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Showing posts from August, 2017

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.


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…