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Showing posts from 2017

Hiatus, basically

Apologies to my regular readers (all six of you) for the lack of a proper Hipster Holy Grail update today, and also a couple weeks ago.  Steph and I are caught in an ironic spot of trouble with our house right now.  Basically, we went into the move thinking, "Let's pack up as much stuff as possible, but time is on our side because we're in no hurry to move."  And now we're about 99% of the way to a contract, with the stipulation that the house be empty by the end of November.
So, time is definitely, absolutely, positively not on our side anymore.  Whoops.  But also, hooray!  But also, whoops.
I'd love to say that I'll power through all this and come back to my blog week after week with my regular schedule regardless, but that's an unabashed lie.  For all intents and purposes, I'm putting this blog on hold.  I'll be back with regular updates - and hopefully a Halloween-in-Winter HHG post to make up for today - once we're set up in our new h…

A review of "Gerald's Game" (2017)

The Internet's wrong.  Gerald's Game is not a good movie.

I can see why you might be tricked, though.  It looks nice; helmed by fellow Marylander and otherwise excellent writer/director Mike Flanagan, the movie is crisply shot and paced.  The plot ratchets up the tension in the first half with perfect little morsels of terror.  And no matter how ridiculous the premise gets, it's anchored by excellent performances.

So, sure, there are merits here.  In fact, there are even a handful of truly horrifying scares that'll punch you in the guts.

But then the third act hits... and oh, man, does it ever Stephen King the ending.

The metaphor of an empty house

After I published Born Loser (available now for only a buck, go get it), I realized I accidentally re-used a metaphor I'd already put into Bitter People Without Souls.  There's a part where somebody's moving out of their house, and they stop to reflect on the emptiness they're leaving behind.

It's not exactly the finest metaphor out there - I know.  That moment is not meant to be the high point of either book, just a background detail to flesh out what's going on with their lives.  To me, it's the kind of thing that immediately lands.  You see an empty house, one that was yours, and you know instantly that life is permanently changing.

....or so I thought, until I started packing up this house.

Granted, it's not quite "empty" yet.  Much of the furniture is still in place and we haven't taken out any of the basic essentials needed to live here.  But all our books, all our DVDs, all our framed photos and ornaments and other details that tell…

Hipster Holy Grail: Encounter with the Unknown (1973)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read ReviewsEncounter with the Unknown is basically The Shitty Twilight Zone.  It recycles so much of its own footage that it accidentally implements the "repeat until it's funny" gag, and when it's not doing that, it's just really, really stupid.  If you're into bad movies, there's a good chance you'll find parts of it funny.  But to get maximum enjoyment, you really have to watch this one with friends.

My Rating: 4 / 5 if you watch with a crowd, 2.5 / 5 if you watch by yourself (Novice Bad Movie)

A review of "Absolutely Anything" (2015)

Absolutely Anything is like a Smith Island cake of irrelevancy.  One layer is for me, the sap who's increasingly out of touch with the world while I devote all my attention to my kids and books, and who had never heard of the movie before watching it.  One layer is for writer/director Terry Jones, whose previous feature was released about twenty years before.  Another layer for the supporting cast, which includes all the surviving members of Monty Python, which, while still hilarious to elder Millennial nerds, doesn't seem to have made the same impact to anybody born after 1990, mostly likely due to a lack of constant spamming on PBS.  Another layer goes to the gags, which eschew topical humor for the sake of familiar romcom tropes, occasionally sprinkled with the lukewarmly absurdist science-fiction bent that made the 2005 Hitchhikers' Guide movie less-than-memorable.

And just like Smith Island cake, it's a sweet and comforting movie all the same.

In terms of a laugh-…

Slightly inebriated self-actualization

I'm breaking with tradition... no, that's a lie.  I'm doing something I've totally done before, and that's blog while I'm drunk.  I've probably done that like, I don't know... several times before.  And God willing, I'll keep doing it for years to come.

Anyway.

At present, I'm watching Absolutely Anything while smashed on my fourth round of 100 proof SoCo, and I had to pause the movie because I had a delightful bit of self-awareness that I hope my sober self can remember.  Sober Josiah, see, he's kind of an uptight jerk sometimes.  He's always like... responsible or something.  Like, he cares what people think or how well he's doing with, say, fiscal tidiness or some shit.  But drunk Josiah?  He's all about wearing his heart on his sleeve and being SUPER FUNNY, until that moment when he's, like, not.  Steph knows about that.  I mean, one second, shouting "dirty cock" is amusing for everyone, and the next, you're…

Maybe not a thousand...

...but it's probably worth a few words, anyway:



Sorry, have to pass on a legit post today.  And on Friday the 13th, too.  Dammit.  I sure hope we get to that new house soon.

YA Marketing

Pressed for time again, so just a quick update today.

Last week I had a fortunate mix of both free time (amazingly) and surprise inspiration.  I was able to clock in a substantial chunk of progress on "There's Something Strange About Mr. Brickwell."  Obviously, that's too much good news, so I've had to temper my excitement by worrying about what the marketing will be like once I'm ready to put it out on Amazon.

The problem is that "Brickwell" is intended to be a young adult book - or at the very least, it's YA-friendly, which is good enough.  But none of my other books are YA appropriate.  Not even close.

So, do I use a pseudonym, or what?

I'll have to noodle on that for awhile. Maybe that can be my New Year's Crisis once I have time to think about it.

Hipster Holy Grail: UFO Abduction (aka, "The McPherson Tape") (1989)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews Even at a scant 60-minute runtime, UFO Abduction feels a bit long.  I can forgive that, though, as the tricks it introduced to cinema are executed perfectly and, despite filmmakers having almost thirty years to practice this shit, still aren't replicated very often.

My Rating: 4 / 5

"AHS: Roanoke" took three episodes

It's that time of year again when Steph and I sign in to Netflix to catch up on last year's season of American Horror Story.  Lately, this has been a game to see how long it takes for me to suspect I'm going to hate-watch it.

"Roanoke" took three episodes.  That's okay, I guess.  In AHS terms, that's like a C+.
"Hate-watch" is probably too severe a term.  There's usually a lot to recommend and it's a well-crafted production.  The acting is consistently good (albeit overblown, which is more a consequence of the writing than the performers), it's well-shot, and I dig the way the show commits 100% to every strange thing that it can think of.

But at the same time, I hate how schizophrenic it always becomes.  There's too many ideas vying for attention, like a bunch of teenage divas trying to prove they're the most horrified Puritan in a tenth-grade classroom reading of "The Crucible."  Plot threads will get introduced wi…

The cardboard jungle blooms

No update today - I'm gut-deep in packing up the house.
But thanks for checking in, I appreciate the interest.  I'll be back with a proper post as soon as I can.

Hipster Holy Grail: The Dark (1979)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews If it didn't have the involvement of Tobe Hooper (briefly), I suspect The Dark would have long ago vanished entirely from the world of B-movie horror.  There's precious little going on that's worth describing.

My Rating: 1.5 / 5

A review of "They're Watching" (2016)

I knew I was going to dig They're Watching when they breezed right through the obligatory "here's our rationale for a found footage movie" sequence.

You can always tell when that moment comes up in a found footage movie because somebody will look at the camera and say, "Why are you recording this?"  Then whoever's behind the camera usually says something like, "Because people need to see it," or "I'm just trying out my new camera" or whatever the hell.  And then you get about 10-15 minutes of pointless garbage.  The filmmakers always seem to think that those 10-15 minutes are important to set the tone, somehow.  I think the implication is, "Hey, you like normal people, right?  Well, here's how normal these characters are.  They're recording banality, just like you would!  So... that's cool, right?"

It's one of my biggest pet peeves and the reason I usually hate found footage movies.  (See also: my not-qu…

Moving Update - Decluttering, Phase 1

As noted in past weeks, I'll have less time to spend on my typical weekly writing updates, so today you're getting a quick moving update instead.

The move is going a lot faster than I expected.  Steph and I only made our decision final about three weeks ago or so, but we already have an agent and have been pre-approved for a new mortgage.  The living room is in disarray while we start the decluttering process, and I have tentative plans to get the first couple loads of boxes into storage within the next week or two.

I got hit with a pretty heavy emotional moment the other day when I first started packing up our DVD collection.  The reality of leaving our current house behind and the stress of finding a new one set in.  And all the old emotions came swirling back again.

Immediate nostalgia for the good times we had here.  Resentment that we never got the help we thought we would to fix up the place.  Excitement that the next house will have a dishwasher.  Impatience for the air…

Hipster Holy Grail: The Nickel Ride (1974)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read ReviewsThe Nickel Ride is grim, fatalistic, and slathered with depression like a layer of cement.  It's also one of the best movies I've seen this year.  If you're looking for some classic '70s nihilism to punch you in the face and bring you back to reality after a day of Marvel movies, check this one out.

My Rating: 5 / 5

A review of "The Loft" (2014)

I'm going to have a hell of a time justifying why I'd recommend that anybody watch The Loft.  I like to say that I never take guilt with my pleasures, but then I saw this... and I'm pretty sure this is what most people feel when they call a movie a "guilty pleasure."

Let me be perfectly honest.  This movie is pretty dumb.  Like, smack you in the face dumb.  It didn't totally sink in for me how dumb it was until I thought about it after the fact, but oh yes, this movie is dumb.

It's a thriller about five well-to-do dudes who share ownership of a snazzy, secret apartment in downtown Generic City.  The point of the secret apartment is to have a place where they can get away whenever they want to have an affair - which at least one of them, played by Karl Urban, has on a practically daily basis.  Only the five of them have keys to the apartment, and supposedly only the five of them know about its purpose.  Unfortunately, one day they find a dead woman inside,…

I'm not leaving just because of a few murders

I would be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to moving out of the city.  There's a lot of greener pastures waiting for us in Annapolis, our new home-to-be.  Easy parking, better schools, closer proximity to family who are more likely to come visit... there's plenty to look forward to.

But I'd also be lying if I said I won't miss Baltimore.  Deeply.

I'm still reluctant to tell people that we're moving without immediately giving a full explanation.  I think it's a knee-jerk reaction to all the people who, for years, would hear Stephanie and I talk about how much we love the city and then say, "Yeah, but when are you leaving?  You don't plan to stay there forever, right?"  Like, it's so impossible to imagine that we would enjoy city life this much that the default assumption has always been, "Oh, it's just a phase you're going through.  Once you grow up a bit, you'll come back to the suburbs where you belong."…

Hipster Holy Grail: Sex Through a Window (aka "Extreme Close-Up") (1973)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews Neither titillating enough for masturbation fodder, nor edgy or thoughtful enough for social commentary, Sex Through a Window is a complete waste of time.  It mostly just bored me, but what little it had to say annoyed the shit out of me, which means STaW gets the dubious honor of being the first movie of 2017 that I'm putting in the "Offensively Bad Movie" category.

My Rating: 0.5 / 5 (Offensively Bad Movie)

A brief review of "Little Evil" (2017)

Little Evil has a winning premise.  It's a comedy about a guy who discovers his new stepson is the Antichrist. It's the kind of simple, seemingly obvious spin on well-trod horror ground that makes for great comedy - the sort of thing you hear and you think, "Well, come on, somebody has to have done that already," except nobody really has.

And there's a good cast and crew to support it.  The director, Eli Craig, proved his mettle with Tucker and Dale vs Evil.  The lead is Adam Scott, who has never been bad, and the supporting cast includes a healthy supply of comics and funny bit players who are always good even if the productions they're in aren't: Tyler Labine, Carla Gallo, Donald Faison, Kyle Bornheimer, and Bridget Everett.

The only thing it's missing is jokes.

Little Evil is one of those comedies that unfortunately thinks its inherently outrageous content renders all other humor obsolete.  Scene after scene falls flat because there isn't any se…

Putting writing on hold

A couple weeks back, I casually threw out there that we're going to sell our house and move.  (That pipe's been fixed, BTW.)  It's a decision that feels more right as more time passes.

I'll write more about the underlying reasons some other time, I'm sure.  But the main takeaway as far as this blog is concerned is that, for the next few months, my writing is going to have to be put on hold.  I only have so much of my attention that I'm able to focus at any one time, and right now it's hard to put myself in the world of my stories.  I can't exactly grab all the details I want when I'm thinking about what I should pack up next, you know?

I don't expect it to be a permanent hold - there's no reason I'd have to shelve all my plans.  I do plan to keep this blog going, for example.  It's just that I'll have to meddle with my current formula of "post something related to my writing every Wednesday," unless I want to have twent…

Hipster Holy Grail: Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues (1972)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read ReviewsDealing: Or the Inversely-Proportionate-Length-to-Quality Subtitle is an interesting time capsule of a movie.  The historical value is what would lead me to recommend it moreso than the film itself, which takes an achingly long time to get to the point.  Basically, if you've either got the patience to sit through 40 minutes of tedium, or you're interested in an early '70s snapshot of (white) drug culture, check this one out.  Otherwise, don't bother.

My Rating: 3.5 / 5

Week in Review: 9/10/17

Movies I Watched in the Last Week 1) Little Evil - Meh.  Considering how little I cared about this movie, I probably shouldn't bother, but I went ahead and wrote a more detailed review of it, anyway.  That'll be out in like a week.  Short version: it's not that funny.
My Rating: 2.5 / 5

A review of "Death Note" (2017)

It seems one of the first things anybody want to talk about regarding the Netflix-backed reboot/remake/adaptation of Death Note is how gross the white-washing is, so let's get that out of the way now.  I can't help but feel it's a minor point.  Sure, it would be nice if the producers were conscientious enough to cast some Asian-American actors, but it's not like the plot or characters rely on racial or ethnic subtleties to get the point across.  On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is The Last Airbender and 5 is Shall We Dance, I think I'd rank the misguided casting as maybe a 4.  There's bigger fish to fry, is what I'm saying.

(Related side note: I have no idea what a 1 on that scale would be.  If anybody knows of any English-language remakes or adaptations whose casting did justice to their source, please let me know in the comments.)

The story, for those not in the know, involves Light Turner (originally Light Yagami), a moody and authoritarian-minded teenage…

"Born Loser" now costs only one dollar

Attention anybody who may have been on the fence about buying a copy of my latest book, Born Loser: I've just slashed the price of the Kindle version to a mere 99 cents.

For not even a full dollar, you can enjoy the comic thriller that answers the question, "How soon after a heist would six competitive tabletop nerds stab each other in the back?"  (Hint: not very.)

Go check it out and buy a copy today.  While you're at it, download copies of my other books, too.  They're only a buck each, that's a steal.  And if you like what you read, please don't forget to leave a positive review - it's greatly appreciated.

Hipster Holy Grail: Pursuit (1972)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read ReviewsPursuit = nap time.

My Rating: 1 / 5

A review of the premise of "What Happened to Monday"

What Happened to Monday is another entry in Netflix's catalog of quirky, quasi-alternative programming.  It's a dark science-fiction drama about a dystopian world plagued by overpopulation.  To combat the rising number of humans, a world government has instilled a draconian "one child only" law for all parents. This means that an unlikely group of septuplets, named for each day of the week and all played by Noomi Rapace, has to share a singular identity when interfacing with the public.

Now, let me be as clear and positive as I can up front.  This is not a bad movie in the broad sense of the term.  The acting is pretty good.  Rapace does a terrific job, Willem Dafoe is good as her grandfather (playing that delicate balance of "psychopath" and "pitiful" that he's oh-so-good at), and the actress who plays seven versions of Rapace's younger selves, Clara Read, is fantastic.  It's filmed and edited beautifully, with a lot of crisp shots an…

My shitty house has sprung another leak

I've been struggling at writing posts for my blog this week because my mind has been occupied by a different challenge: another leaking pipe in our house.

This now makes four significant leaks in the last six years.  Twice it happened in the laundry room (first the cold water supply snapped off when winter froze the pipes solid one year, and then the hot water supply snapped off for the exact same reason the next year).  Once it happened in our bedroom. And this time it happened in our crawlspace, close to the main supply line - arguably the worst place for it, since "cap it off and ignore it" isn't a viable option.

It started as a pinhole leak out of a corroded elbow.  We probably wouldn't have even noticed it for days, except that I'm now constantly paranoid and anything that sounds even remotely like rushing water sends me into full-on panic mode.  I heard the slightest whisper of white noise upstairs and tracked it to a cold water pipe, then traced that b…

Hipster Holy Grail: T-Force (1994)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read ReviewsT-Force is one of my favorite subgenres of bad movie: the kind where you're not sure if it's actually bad or not.  It delivers on its premise in classic B-movie fashion, simultaneously feeling cheap and well-budgeted.  The action scenes make up for a lack of innovation with sheer quantity, plus a bounty of fireballs and explosions.  Nonsense be damned, I had more fun watching this than some Marvel movies.

My Rating: 4 / 5 (Not Actually Bad Movie)

Some love for The Aquabats

Somewhere in the deep catalog of Netflix's children's programming, buried between Korean imports you've never heard of and unpronounceable shows about warrior cars and anime cats, you'll find the first season of The Aquabats! Super Show!.

The cover art Netflix has chosen for its thumbnail is unceremonious at best.  Just an ambiguous screencap from an episode where Crash McLarson - who isn't even the leader of the titular Aquabats - is buried up to his neck in sand and has a mildly confused look on his face.  Tragically, the immediate association that comes to mind is the poster for Fred: The Movie - hardly the sort of thing you want in your company.

But if you decide to click on that thumbnail and watch, either out of morbid curiosity or because, like me, you have children who've fallen helplessly in love with it, you'll get yourself a thirty minute dose of magic.

This is not just an average dumb kids' show.  It's a fantastic world of perpetual summ…

I wish I knew what a YubiKey was about ten months ago

Frustration, defined: I needed a plot device for Born Loser.  I decided to make said device a USB drive.  I needed to add weight to that device.  I made up an overly-complex and frankly kind of silly back story to go with it.

Then I publish the damn book and find out almost a year later that there's these things out there called "YubiKeys," which are basically exactly what Born Loser needed.  So instead of having the perfect plot device, Born Loser has an okay-if-you-suspend-your-disbelief plot device.

I can kinda give myself an out on this.  I finished writing the first draft of Born Loser in the beginning of 2015, and YubiKeys (and, presumably, any similar technology) have only been available since roughly 2011 or so.  So, it's not like they were especially ubiquitous.  Even now I don't think they're quite as popular as they should be, though I expect that to change rapidly as they get cheaper and word of mouth spreads.

But nobody gets an authorial history …

Hipster Holy Grail: Venus Rising (1995)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews Despite not having a large cast or even all that complicated a plot,Venus Risingconfused the hell out of me. It's a classic case of "good idea, bad execution," and I don't think I can recommend it to anyone.

My Rating: 1.5 / 5

Week in Review: 8/20/17

Movies I Watched in the Last Week 1) Sing - Color me surprised.  I was expecting to be underwhelmed by an occasionally cute, but ultimately shallow and obnoxious kids' movie.  Instead, there were some genuinely good laughs and terrific animation.  I can't say it was transcendent, but considering that our kids are probably going to be watching this another dozen times before the year's over, I can say it's worth it.
My Rating: 4 / 5

Some love for "Santa Clarita Diet"

Santa Clarita Diet breaks no new ground.  It's a dark comedy about A) zombies (ho-hum) and B) poking fun at the superficiality and internalized despair of suburban middle class life in the United States - which, come to think of it, is pretty much the only depiction of suburban middle class life that exists outside of network TV sitcoms.

It also came out at a time when nobody was asking for it.  We had just wrapped up the 2016 election, guys - I think we were all well aware of the savage thoughts that go through our neighbors' heads each day.

But despite all that... this is a pretty dang good show.

It helps that Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant are fantastic as the leads.  Barrymore brings excellent energy and timing to her performance and reminds you why she keeps getting work despite having a spotty resume, and Olyphant is just... not Olyphant.  I mean, no offense to the guy, but I've always kinda seen him as the "Generic White Guy #23" type that you put in …

I'm expecting my kids to teach me more humility.

Lulabelle is just about at the age now where she actually follows along with the stories we read her, rather than just accepting the flood of words as a weird thing that mom and dad sometimes do.  She does better when we read stories to her that have pictures, naturally, but she's still engaged by whatever she hears.

This new phase of her life is exciting to us the same way every new phase is a marvel.  It's compounded by Sonja's newfound love of books, which she enjoys flipping through while we read something else.

Predictably, the pettiest and most narcissistic parts of me are flipping their shit because, hey, this means it won't be long before they'll read my books, and my ego clearly needs the boost, right?

I'm doing my best to temper that streak by reminding myself of three very important facts.  One: I need to actually finish writing something kid-friendly first.  Two: They need to grow just a little bit older to understand why the thing I'm reading s…

Hipster Holy Grail: New Crime City - Los Angeles 2020 (1994)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read ReviewsNew Crime City: Los Angeles 2020 is a prime cut of stupid fun.  It's not a "classic" in the same vein as other transcendently bad movies, but it is a classic B-movie - something that trades in logic, acting, and originality for a glut of cliches and practical effects that do exactly what you need.  Plus, arbitrary tits.  Angry, hostile, arbitrary tits.

My Rating: 4 / 5 (Novice Bad Movie)

Troy Duffy is still making movies

I just read in a Slashfilm post from earlier this year that Troy Duffy is working on a new movie.  Big surprise: it's about vigilantism.  Who knew.

Quick recap for those who don't remember him: Duffy is the writer/director of The Boondock Saints and its sequel.  In many ways he's more infamous for his personality and jaw-dropping rise-and-fall story than his actual work.  Here's the obligatory link to Overnight, the excellent documentary that walks you through the making of The Boondock Saints and gives you a thorough history of what went wrong and how badly Duffy shot himself in the foot.  It's only 80 minutes long and you can watch it on Netflix - go check it out.


Like most naive teenagers, I thought Boondock Saints was pretty awesome when I was seventeen and saw it for the first time, but further rewatches it in my twenties brought to light its many, many flaws.  There's some fun stuff in there, sure, but it's hyper-masculine, stupid, and preaches that c…

1,000th Post

By my math, today marks my 1,000th post for this blog.

Hooray?

Um.  I'm not sure how I feel about this, you guys.

On the one hand, one thousand is a nice big round number and I'm happy to have made it this far.  Nobody gets to a thousand of anything without discipline, so I'm proud to say I was able to put in the work.

On the other hand, I'm like four years into this with barely any readership or book sales, and there are times when it feels masturbatorily depressing to keep plugging away week after week without knowing if anybody really cares.  At a certain point I wonder if the number of posts will go from "merit badge" to "oh, my, he's still doing that, I hope somebody gets him the help he needs."

Hipster Holy Grail: Beyond the Rising Moon (1987) / Outerworld (2007)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews There is some excellent filmmaking going on in Beyond the Rising Moon.  Knowing that it was a low-budget, independent production from the eighties - before such a thing was trendy - really helps to contextualize what you'll see and makes it look all the more impressive.  So, it deserves a watch for that reason.  On the other hand... it's kind of dull.  With few deviations from tropes that had been explored in science-fiction for years even before 1987, there's just not enough to make me want to revisit it time and time again.

My Rating: 3.5 / 5

Week in Review: 8/6/17

Movies I Watched in the Last Week 1) Central Intelligence - This is the kind of movie that I'm always hoping for when I'm in kind of a funk and I just want something lighthearted to get me through the day.  It's a middle-of-the-road, playing-it-safe, predictable comedy with bankable stars who don't play too far from their comfort zones.  It's fair to say that it doesn't try hard enough, that it doesn't explore its premise as thoroughly as it deserves, that it ultimately looks kinda cheap outside of the two action scenes they put money into.  But then again... who cares?  It's funny and it's anchored by great charisma and chemistry between its leads.  It may have come out of Generic Action-Comedy Mold #23, but goddamn if it isn't a well-crafted version of #23.

My Rating: 4 / 5

A Movie Nerd with Kids Reviews "Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom" (2016)

The Plot at a Glance HP Lovecraft transforms from talented racist to an adorable dark-eyed icon sure to appear on a moody teenager's backpack in Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom.  It's a computer-animated movie based on a graphic novel series that throws a bunch of snippets of the Cthulhu mythos into a hat and shakes 'em up, then tosses them out in kid movie format.

The story starts when li'l Howard goes to a sanitarium to visit his father, who begs him to destroy a book he was writing (the Necronomicon, naturally).  Howie reads it instead and gets transported to the mysterious and magical dream world of R'yleh, where he meets a bunch of creatures and has to work with them to get back home again.

Pretty much everything you need to know about this movie can be summed up like this: Howie befriends Cthulhu, who introduces himself as "Thu Thu Hmong," but Howie finds that impossible to pronounce despite hearing it three times.  So he names him "Sp…

The post in which I waffle on character names

One of the many things I have a love/hate relationship with as a writer is the idea of using a character's name to communicate symbolism.

When it's done poorly or obviously, you end up with somebody like Faith in "Young Goodman Brown."  (Gee, Nate, I guess I DO kinda see what you're saying now, thanks for spelling it out for me.) When it's a little more subtle, it becomes a fun, almost-clever kind of thing you can point out later over coffee.  (Say, isn't it cool how Morpheus from The Matrix talks about "waking up" Neo, but he's named after the god of dreams?)  And yeah, that's probably the only time anybody will say that The Matrix is a better and more meaningful contribution to literature than "Young Goodman Brown," but I'll own it.  Fuck that story.  The Scarlet Letter it ain't.

I normally don't bother with the name game.  Most of the time I simply choose something that sounds as neutral and believable as possibl…

Hipster Holy Grail: The Stranger (1987)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews There were some decent - even great - ideas in The Stranger.  It has a nice, low-key quality to it that complements the cast and the subject matter.  Unfortunately, it misses the mark.  It's what you get when you take a moody noir with lots of great archetypes and you strip out all the energy, pacing, and snappy dialogue.

My Rating: 2.5 / 5 (Almost Good Movie)

Week in Review: 7/30/17

Movies I Watched in the Last Week 1) Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter - I really wish I liked this movie better than I did.  All of its technical elements are great.  Beautiful cinematography, great music, excellent acting, a compelling and tragicomic plot.  But man was I ever bored.  This is the kind of movie I'm always afraid I'm going to see when there's critical buzz about something.  I just don't have the patience for its beauty and when I say, "I was pretty bored, to be honest," I end up looking like some hillbilly asshole who can't appreciate fine art.  Dude, I like galleries as much as the next person, but I never want to spend two hours just looking at one painting.

My Rating: 3 / 5

How to not be an asshole

I've been going deep into the rabbit hole of political podcasts lately.  The constant discussion of persecution of marginalized groups and general bigotry wears me down quickly, but it's also too important to ignore.  It's like neo-self-flagellation.

Anyway, one of the points that keeps coming up, but which is never explicitly talked about, hits really close to him for me.  I think it may be one of the central tenets of hate.  And to talk about it, I'm going to start off with my favorite topic: me.  Sort of.

About two and a half years ago, I wrote a few blog posts about the birth of my first daughter, Lulabelle.  Long story short, there were some complications and Lula spent the first week of her life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where she made a speedy recovery.  Even when she came home with us, though, she was not fully out of the woods - she had a PICC line in place that we used to administer medication for about another week, and then there were a few more …

I'm cool with revisions

I was listening to the back catalog of the Lexicon Valley podcast the other day and got to the episode where John McWhorter floats the idea of updating Shakespeare.  To be more specific, he was talking about how some terms and turns of phrase are simply obsolete, and how he thinks having an alternate, slightly-modernized version of each play would make Shakespeare more accessible to modern audiences.

I am 100% onboard with that plan.  McWhorter mentioned in the podcast itself how he's been victim to bardolatry in the past and how it manifested one night with a Shakespearean purist giving him a drunken manifesto / impromptu reading to "prove him wrong."  I can empathize.  As both an English teacher and student, I've had my share of frustrations with that sentiment.

It's the same complaint I have with Star Wars, really.  At a certain point, your admiration for a person or a creation can go from "fandom" to "religion," and that's where you st…

Hipster Holy Grail: Cyber Bandits (1995)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read ReviewsCyber Bandits is extremely stupid and keeps tripping over its own feet as it tries to run from one plot point to the next.  That said, I enjoyed the spectacle and the sci-fi cheese, so I'd sorta-kinda recommend it for that.

My Rating: 3 / 5 (Junior Varsity Bad Movie)

Week in Review: 7/23/17

Movies I Watched in the Last Week 1) Iceman (2014) - A bit of a disappointing turn for Donnie Yen.  Iceman has a couple of good action scenes, but in its downtime it just doesn't quite work.  I would chalk it up to different comic tastes, but the jokes here aren't far off from what usually makes me laugh (give or take half a dozen toilet jokes).  I think maybe it's the editing; it never lets the content gel into anything tangible.  This is the kind of movie that you could fall asleep in the middle of and think you dreamt the next day.

My Rating: 2.5 / 5

A short letter to 2177

Every once in awhile, I think about how rotten things were in the past.  Like, I'll think, "Jeez, we had slavery in America in 1860?  And people fought a war to try to keep it?  What a garbage time to live in."  And when I do that, I have a tendency to round people up - suddenly, all Americans from 1860 are complicit in a horrible social crime rather than just the minority that supported it.

So I have this tendency to look at the distant (and sometimes shamefully not-too-distant) past with disdain.  I'll look at the people of the 19th century as unenlightened cavemen and judge them as a monolith of utter crap.

That's obviously not fair.  Even if a society has some nasty institutions, you can't just dismiss all the people who comprise it out of hand, no matter how convenient that might be.

But more importantly: I'm living in a garbage time, and I don't want people 160 years from now to look at me the same way I look at people 160 years before me.

So, I…

Grossness and brief rambling about reality TV (i.e., grossness)

I got a tiny bit more done in my abduction-themed horror book last week, and a thought has started to nag me.  I worry that my book is going to transform from "claustrophobic tension" to "just a lot of gross-out scenes."

Grossness is an interesting ingredient in horror.  It's kinda like cilantro.  Some people get a hint of it, even just the faintest whiff, and they go, "Bah!  You ruined this perfectly good horror with your gore and bugs!"  Other people can't get enough.  They'll be chewing on whole stalks of it, not even getting the story in their mouth, and going, "My, these eye-gougings and blisters are incredible.  You got any decaying bodies or what?"

I don't mind having a little bit.  Or even a lot, sometimes.  The Thing is one of my favorite movies ever, and it surely wouldn't be half as effective without the unsettling creature effects and body horror.

But I do hate it when horror becomes a vehicle for grossness rather…

Hipster Holy Grail: Lethal Justice (1991) and Lethal Justice (1995)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews It's a crapfest double feature!  Lethal Justice from 1991 is a boring, politically-dubious cop drama with shitty cops, and Lethal Justice from 1995 is a lethargic high school drama with a shitty administration and some rape.  So many wonderful options.

My Rating: 1 / 5 for '91, 2 / 5 for '95

Week in Review: 7/16/17

Movies I Watched in the Last Week 1) Doctor Strange - I'm finding it tough to come up with a reason to even have an opinion.  It's a Marvel movie, which means everybody else saw it twice before I even realized it starred Benedict Cumberbatch instead of Josh Brolin, and they all loved it to pieces.  Meanwhile, I recognize that it's a well-made and mostly enjoyable movie, but... eh.  Wasn't really meant for me.  You know what this movie is to me?  It's a comparatively pleasant notch on the belt in my journey toward 10,000 movies.

My Rating: 3.5 / 5

A review of "Okja" (2017)

Okja is an R-rated kids' movie directed by Bong Joon-ho about a girl and an oversized, pig-like creature she takes care of as a pet that a multi-national corporation wants to butcher for food.  It is both exactly what you're picturing when you read that sentence and beyond expectation.  Kinda like the rest of Bong Joon-ho's filmography.

Okja, the titular creature, is a new species of farm animal that Mirando Corporation wants to mass market.  She's described as a "super pig," but looks more like a pug/hippo hybrid and has the intelligence, sentience, and social awareness of a Disney sidekick.  Okja is one of 26 super pigs that Mirando sent to different farms worldwide as part of a decade-long promotional tour to get the world used to a new source of meat.

Predictably, an adorable, over-sized cartoon character who can express boundless love becomes a source of attachment for the movie's protagonist, Mija, a young South Korean girl who has basically grown u…

Dread, the Spinoff

Somewhere in between my panicked ramblings over the last few weeks, I managed to get in a few words about a role playing game I was planning with my friend, Toria.  The game was based on Dread, about which I have some... less than positive words.  But I don't want to get critical.  The guy who put Dread together worked hard on it and had some great ideas that led to a few excellent gaming sessions.

The thing is, since my initial read of the Dread rulebook, I've been fiddling with it a bit and slowly changing the rules.  The last game Toria and I planned had so little to do with the original Dread rules that it isn't even fair to call it "Dread" anymore.

And since then, we've been formalizing the rules of our new game even more.  So, uh, I decided to write a new rulebook to capture it.

We don't have a name for it yet.  I threw out "Gravity" as a placeholder, and that's how I'm referring to it in my notes.  I expect - hope - that we'll…

Hipster Holy Grail: Warrior of Justice, aka "Invitation to Die" (1995)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read ReviewsWarrior of Justice is a pretty terrible movie that easily falls to hilarious depths.  Unfortunately, it comes up short when put against classic good-bad movies. Despite some hilariously overdone moments early on and a breezy pace throughout, there's just not enough to recommend this one without caveats to anybody looking to fill the void who's been Birdemiced out. Add this one to your watch list when you've made it through the canon of better-known cult favorites.

My Rating: 3.5 / 5 (Novice Bad Movie)

Week in Review: 7/9/17

Movies I Watched in the Last Week 1) Okja - It's a deeply affecting movie that's making me reconsider some of my diet, even though I'm well aware that the title character is not a real animal.  Okja spans across something like seven different genres and manages to do excellent service to them all.  I don't think I can name another movie in recent memory that pulls off the same trick.

My Rating: 5 / 5

A brief review of "Catfight"

Rarely does a movie with as unlikeable a bunch of characters as Catfight keep me engaged from beginning to end.  Usually when a movie is an ensemble of dickheads, I give up on trying to find any empathy about thirty minutes in and my mind starts to wander.

It's not that I can't handle flawed protagonists or awkward situations or anything like that.  It's more that I don't take joy in seeing people drown in misery, self-inflicted or otherwise.  I need the hope that people are redeemable on some level or I just can't see the point.

For those reasons and more, Catfight is a movie that I should hate.  The characters are mean-spirited, spiteful villains who almost learn a lesson, but don't.  It has only the slightest hint of a moral, and a cruel, grim sense of humor that plays on personal tragedy.  Yet I still kinda dug it.

I think it may simply be that I respect its boldness.  The movie sets out to show you one of the most toxic relationships that could possibly ex…

No ending

Well, that was fast.  Only about two weeks ago I was saying that I was afraid the new abduction-themed horror story I'm writing would lead me face-first into a brick wall since I don't have an outline, and already I'm derailing my efforts by obsessing about the ending.

It's a fair reason to get neurotic and picky.  A story's ending isn't the be-all, end-all of its efforts, but it is the most important part.  The ending is the part you take with you, the part you remember the best.  It's the punchline.  The reward for making it through the rest.  You can get away with an ending that's merely okay as long as the rest of the story is good, but you simply cannot get away with a bad ending or a non-ending.  Nothing ruins a story faster.

And here I am with no ending in sight.

I'm really digging the premise so far.  It lends itself to all kinds of horror tropes and I'm having a great time visualizing the setting.  There are dozens of directions I can g…

Hipster Holy Grail: Hard Justice (1995)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter. It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews I really liked Hard Justice.  I'm tempted to go nuts and give it a perfect score.  But I suspect that's only because it's such a welcome change of pace from the either mostly terrible or barely-passable movies I've been watching for the HHG the last few months.  Hard Justice is mindless fluff, something I'd sit down and watch the whole way through if it happened to show up on TV, but I wouldn't make a point to revisit it year after year.  Still, as far as B action movies go, this one ranks among the upper tier.

My Rating: 4 / 5 (Not Actually Bad Movie)

One last whine before I go...

I'm about to go join some friends for a weekend of board gaming, which is a pretty welcome break from routine.  (Steph and I are as equally psyched for the games as we are the free babysitting that's been offered.)  I feel a bit overdue for a marathon gaming session.

It was suggested that I bring Mansions of Madness, since I'm the only one of the group who owns a copy.  I've decided to bring along one of the expansion modules, which has the most clever premise I've seen for a MoM game yet: "House of Fears," in which a haunted manor is used to screen a film that has supernatural powers.

I'm pretty excited for the weekend, regardless of whether or not we get around to Mansions of Madness, and I should have no reason to complain.  But, y'know, it's me, so of course I've got to get one last shot in before the family hops in the car.

Ahem.

The module has another fucking cult in it.  Sigh.

21st Century Cosmic Horror

Today, as a white man, I'll do something my people have clearly never done before: talk with authority about something I've only tangentially studied and then make it all about me.  Enjoy!

Two of the three writing projects I've been juggling lately have some aspect of horror to them, so naturally my mind wanders to horror icons that have inspired me in the past.  And pretty much all horror writers today, consciously or unconsciously, can trace many of the tropes in their arsenal back to H.P. Lovecraft.  (Who himself directly traces his inspiration to Poe, but that's going back too far for what I'm getting at today.)

Now, the thing about Lovecraft is that he was insanely racist, and that racism is integral to virtually all of his stories.  It's one of those uncomfortable truths that you just have to get out of the way and acknowledge if you're ever going to enjoy his stuff.  And some of his writing is beyond the pale; there are stories that you may just have…

Hipster Holy Grail: Street Corner Justice (1996)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter. It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews There’s a halfway decent action movie hidden in Street Corner Justice. The sort of dumb thing you’d find on TV on a lazy Sunday morning and you don’t mind wasting the time on it. If only they got rid of some of the bloat and the politics, you might even want to check it out a second time.

My Rating: 2.5 / 5 (Almost Good Movie)

Week in Review: 6/25/17

Movies I Watched in the Last Week 1) Masterminds - Eh.  It's pretty dumb and has too many gross-out jokes in it.  But if I'm being honest, the gross-out jokes were almost the only parts I laughed at, kind of just as a reflex.  I'm also not sold on this idea that you can make any character funnier by simply effecting a stereotypical southern accent.  No wonder the red states hate Hollywood - if this is your attitude, you're just being a dick.  Where was I going with this?  Oh, right, this movie isn't very funny in my opinion, even though the cast is pretty good.

My Rating: 2.5 / 5

File this under "Pet Peeves" / Ramblin' 'bout the paranormal

I was listening to a spoooooooky story on a podcast the other day, and something really rubbed me the wrong way.  The story-teller invoked a trope that's one of my biggest pet peeves.  A phrase that should be banned from all discussion:

"What other explanation could there possibly be?"

It was dropped into a paranormal context, essentially framing the tale of a haunting as being definitively caused by a ghost rather than, oh, literally anything else.  And it came at the tail end of a lot of poo-pooing of more mundane explanations as to why all the creepy stuff was happening: "There was nobody else in the house, there weren't any open windows, and even if there were, it wasn't a windy day, etc."

So, according to the storyteller, if a mundane explanation isn't immediately obvious, the only possible conclusion is ghosts.  Sigh.  Y'see, this right here is where the skeptical part of me that enjoys a good debunking aligns perfectly with the creative p…

No outline

If there's any through-line to the nonsense I wrote about on this blog, it's probably, "plan before you write."  If I'm not dispensing unsolicited (and frankly, unsubstantiated) advice about coming up with an outline, then I'm complaining that I've run into a brick wall because I can't figure out my story outline.  And if I'm not complaining that I've got problems, then I'm complaining that a movie or a book I've read has problems because they didn't come up with an outline.

So, um, I've started writing a new book without an outline.  Hmm.

For fear of spoiling the few unique twists I'm bringing to the plot, I won't describe it in too much detail just yet.  I'll just say that it's a horror/comedy about an apparent abduction that leaves the protagonist stranded in a hostile environment.  A bit of science-fiction in there, too.  Maybe if it turns into a tangible book I'll post more about it.

Starting this while…

Hipster Holy Grail: Savage Justice (1988)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read ReviewsSavage Justice is short, moves quickly, has some okay action, and includes enough arbitrary nonsense that it should keep your attention.  Unfortunately, those positives can't totally offset its flaws, so some of this still feels like a slog.  I think you could make it work for a bad movie night, so I'll give it a pass and even call it a slight recommendation.

My Rating: 3.5 / 5 (Novice Bad Movie)

Week in Review: 6/18/17

Huh, when's the last time I did a week in review?  May 28th!?  Holy crap, I really have been letting this blog slide.  Better get to it.
Movies I Watched in the Last Few Weeks 1) Runaway Train - This lived up to its reputation.  On the downside, a lot of the metaphors are pretty obvious (gee, Jon Voight's character chose to hop on the train that would eventually speed wildly out of control, hmm) and virtually all of the dialogue is the exact opposite of "subtle" (e.g., the guy at the central station who ruminates into the camera about the frailty of technology).  But never mind all that.  It's a unique anti-hero story with some of the best direction and cinematography you can find.  The nihilistic undercurrent never totally shoots the movie in the foot, and it all builds up to a pitch-perfect ending. I think if they made an alternate version with less talking, this would undoubtedly be ranked among the Great Movies of the 20th Century.

My Rating: 4 / 5

I'm too damn grumpy to watch "Trolls" (2016)

Sure, I'm picking a stupid fight.  I know it.  Complaining about kids' movies on the Internet is kinda like handing out social justice pamphlets at a Trump rally.  I don't care.  It's my blog and if there's any place where it's safe for me to grouse, it's here.

And sure, I get that most people aren't going to see Trolls for a dose of moral fiber.  I understand that the main objective is to see bright colors and sparkles and listen to bubblegumified remixes of classic Euro EDM.  Mission accomplished.  Great.

But why you gotta be so shallow, Trolls?

The main thrust of the movie is happiness.  The supposed bad guys, the Bergens, appear to be wholly incapable of happiness, whereas the supposed good guys, the Trolls, are overflowing with it. The one way the Bergens know to achieve that feeling is to eat Trolls.  To that end, they have an annual celebration called "Trollstice" where they each eat a Troll.  But then the Trolls escape.  Cue conflict.

Writer update: still jealous, still frustrated

I've been in a pretty bad rut the last month or so.  Not unlike last year when I was in a rut for the better half of the year.  But at least last year I was always chipping away at a book; this year I'm well past the arbitrary deadline I set for "Mr. Brickwell" and I haven't even started to revise or otherwise get my post-apocalyptic book ready for release.

All the usual causes are at play - kids, work, exhaustion.  The worst of it is probably my day job, which has gotten extremely stressful as of late due to a combination of factors that I probably shouldn't go into publicly.  (Note to my boss: I love my job.  Please don't fire me.)

I'd like to tell you that in these moments when I'm feeling most desperate and tired, I get a charge by digging deep inside and finding a new well of inspiration and motivation to keep going.  That does sometimes happen.  But usually I just end up getting petty and jealous about stupid things.

This time around, it'…

Hipster Holy Grail: Steele Justice (1987)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read ReviewsSteele Justice almost scratches the dumb '80s action movie itch.  It's got needlessly convoluted villains, hyper-masculinity that teeters on homoeroticism, overblown character quirks, and more than a few oddball choices that catch you by surprise.  The one thing it doesn't have: action scenes.  Without those, it falls short.  I'd still basically recommend it to anybody planning a bad movie night - just don't get too excited.

My Rating: 3.5 / 5 (Novice Bad Movie)

Fun_Dad_82 Reviews "Independence Day: Resurgence"

Stop what you're doing and ask yourself now: what are the top propaganda film?  There would have to be three contenders.  The Great Dictator, U-571, and Triumph of the Will.  But now, you would have to add Independence Day: Resurgence, and remove another.  But which one?  Vote in the comments.

Independence Day: Resurgence, or IR4 as the kids know it, is the latest liberal Hollywood ploy to make you against alien beings.  They present them all as mindless drones who serve a Queen, but Judd Hirsch is right there!  And a lady president on top of it?  Unbelievable.

But I know from the real experiences of third encounters that aliens are not all gooey types who conquer your planet. Most don't even take over your brain.  They just are exploring the universe for common themes as man, like swimming in pretty oceans and appreciation for fine cigars.  This movie does not think so.  Never since Independence Day was there such a gross misrepresentation.

The post in which I briefly panic

Ugh, this last month has been ridiculous.  I've been tempted moreso than ever before to just end this blog so that I don't have to worry about it anymore.

Between kids, work, chores, projects around the house, and a week-long stomach bug, I've been stuck in a slump.  Not just in my writing, but also for this blog.  It feels like I keep it going just for the two or three people out there who will buy my next book purely on the basis of me announcing its availability here.

Times like these invariably come on the heels of a surge in writing like I was able to accomplish just a couple of months ago.  I guess I'm not surprised by the roller coaster of time management anymore.  Just exhausted.

Hipster Holy Grail: Cruel Justice (1999)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews I'll give Cruel Justice credit for taking its premise in a more believable, empathetic, and relevant direction that the majority of movies like it.  I might even go so far as to say I could see it being useful from a social education perspective.  But my overwhelming feeling is that this is Lifetime Movie Syndrome at its worst, with the most over-wrought "tell don't show" moralizing I think I've ever seen.

My Rating: 2.5 / 5

A brief review of "Don't Think Twice" (2016)

I was hoping to give this movie a more full-fledged review with detailed notes and praise, but I'm working through some kind of sickness this week and need to keep it short.  So, here's the deal.

Don't Think Twice snuck onto Netflix a couple weeks ago with little fanfare. I think that's a shame, because it's one of the best movies they've acquired the rights to recently.

I'd like to say that the themes it covers are pretty universal, but that may be a lie; the subject matter is probably best appreciated by folks in creative fields.  Even so, the underlying matter is one of dreams.  More specifically: is it actually possible to achieve them?

That's a question all generations have struggled with to some extent, but certainly Millennials in particular.  The combination of shrinking job markets, high college costs, and general shitty attitudes toward pretty much everything we do means we're facing significant practical challenges. Worse: although technol…

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