what you think this site is about.

After another evening of watching Poledark with the lovely Lady Ronn, I was scrolling through Amazon Prime Video and came across something that I didn’t know existed. A documentary about the art of Dungeons & Dragons back in the old TSR days.

I immediately started watching it, which probably was not appreciated by everyone in the room, but whatever. It wasn’t great, but if you’re a longtime gamer like me and have lots of good memories about all that old D&D art, you’ll enjoy it. I know I did.

trailer

My favorite tidbit was that artist Jack Fred was a pseudonym used by the artists, when a particular piece of art was felt to be subpar and they didn’t want to be associated with it.

It was an interesting watch and it was interesting to see and hear from each of the artists, most of whom I only know from their art. Check it out if you’re into this sort of thing.

Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons and Dragons
Documentary 2019 1h 31min
A documentary that explores the history & stories behind the art that helped create the world’s most popular role playing game. The movie profiles artists – both past & present – & features former company insiders, game designers, authors, & fans.

Eye of the Beholder

Appearances by Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley, Clyde Caldwell, Erol Otus, Tony DiTerlizzi, Brom, Todd Lockwood, Tom Babbey, Peggy Cooper, Darlene, Jeff Dee, Randy Gallegos, Ralph Horsley, Jennell Jaquays, Tim Kask, Dana Knutson, Diesel LaForce, Brynn Metheney, Dawn Murin, Steve Prescott, Harry Quinn, Jon Schindehette, Chris Seaman, Matthew Stawicki, Margaret Weiss, Tom Wham, Ralph Horsley

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year’s eve, and that the new year is treating you well. I’m back from my vacation. We went down to Florida and visited my mother and sister for Christmas, celebrated the New Year in West Virginia, and made it back in time for work on the 2nd. It was a nice trip, and despite the length, it didn’t feel long enough. But then it never does.

So, back to real life.

The new semester started for me on the 7th. Just two classes this semester and each is just a single night… it’s like I’m not even in school. I’m so used to being in class four nights a week that this lighter schedule is a welcome break. The added bonus is that both classes start at 6:00 PM, which means I’ve got time between work and class to take a breath and maybe grab a sandwich. These are my last two HVAC courses and I’m really liking the way this is playing out.

In other news, I watched Ready Player One last night. I thought it was entertaining enough, but I still am not interested enough to read the book. It was one of those movies that I enjoyed, but will forget pretty quickly.

Hey, I watched some movies and I want to tell you about them. None of these three movies made me happy that I watched them. Logan came closest, but that was more from a sense of being in the loop with regard to superhero movies and the end of an era. I think I would have enjoyed finishing up Penny Dreadful on Netflix more than I enjoyed any of these films.


LOGAN

In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.
First off, let me say that I have seen the first three x-men movies and that Wolverine origin movie, I missed the rest of them, and didn’t even realize there was a The Wolverine movie until I started this post. I was never a fan of Wolverine the character, or of the Jackman casting for Wolverine, but he’s done a good job and the fans seem to like him. So my initial reaction to this movie is; Alright, he’s old now, but what’s the big deal. After watching the movie my opinion is more like; eh, it was alright. It was a good send off for Jackman and Stewart. Probably we shouldn’t make any more movies about geriatric super heroes.
Logan is one of the few remaining mutants, and despite being the best at what he does, even though that isn’t very nice, he’s given it all up to drive for uber and be a nurse to Professor X. Oh, and he is married to some albino guy who is never explained and who I have no idea who he is or what he’s supposed to be. Then this kid and her mom show up and ask for a ride to the secret mutant sanctuary. Grumpy Logan says no, because he’s grumpy. Then the guys with prosthetic hands show up and start trying to kill everybody… seriously there are like 20 guys who are each missing a hand and have these stupid looking bionic arms. No explanation, just like here, check this out. Bionics. Pretty sweet, huh. I wasn’t impressed. Everybody that survives hops into the limo and they go on a road trip. They bring in the clones. Some more people die. They go to a cabin in the woods. Big epic super showdown. The bad guys die. The good guys die. The kid walks off to Canada to watch hockey and eat pancakes.
It was probably more emotional than that for most, but I guess I’m not most. It was a good movie, but not one I cared about or was impressed with. I was left thinking, what’s the big deal about this? Is it because Jackman is leaving the role? That must be it. How come nobody seems to make a big deal about Stewart being done?  Oh well, I saw it. I’m sure I’ll forget it was a thing soon enough. I’m going to give this movie one extra star, because I also watched Valerian and I don’t want to give that one two stars, and because these two movies shouldn’t get the same rating.


THE EMOJI MOVIE

Take an adventure in the secret world inside your smartphone to Textopolis, a bustling city where all your favorite emojis live. In this world, each emoji has only one facial expression – except for Gene (T.J. Miller), who is bursting with multiple expressions. Determined to become “normal”, Gene enlists the help of his handy best friend Hi-5 (James Corden) and the notorious code breaker emoji Jailbreak (Anna Faris). Together, these unlikely heroes embark on an epic “app-venture” through the apps on the phone, each its own wild and fun world, to find the code that will fix Gene!
Wholly fuck, this movie is dumb. Who decided this should be a thing.
I put this on as a fluke, just to check it out while I was waiting for Lady Ronn, somehow it played through to the end. Is it the worst movie of all time? No. Is it a stupid idea with the sole intent to be a cash-grab? Oh, hell yes. I wouldn’t say it’s a disaster on every level. But I might say, nearly every level. Sure, it’s got decent animation and a recognizable cast of voice actors, but is that all that matters? What about plot and story? This thing is unoriginal, the plot is nearly nonexistent and filled with holes; big, dumb holes. As an added bonus, because this one is for the kids, it’s got one-note characters (they’re emoji, so I guess that makes it okay), cheap jokes, confusing and mostly dumb world-building,  lots of product placement, dated references, flat voice acting, and of course the message that every child in america needs… your phone is the most important thing in your life. Love your phone. It hits all the bases for a second tier animated kids flick’s it’s colorful, dull, over the top, joyless, ripe with toy possibilities, kind of crass, empty, and ridiculously boring experience. I’d like to say unimaginative, but somebody came up with enough stuff to fill 86 minutes of screen time about emoji, that takes some imagination. I don’t know why I watched this. I don’t think you should watch it. And most definately don’t share this with your children. Think of the children. Spare the children. I’ll give it a star, it might have earned two, but I’m not willing to give it that benefit of the doubt. 


VALERIAN

In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha–an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.
Bad characters. Uninteresting story. Bad pacing. Silly world building. No emotional involvement by the cast or the audience. Just not a good movie.
Dane DeHann as Major Valerian is terrible, unbelievable, unlikable, and has the charisma of a turd. Cara Delevingne as  Sergeant Laureline is better; better in every single scene. The two of them have a chemistry that can only be called, nonexistent. The idea that these two characters are in love and that they are going to get married is, well, it’s unbelievable. Rihanna is in this movie, that’s probably a thing for some of you. She sings and dances and changes clothes before becoming a gummy-blob and then dying. It’s dumb. This whole movie is dumb. Every scene in this movie goes on too long. And that is exactly what this movie is, a series of overlong scenes of things that they thought were cool. Cool space station turned intergalactic world city. Cool virtual reality market. Cool effects. Cool aliens. Cool spaceships. Cool disregard for rules and ranks. There is a lot of cool in this film. The problem being that I don’t think this film understands what is and what isn’t cool. Many of the things Valerian thinks are cool are lame, derivative, unoriginal, and poorly done.
I was just plain bored by this movie. Every part of it. Every single bit. I don’t think I had a single, “Wow, that was cool” moment throughout. It was like watching somebody mash up Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar, and a couple other films I haven’t seen into one thing. And that thing was not very good. Cara Delevingne was pretty good, but the rest was typical, throw away Hollywood garbage that nobody will remember in two years.



Google Play offered me a $1.99 rental and this weekend the wife and I watched the latest spider-man movie. I was a little surprised, after all the talk about it being “the greatest superhero movie of all time, ever. So good. Great, really.” Or whatever it is that Trump had to say about it. I was a little let down by the whole thing. I enjoyed it. I thought it was pretty good, but I’m not convinced it should have gotten so much rah-rah hype.
First, let’s establish where I’m at and where I’m coming from. The last spider-man film I saw was Spider-Man 2, back in 2004. I liked the first two Tobey Maguire quite a bit. I never saw the third movie in that series, and I never saw either of the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man movies. So I cannot compare this to those three films. I did see the 1967 cartoon reruns throughout my childhood and watched 1977 live action TV series as a kid when it came out. Also, I looked forward to seeing Spider-Man on the Electric Company. So, I think it’s fair to say that, I’m not completely out of the Spider-Man loop.
Second, I was not one who was waiting for Spider-Man to come back into the Marvel fold. I didn’t care if Spider-Man, Ironman, the Hulk, Captain America, and Namor ever got together in some sort of live action Marvel cartoon class of ’66 reunion. I admit that Marvel has done well with their characters in their movies, and I think they should, what with all the “theirs” I’m throwing around in that sentence. But I don’t think Marvel has a monopoly on making super hero movies… despite the box office evidence to the contrary.
So, Spider-Man Homecoming. Let me say that I think the new costume is passable, but that I’m not a fan. I don’t like all the little black stripes on the costume, the eyes are neat (in an unnecessary way), and all the electric gizmos and gadgets built in make it feel more Iron-Spider (yes, I know that’s a real thing. Not what I mean, but I’m aware) than Spider-Man. I liked all the tie-ins with the previous movies and the way the villain was using those events to create his stuff. I get that this was a HUGE deal for Marvel to get to make a Spider-Man movie, and so they threw the bank at the movie. But I didn’t really need quite so much of the Ironman/Robert Downey Jr stuff, how many times can we check in with Happy, and even the Penny Potts ending added nothing. Perhaps they should have spent a little more money and made it into a buddy movie with our two heroes. It was a little bit like getting his iron chocolate in Spider-Man’s gooey, webby peanut butter. I guess that’s why it’s a universe of films, because you can’t find the boundaries for any one of them, they all blend together.
Michael Keaton was good. Nice take on the Vulture. The shocker… garbage. Both times. Garbage.
Peter Parker was good. The high school stuff was mostly good. The best friend was good. The girlfriend was kind of a throwaway, so we can get to MJ or Gwen in upcoming films. Was there really nothing between the red hoodie and goggles and the super tech Stark spider virtual pajamas. Hasn’t every version of Spider-Man ever made his own suit?
Nice tie-in with the title and I like the Vulture being a vulture. Good work there. So mostly good. Very good even. But in some ways it felt too Marvel, and not enough Spider, for my tastes and expectations. I don’t understand the fever of hype and all the raving about this movie, but I did enjoy it and I’m comfortable giving it four out of five stars.

Just trying to be funny there folks. I know it’s not a sequel to Jungle Book. That kid was raised by wolves. This kid was raised by apes. I don’t think they were even in the same jungle. Though both were enjoyable movies in their own rights. Let’s talk about The Legend of Tarzan
I only recently listened to the audiobooks for Edgar Rice Burrough’s first two Tarzan books; Tarzan of the Apes (1912) and The Return of Tarzan (1913). I was both surprised by them and enjoyed them immensely. The Tarzan of those two books is not the Tarzan of television and movie fame in many ways. Hollywood always makes changes, some aesthetic, some practical, and some just for the sake of making changes. That’s just the way Hollywood does things. But the gist of things is that Tarzan is a man raised by apes.

I was excited when I saw the preview for this movie. It looked promising. Good CGI. Good actors. Seems pretty accurate to the source material. Last night I watched this movie and I’d like to share my opinions and observations with you, so that you can decide if you want to watch this movie.

  • I’d like more Tarzan and less politics, please.
  • There were some unnecessary changes made to the backstory in typical Hollywood fashion.
  • You have to remember that Tarzan is a superhero. He’s batman without the suit. Crazy strong. Crazy smart. Heightened senses. And he has a British title and estate.
  • Get Samuel L. Jackson out of this movie. What the hell, man. This guy is the Jar Jar Binks of Tarzan. Why is he here? His character adds nothing to this movie that couldn’t have been accomplished with one of the other characters.
  • Good Tarzan. Good John Clayton. Believable. I can see this guy as Tarzan. Did you know Tarzan was a special agent for the British government? Well, he was.
  • Good Jane. They made a lot of changes to her character to make her stronger and more important to the story, which was not so much the case in 1912. Burroughs had written Jane off, but the public outcry for more Jane was such that he had to put her back in the stories.
  • The film maker seems to be trading too much on having Harley Quinn (Suicide Squad) and Eric Northman (True Blood) in his movie. Nothing the actors are doing, just an impression I’m left with. And why is Samuel L. Jackson in here? Just to be Samuel L. Jackson seems to be the answer we’re left with.
  • The villains were good and their motivation seemed both believable and understandable. Though, I’ll say it again, they seemed to spend too much time on this and not enough time showing us Tarzan doing cool shit.
  • Any number of the African tribesmen could have made a better, more understandable sidekick than Sam Jackson.
  • Why is Tarzan friends with the lions? Perhaps something I didn’t get around to reading/listening too, there are twenty-four Tarzan novels by Burroughs alone and I don’t know how many by other authors.
  • Tarzan’s brother kicked the shit out of him, which is good because without his steel fang (knife) or lasso I don’t know that he was ever capable of beating one of these big ass apes. That’s how it played out in the books anyway.
  • There’s not a lot of depth here. But what the fuck did you expect, it’s a story about a man raised by apes. Jane gets captured and Tarzan saves her, seems like a pretty good Tarzan story to me.
  • Could it be better. Yes. Is it bad. No. Just get Samuel L. Jackson out of it and it’ll go up a full star, maybe two. Why is he here?

I hope you found that in someway helpful. I enjoyed the movie, but it was not without it’s flaws. Did I mention Samuel L. Jackson? Yeah, get rid of that fucker, he done messed up a decent movie.

He Never Died; I watched this movie tonight. Not really sure how I feel about it. There is part of me that thinks I should watch it again to see what I missed, but I don’t really want to watch it again. It was both interesting and entertaining in a what-the-hell kind of way. I don’t know that I could recommend it, but I didn’t dislike it.

I laughed, I cringed, I was never sure what the hell was going on or what the point was, and then it ended. I think that sums it up.

Tarzan

 
Not too long ago I listened to the first two Tarzan novels on audiobook. In particular, I picked up The Tarzan Duology from audible,  narrated by Finn J.D. John. The books are pretty different from the old TV shows. In a ‘way better’ sort of way. With the 20% off coupon Barnes & Noble sent me this week, I picked up the leather bound collection of the first three Tarzan stories. Over the weekend I took advantage of the Audible 2-for-1 sale and picked up The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. And now this…

I like Alexander Skarsgård, or rather I liked him in True Blood, not so much in Battleship. This movie isn’t starting at the beginning; Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment. So I shouldn’t have to cringe every time they get the book wrong… But they already did that in the trailer… damn, Hollywood. The CG looks good. It’s not a superhero movie. It’s Tarzan. I’ll give this one a shot. Hopefully they will do more justice to this Edgar Rice Burroughs property than they did to John Carter of Mars.

Happy April 1st. I hope your day went well and that you didn’t get fooled to badly. I don’t have a prank for you today. But I do have a thing that might make you think I’m a little foolish in my thinking.
I don’t know what makes Audible books different from Amazon movies, but for some reason I’m okay with one and uneasy with the other. For some reason not having a physical copy of my movie bothers me a bit. Not so much with a book. It’s strange and probably a little foolish, I know.
I may be a fool, but having still not seen the latest Star Wars movie and given that the digital HD copy from Amazon was less than 20-bucks… I bought the thing.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Plus Bonus Features) <b>Amazon Instant Video</b> ~ Harrison Ford
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Plus Bonus Features)
Link: http://amzn.com/B019EG1TC8


And given that I’ve already jumped the shark at this point, I decided to go whole hog and get the rest of the movies as well. Because, if you’re going to pay real money for something you can’t hold in your hand you might as well get the whole nonexistent package.

Star Wars The Digital Six film Collection <b>Amazon Video</b> ~ Lucasfilm
Star Wars The Digital Six film Collection
Link: http://amzn.com/B00VJ04TH0


So tonight I’m going to sit on my couch and check out the new Star Wars. And then I’m going to keep my promise and call Gary to talk about it, because I said I would. Gary liked it. The internet seems to have liked it. Hopefully, I too will like it.

A New Hope
A New Hope

Sunday has apparently become movie day. So here we are another Sunday at the movies. Same cinema, different theater. This time we went all out and got soda and popcorn… it’s that kind of movie.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Terminator or any of its sequels. I liked Terminator, thought it was cool at the time, but couldn’t really count it as one of my favorite movies. I seem to remember Terminator 2: Judgment Day being pretty good, but being slightly annoyed at the idea of a terminator being a good guy, although that was balanced by the cool liquid metal terminator effect. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was a decent action flick, but felt weak too me and the ending was unsatisfying. I don’t know that I’ve actually sat down and watched any of those on TV or DVD since I saw them the first time. The television series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I didn’t watch and only saw bits and pieces of assorted episodes, it never felt like I was missing anything by not watching it. So I went into Terminator Salvation with a pretty open mind and no real expectations.
Pretty good. Definitely a big-budget summer movie. I liked it. Lots of things blowing up. Lots of guns and shooting. A couple chase scenes. Some fighting. And even a little hint of romance amongst the ruins of humanity and the resistance.
It’s pretty obvious that they’re setting us up for a few more of these, probably a trilogy, they always make these things in three’s. And I think they might be able to pull it off. This movie stands alone nicely, but acknowledges what has come before it and leaves plenty of open space for something to come after. Christian Bale does alright as John Conner, but he is not the focus of the tale, which is just as well because my opinion might change if I had to watch him storm around more than I did. But the characters that the movie does focus on are interesting and if not likeable, they are at least captivating.
As with any movie of this sort it does something’s that make me ask why? And there’s plenty there that I would have written differently. But all in all it was a good, entertaining movie. I wouldn’t pay to see it again, but I just might sit through another watching or two on cable. My recommendation, go see it. Everybody else is going too, and you may as well be able to talk to them about it. Besides, it’s a summer popcorn movie and it’s hard to go wrong with those.