Archive for February, 2009

28
Feb
09

Two signs of the Apocalypse

Today, on TV, I saw two almost certain signs of the apocalypse. First, a commercial for a new direct-to-DVD movie: Ace Ventura Jr. Seriously? Look, I know that there are no original ideas left in Hollywood. I know 75 percent of the films currently in production are remakes, prequels, or sequels. But honestly, was anybody really aching to see a kiddie version of a Jim Carrey movie from 15 years ago? Are these the same people who are shelling out money to see Space Buddies? Are they the ones I need to hit with the sack full of Mardi Gras beads Erin can’t fit into her suitcase for the trip home?

Second: the new TV Land original series, The Cougar. It’s a dating show (i.e., yet another Bachelor rip-off) about a 40-something woman trying to pick up a bunch of 20-something guys. Aside from just being basically offended that yet another TV network is ripping off a show as soulless as The Bachelor, as a male I’m offended by the double standard. If this was a show about a 40-something dude going after 20-year-old college girls, every member of NOW would be Googling his name to cross-reference him against databases of registered sex offenders and there would be picket lines from the front door of the network stretching out so far that someone would drown in the Hudson River. And that’s not even assuming the network headquarters is in New York.

In other news, Erin goes home tomorrow, which makes me sad. But she’s got a stack of graphic novels to read on the way, including Wonder Woman: Who is Wonder Woman?; The Complete Bite Club, Superman For All Seasons, The Umbrella Academy and volume four of Strangers in Paraside. That should be enough to get her to her layover. I, meanwhile, picked up volume two of the Starman Omnibus to keep me company once she leaves.

27
Feb
09

A day in New Orleans

From the very first time Erin came down here for a visit, we’ve been planning to visit the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. Today, we finally made it. It was a wonderful afternoon, although the penguins weren’t in enough of a performance mood for Erin’s tastes. They were still cute, though.

Afterwards, we took a walking tour of some of the streets in New Orleans, on her quest to find shirts for herself and her mother. Still didn’t find anything, but we found a nice little used bookstore and slowly were raised to Heaven in the Southern Candymakers’ store.

My cousins Carl and Tammy host a Lenten seafood feast every Friday night during Lent, and tonight is the first one. Erin has been dying to go ever since she heard about them, and this is her first chance. It should be wonderful.

26
Feb
09

What I’m Watching: Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th (2009)One of the many wonderful things about Erin is that she not only tolerates the kind of movies I watch, she makes me promise to wait for her to watch them. So today, she and I went out to catch the remake of the 80s horror staple Friday the 13th. If you may recall, a while back I actually reviewed all of the previous films in the series (check it out: Part One and Part Two), so you can consider this a sort of addendum to that review series.

This film, like producer Michael Bay‘s remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is sort of an updating of the horror legend. The film begins some 20 years after the death of Pamela Voorhees, a mother who murdered a slew of counselors at Camp Crystal Lake whom she believed caused her son Jason’s death. (This, of course, was the plot of the first movie.) In the here and now, a group of teenagers (it’s always a group of teenagers) comes up to the lake in the hopes of finding a large crop of wild pot purported to grow here, quickly allowing the movie to cast aspersions on all three of the vices that get kids killed in these movies — sex, drugs, and alcohol. Six weeks later, the brother of one of the teens goes to the camp to search for her, at the same time as a second group of oversexed, alcoholic, pothead kids rolls up to spend a weekend away from it all.

“Away,” unfortunately for them, means “right in Jason’s backyard.”

There’s actually a lot of good in this movie. The plot isn’t just a carbon copy of any of the previous films, although the film goes out of its way to include all the tropes that made them popular. The brother, played by the kid from Supernatural whose name I can’t spell and am too lazy to look up, is a stronger male lead than most of the heroes of the franchise, and we get two fairly well-rounded female characters as well. The rest of the characters are all painful stereotypes, including the slutty blond, the jackass boyfriend and the black guy who feigns offense at unintended racial stereotypes. Seen it.

Jason himself is quite a departure from previous incarnations of the character. This is a much smarter Jason. He doesn’t just march through the film mindlessly killing everyone with whatever he has at hand. This is a Jason who thinks. Who sets traps. Who uses a light switch. He’s got a brain. As a result, he’s nearly an entirely different character.

In the end, actually, that’s the main drawback for the film. Jason is almost a different character, and the film is almost a different franchise. It’s not that it’s bad — I mean, it’s not great, but it’s at least as good as at least half of the old films. But it’s not really the same, and it’s supposed to be. It’s the Coke Zero of the franchise. You can tell it’s supposed to be the same, and it’s not bad, but it still tastes different no matter what the commercials tell you.

25
Feb
09

My girlfriend is better than yours

You know how I know that?

Because she’s here for a week on a trip to visit me and to enjoy her first Mardi Gras. Today, while she and I were out shopping, she volunteered — volunteered — to make herself scarce tonight during Lost so I could watch it. She’s never watched an episode, although she is borrowing my DVDs so she can start. I am fairly confidant she’ll get hooked easily. But tonight, from 8-9 p.m. CST, she’s taking a bath bomb she got from Lush (her favorite gourmet soap and cosmetics store) and taking a nice, long bath so that I don’t have to wait until she goes home (sniff) on Sunday to watch the DVRed episode.

In other words, my girlfriend is better than yours.

24
Feb
09

Erin’s First Mardi Gras

So today was the end of Erin’s first Mardi Gras. As always, after her visit is over I’m going to write up the whole story, but in a nutshell, we took her to three parades in the past three days with my family and friends. We had a wonderful time. I actually enjoyed Mardi Gras for the first time since I was in high school.

And here are a couple of quick pictures from yesterday’s Orpheus parade.

Emergency Backup Geek Mike with Erin

Emergency Backup Geek Mike with Erin

Emergency Backup Geek Mike with Me

Erin and I together -- as it should be.

Erin and I together -- as it should be.

23
Feb
09

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 107: Final Crisis Retrospective

It’s been a few weeks, the dust has settled, and the guys are ready to pick into DC’s Final Crisis. Chase tells us what he didn’t like, Blake tries to explain the ending, they give their thoughts about the future of Batman and the Multiverse, and talk about the state of “The Crossover” in comics in general. In the picks this week, Geoff Johns dominates, as Chase selects Green Lantern #37 and Blake gushes like a schoolgirl over Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #3. Write us with comments, suggestions, picks of the week, “Ask Chase Anything” questions, or anything else at Showcase@Comixtreme.com!

Episode 107: Final Crisis Retrospective
Inside this Episode:

PLUS: The boys bring you a quick Week in Geek this week, with their initial impressions of the new episode of Lost, “316,” plus their thoughts on recent episodes of Chuck, Heroes, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles and the premiere episode of Dollhouse!

Week in Geek #11: A Lost 316 Quickie and a TV Roundup!

AND: In a special bonus mini-episode, Chase brings you his review of the new remake of the slasher classic Friday the 13th!

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 106.5: Friday the 13th (2009) Review

22
Feb
09

Home and Sunburnt

We took Erin out to her first Mardi Gras parade today — a nice little family parade in Houma. We are currently waiting up for her luggage to arrive, a day late, after an unscheduled detour to Akron, Ohio.

I know.

A few quick pictures from today to tide you over:

Erin enjoys her first parade!

Erin enjoys her first parade!

 

Almost as much as my brother enjoys his 347th.

Almost as much as my brother enjoys his 347th.

Roasted in the sun, but happy together.

Roasted in the sun, but happy together.

21
Feb
09

Where I’m Gonna Be

Hey, everyone — just wanted to let you know that posting this next week will probably be more sporadic than usual. My girlfriend Erin, even as we speak, is on a layover in Atlanta, on her way to come in to New Orleans for her first Mardi Gras. No doubt you can expect tons of pictures, and I’ll write all about the trip as usual, but I won’t be online as often as usual.

Incidentally, this should tell you it’s true love. I HATE Mardi Gras. You wouldn’t catch me going to so many parades for anybody but her.

20
Feb
09

What I’m Reading: It’s Not Easy Being Green

It's Not Easy Being GreenBetween the Street Gang book and the upcoming Muppet Show comic book from Boom! Studios, I’m in something of a Muppet Mode lately. So I dug out a book I got a few years ago, the 2005 book It’s Not Easy Being Green (and Other Things to Consider). This is essentially a coffee table book, but too small to fill the table. A “Keepsake” book?” I’m sure there’s some publishing industry term for a book like this one, but I don’t know what it is.

At any rate, this isn’t a work of fiction, but it’s not a real deep, researched tome like the aforementioned Street Gang either. What we have here, essentially, is a collection of quotes by or about Muppet creator Jim Henson or his various thoughts on life. Using things Henson wrote or said — and, in fact, drew — the book expounds upon his gentle, optimistic, mildly anarchic view of the universe. The quotes are well-chosen, I certainly feel like they illuminate the man very well.

The book also contains a lot of quotes from Jim’s friends, family, and co-workers — people like his son Brian Henson, his fellow Muppeteers Frank Oz, Jerry Juhl, and Kevin Clash, and other collaborators like Joan Ganz Cooney, the guiding force behind Sesame Street. These quotes are usually about Jim himself, about what a kind, inspiring, and powerfully imaginative man he actually was.

Finally, the book contains a lot of quotes from Jim’s characters. The stars of The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock are all over this book, along with quotes from far more obscure Henson productions, like the 1969 television movie The Cube(which, incidentally, bears a striking resemblance in concept to the sci-fi/horror movie of the same name). Some of these are classic, familiar quotes. Some of them are the entire text of a song or a sketch from one of the shows. Some of them I’ve never heard before. But they’re all chosen to help illuminate how Henson’s philosophies were expressed in his characters — Bert and Ernie singing about how they’re best friends even though they don’t have anything in common; Kermit making Gonzo realize how lucky he is just to be himself… and how could we forget the legendary wisdom of the Fraggle Rock theme song?

This isn’t a must-read. It’s a very fast read, most people can probably get through the whole book in an hour, which isn’t really worth the $16.95 cover price. On the other hand, the book has been out for a few years now, and chances are you can find it remaindered for far less money in a lot of bookstores, and if you can snare it for five bucks or less, it may be worth it. Especially if you’re a fan of Jim Henson and the Muppets. It’s a nice keepsake — yeah, that word fits — if the words and genius of the Muppets and their extended family means something to you. It certainly means something to me.

19
Feb
09

Adventures at the Silver Screen

I’ve got a confession to make. Erin is coming for a visit next week, and that’s wonderful, and I look forward to every single minute I’m going to spend with her. But I’ve discovered that one of the things that is nicest about spending time with her is that she, like me, loves to go to the movies. And honestly, I don’t get to go that much anymore.

Back in the day, I’d be at the movies nearly every weekend, sometimes seeing two or even three shows. Usually I was with Jason, but it wasn’t at all unusual to meet up with Chase and Jenny, or Mike and Kim (this was pre-Kenny) to catch a flick or two. The Superbuddies had a system.

Since Jason got married — something I don’t begrudge him in the slightest, mind you — he doesn’t have as much time to meet up with us any more. And while I still catch movies with Chase or Mike or Kenny as much as I ever did, I’ve come to realize that those instances are kind of few and far between. My parents gave me a $50 card to the local AMC for Christmas. I’ve gone to the theater once since then, to see the craptacular Spirit movie.

And often, it’s not even for lack of trying. Last weekend, while I was out with Emergency Backup Geeks Mike and Kenny, we decided to check out Liam Neeson’s new thriller Taken, which we’d heard good things about. Our timing worked against us, though. We got there at about 8:30, well after the 8 o’clock shows had started, and there was nothing playing that we could even fathom paying money to see until 10:00, and sadly, the old men in us started taking over and we decided against staying out that late.

Sure, I could go to the movies myself. I have done this on rare occasions, always when it was a movie I wanted to review for the podcast or for Comixtreme and I couldn’t wait to round up a movie buddy. But I quickly learned that I hate going to the movies alone. Half the pleasure in going to the movie theater is cracking jokes with your friends (quietly, damn you, watch the level of your voice in a movie theater) and analyzing the movie’s faults and strengths after it’s over. And Netflix, much as I love it, is no substitute. There is an experience in going to the theater that cannot be matched at home. Netflix has allowed me to catch up on a lot of movies I wanted to see on the big screen. And sure, sometimes I was grateful I didn’t waste the money, but other times I wish I could have gotten the full film experience.

So whenever Erin and I get together, we look at what movies are coming out. Last summer we struck gold — we were together for the premiere of The Dark Knight. In the fall, we managed to catch the fantastic Quantum of Solace and the less-than-fantastic Twilight. This coming week, as she visits for Mardi Gras, we’ve tentatively agreed to see Friday the 13th and Coraline together. Beyond that… who knows? The only other movie coming out in the near future that I’d even fly solo just to see on the screen is Watchmen. But that’s not enough. I want more.

I want to get to the movies more often.




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