Sunday, July 3, 2011

Matt’s Week in Dork! (6/26/11-7/2/11)

    It’s been a busy and very weird week.  Honestly, the last few weeks have been kind of crappy for this Dork, but with plenty of silver lining.  Up first, the films of the week.

Megamind:  Clever, occasionally cute, and a good deal of fun, Megamind isn’t amazing, but it’s worth a watch.  The voice work is good.  It plays well with big comic book myths, especially the Superman type.  And I kind of like it’s meditation on the need of an adversary to define oneself.  Check it out.

Doctor Who Revenge of the Cybermen:  The long awaited return of the Cybermen has the Doctor and Sarah Jane facing some troubling military types in the future, and some creepy, big headed aliens.  There’s a lot going on in this story, but it pretty quickly comes down to battling the Doctor’s other major enemy.  Not as iconic as the Daleks, they’re still pretty cool.

Eastern Promises:  The Russian mob is up to no good in London and a local nurse learns more than is good for her.  Meanwhile, upwardly mobile thug Viggo Mortensen is ‘just driver.’  It’s a really good flick, and Viggo is pretty awesome.  And yes, that crazy bathhouse fight is pretty hardcore.  I hope Viggo and Cronenberg keep working together for years to come.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon:  The girl is less awful than Megan Fox.  I didn’t notice any especially offensive ethnic stereotype robots.  And there are a couple cool stunts/shots.  Otherwise, this is more of the same generic crap.  Soulless, mindless pap from a purveyor of mediocrity.  A true heir to the thrown of James Cameron, Bay makes big, loud, and ultimately dumb films, and his best ideas are lifted from much better films.  And sadly, like a latter day Cameron, his movies lack a charm that would make you forgive their obvious shortcomings.  Like the previous films, I found the visual assault of CG to be a sort of sensory overload, making it hard to follow the action.  Half the time, I couldn’t tell what was flying debris and what was robot.  And in spite of being WAY over long, the movie felt spotty, like important scenes were left on the cutting room floor.  It’s a step up from Revenge of the Fallen in the same way Revenge of the Sith was a step up from Attack of the Clones.  Better than a steaming turd does not equal good. 

Don't know what you're looking at?  Neither did I.

Aquamarine:  Why did I watch this?  I honestly don’t know.  It’s pretty annoying, screechy, and pointless.  The leads are all mostly unlikable and the story pretty lame.  It’s not surprising that this film came and went with little fanfare or lasting interest.

Making Splash look good.

Doctor Who: Planet of Evil:  A pretty good horror story set on a planet near the edge of the universe, this owes a great deal to one of my favorite movies, Forbidden Planet.  Some great sets and excellent guest actors keep it grounded while the Doctor faces off with another universe.

Wait Until Dark:  After working pretty consistently since 1951, this 1967 film marked the beginning of a near ten year hiatus from film for star Audrey Hepburn.  Had it been her final film, it would have been a pretty good exit.  Tense, scary, and brimming with great performances from a very small but very talented cast.  Especially cool are the charming small-time hood Richard Crenna and the cold psycho Alan Arkin.  It plays like an attempt at a Hitchcock film, and while not to the level of Hitch’s best, it’s still quite good.  And I suspect that this movie informed a young Brian De Palma quite a bit, as I actually had to check to make sure he wasn’t in some way associated with it.

    I also watched a few episodes of the 70s kids’ show Space Academy, which is fun, but not very good.  So far, of that batch of TV series (Jason of Star Command, Ark II, and some others), Space Academy is the lesser.  But oddly enough, Jonathan Harris isn’t that bad.  Usually I can’t stand that guy, but he’s OK here.

    Also watched a little more Batman: The Brave and the Bold.  Dang that show is nutty.  Good stuff, though.

    Outside of watching some movies, I went with some friends to a local bar.  This is not my usual way to spend time and money, but I’m trying to do more new things.  The whole situation was a bit surreal.  After a long day at work, my roommate and I took a bus, with the intention of switching to another bus that would go right by the bar we were heading to.  After missing the intended first bus, we walked a little out of our way and got a second option.  OK, all’s well.  But ten minutes later, while waiting at a light, the loud motor behind us started to get louder.  Then it started making an awful sound, like the screaming of a thousand souls at the gates of hell.  And that’s when the smoke started.  Then the sound died, but the smoke kept up.  After the light finally turned green (dang but that intersection is poorly set up and timed), we got off at the next stop and got out of Dodge.  Blah.  After a good walk in the sun, which was actually fairly pleasant, we arrived at the bar, or pub, I can never tell.  A couple rum & Cokes later and we were on our way.  I just don’t get the bar atmosphere.  I never have.  I’ve been to a number of very different bars over the years, and I’ve always felt like an outsider.  At any moment, someone is going to ask me about the ‘big game’ or some such thing, and I’m gonna be like a spy in East Germany who doesn’t  have his papers.  Unable to answer and hoping for a quick death.  The actual bar itself seems set up to keep you from socializing, putting you all in a line like some feeding trough or cafeteria table.  But venturing out to the tables feels like you’re looking for trouble.  The crowd was a calm group of business types, with one group of Barbie Doll type college girls and a semi-butch lesbian couple.  Upon leaving, I said something thoroughly inappropriate, which someone interpreted as me being drunk.  But that’s just my sense of humor.  Another walk in the sun and we were home.   I keep wanting to expand my social circles and experience, but as much as everyone seems to sing their praises, I just don’t think bars are the place for me.  Even mellow ones where the pop-collar douche bags are absent.

    On the music front, I’m still enjoying quirky female vocalists.  This week, I’ve been especially in to St. Vincent.  And I’m finally giving Florence and the Machine a more serious try.

    I read the next volume of the Conan comic series.  And I finally finished Reality is Broken.  Excellent book.  I’ll be writing up something more about it in the coming days.  In the meantime, go out and get a copy.  Read it.

    Really getting a hankering to do some more gaming, too.  Though I’ve got a specific idea for my next go round, what comes later is still up in the air.  A few options have been swirling around my noggin.  The standard option is to try to get a weekly or biweekly game with a regular crew of about 4 people.  It’s a nice option and can work very well.  But the reality of adult life can make this difficult.  Kids, jobs, and all sorts of other demands can make a regular game night very difficult.  But there are other options.   Maybe an Ars Magica campaign with a crew of 4 to 10 players, who can come or not without effecting the progress of the game.  I’ve seen it work before.  Or, simply playing various games every couple weeks.  Maybe some board games one night, and a one-shot RPG on another.  We’ll see.


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