Monday, February 19, 2018

(More) Crazy Ex-Bloopers

Another season, another set of bloopers.  Well, okay, it's actually been two more seasons of the show now, but I only just saw this gag reel now.   NSFW, needless to say.

In fairness to the actors, I myself have referred to "the hilarious Rebecca Bunch" several times when talking up Rachel Bloom.  At least pick different initials, come on!  Or pull a Tony Danza.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Green Lantern's Name

Time normalizes many of the dumbest ideas, which brings me to the fact that "Green Lantern" is, objectively, a pretty nonsensical superhero name.  For non-comic readers, Green Lantern gets his name from the fact that he (and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps members throughout the universe) all have to charge their super-powered rings from a lantern-shaped power battery.  The rings only operate based on the wearer's willpower, but even the strongest-willed person around can't get anything out of a GL ring unless it has first been charged.  It's like how you can have the best race car driver in the world behind the wheel, but it won't matter if the car doesn't have any gas.

Anyway, the "Green Lantern" name makes some sense once you know the whole backstory.  From a marketing and branding perspective, however, there are tons of flaws.  To wit...

* Who actually knows this backstory?  Pretend Green Lantern existed in real life.  One day, a green-suited superhero actually shows up and starts helping humanity.  While there would undoubtedly be intense speculation about the nature of his hero's powers (and speculation about everything about the hero in general), the public would know that this guy could a) fly, b) have green energy all around him and c) could use that green energy to create objects and whatnot.  So, naturally, having "Green" in the name makes a lot of sense given the colour motif.  The problem I see here is that the average person would have no idea where the "Lantern" part is coming from.  Example:

Random person: Wow, thanks for rebuilding our dam and saving the town from flooding, mysterious superpowered stranger!
Green Lantern: Think nothing of it, just helping out those in need!
Person: Wow, whatever do we call you?
GL (with hands proudly on hips): The Green Lantern!
Person: ….uh, what? 
GL: That's right, the Green Lantern!  See, there's a little picture of a lantern here on my chest.  I didn't draw the logo myself but still, it's pretty cool.
Person: Wait, what does a lantern have to do with anything?  That ring you're wearing seems to be pretty clearly be your main deal, shouldn't we call you the Green Ring?  Or Ringman, possibly?
GL: Nope, it's Green Lantern all the way. 
Person: But that makes no…
GL: Look buddy, I fixed your damn dam, just go with me on this, okay?

I mean, it's possible that Hal Jordan/John Stewart/Guy Gardner/Kyle Rayner/any of the several earthlings who have held a GL ring at one time or another actually publicly explained the name and the whole power battery thing.  Except…that makes no sense either, since why would you reveal your power source like that?  Wouldn't your enemies then focus on finding this power battery and thus completely robbing you of your abilities? 

Forget "the colour yellow" being a Green Lantern's weakness, which is stupid enough in itself --- the real weakness is that a Green Lantern is a completely mortal person who is totally reliant on the power battery in order to operate.  By contrast, Batman is only incrementally less dangerous without his suit and utility than he would be in street clothes.  Iron Man without his armour isn't much of a threat, except at least Tony Stark himself is still a technological genius who can whip some kind of makeshift device or weapon in a pinch.  A Green Lantern without a working ring, however, is essentially useless.  Why call attention to your biggest weakness in your very name?**  Or, if the GLs just never explained their name, did the entire DC Universe collectively decide to just not ask about it since the Lanterns were being so cool about saving the world and whatnot?
* Who is supposed to be impressed by the name "Green Lantern"?  It isn't intimidating, like Superman or the Hulk.  It isn't descriptive, like Spider-Man or the Human Torch.  As noted, it's a name that requires a lot of explanation, which immediately makes it a non-starter in terms of striking fear into the hearts of criminals.  It doesn't even pass the bouncer nickname test.  Say you're in charge of hiring a bouncer for your nightclub and you're told that your final two candidates have nicknames.  One guy is known as 'the Punisher.'  Yikes, that sounds like a guy who can take care of business, no question.  The other guy is known as…you guessed it, 'Green Lantern.'  What, does he shine a bright light into people's eyes to try and calm them down? 

* If you're going to name yourself after your gear, why this piece of gear?  As noted earlier by some random person, "Ringman" or "Green Ring" are more sensible names for a Green Lantern.  Sure, you're again calling attention to the ring as the main source of your power, but in that case it's hard to avoid --- Green Lanterns in the comics are always pointing their rings at the bad guys to blast them with energy or what have you, though given the ring's wide scope, actually pointing your hand in the right direction seems redundant.

Naming yourself after your signature weapon is fine, in and of itself.  "Green Arrow" is a perfectly decent name for an archery-centric superhero.  "Doctor Octopus" has six mechanical arms, that checks out.  Hell, I'd argue that Aquaman would be perceived as much less of a joke to the general public if his name was actually "Trident."  But you're getting just a bit too obscure with "Green Lantern" especially when the actual lantern-shaped battery itself is rarely actually called a 'lantern.'  I haven't read a ton of GL comics over the years but of the ones I have read, the power battery is just called….the power battery.  Though it's a little abstract itself, I'd even consider that a better superhero name --- I'd be scared of a bouncer known as 'Power Battery,' wouldn't you?

If a new superhero called the Lightbulb or Captain Florescent was introduced today, we'd laugh it out of the building.  Green Lantern is just as dumb a name, but it's been grandfathered in by 70 years of history.  Green Ring forever, man. 

** = This was going to be a footnote but it ran so long that I just stuck the whole thing at the bottom of the post as a dessert course, if you will.  I've always been intrigued by the idea that comic book fans have a much wider knowledge of a character's powers than the characters themselves.  How would you properly 'scout' a friend or foe in this world?  Everyone would know that, say, Superman is hella-strong and can fly, but are lesser-known powers like the super-breath a known quantity?  Like, you're a minor hero teamed up with Supes at some point and he just busts out a freezing-cold gust of wind to stop an oncoming tidal wave or something.  You'd be like, "holy crap, where did THAT come from?"  Fans can feel this way too, as I think everyone was pretty surprised during the old Christopher Reeve movies when Superman could suddenly a) erase Lois' memories with a kiss, b) throw a giant saran-wrap S from his chest emblem and c) somehow turn back time by flying around the earth so fast that it "reverses the rotation," which even in comic-book science is an affront to the physics.

Anyway, it would seem to be a superhero's benefit if they didn't make all their powers so publicly known, in order to give them an edge in battles.  Green Lantern's odd name may actually help in this sense, provided that he never explains its origin.  Interestingly, in modern comics, the hero with the best sense of keeping secrets about himself is Batman.  I would presume that relatively few DC Universe characters actually know Batman doesn't have any powers, since he's so good about keeping up the mystique.  One of my favourite character details of the old Grant Morrison Justice League comics was that the younger heroes (Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and the Wally West Flash) were kind of intimidated by Batman, despite his being their teammate and the fact that either of them could decimate Bruce in a second if it came right down to it.  This is just more reason why Batman is the coolest.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Jam Session

Two things I always do when making a peanut butter-and-jam sandwich...

* sing the "de-de-DE-de-de, JAM" hook from the old NBA Jam commercials
* say "ooooh, jambon!" in a cartoony voice, even though I know full well that 'jambon' means 'ham'

Two things I don't do, oddly, are break into a rendition of Bob Marley's "Jammin'" or any songs by Pearl Jam.  In theory, "Yellow Ledbetter" would fit since it sounds kind of like peanut butter, and the butter (or margarine) I'm using on the spread is yellow.

This has been today's glimpse into my odd life!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Oscar Effects

A cool compilation of every film that has ever won a special effects/visual effects Oscar.  Quite the evolution (sometimes a very quick evolution) of how technology has developed over time, though it is funny how "2001: A Space Odyssey" is just a giant quantum leap ahead of everything beforehand, and is then immediately followed by the very schlocky-looking space adventure "Marooned."  (Though in fairness, it seems like nothing really catches up to 2001 until at least the 90's.  Fun fact: that visual effects award was the only Oscar Stanley Kubrick ever won.)   

Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Superb Owl

I mean....there's just no way Philadelphia is winning this game, right?  Am I missing something?  A team led by Nick Foles is supposed to overtake the mighty Patriots?  Foles isn't even that bad a quarterback but let's be real, people.  My mom isn't even wearing her notoriously unlucky Tom Brady jersey today, which extinguishes any hope an Eagles fan might have.

That being said, here are five reasons a Philly fan might have hope:

1. I almost turned that earlier sentence into a joke of "Foles isn't even that bad a quarterback but let's be real, people, he's no Eli Manni....hey wait..."  Maybe the Patriots' Super Bowl kryptonite is facing a mediocre quarterback, whereas they've beaten all of the good ones they've faced --- Kurt Warner, Donovan McNabb, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, pre-Crisis Jake Delhomme.  Ok, the presence of Delhomme diminishes my argument a bit, but still.

2. Carson Wentz blowing out his knee and forcing Foles into the starting job isn't quite the same as the Drew Bledsoe/Tom Brady scenario, but it's close enough to merit a raised eyebrow.  It would be kind of poetic if the Patriots were topped by another team pressing its backup QB into action.  Just imagine the offseason discussion in Philly if the Eagles did somehow win this game, and then had to decide between selling high on Foles or (gulp) even Wentz in a trade.

3. Basically the only chance the Eagles have is if Brady gets injured during the game, which leads to two more ironic karma points.  Firstly, Brady getting hurt at a crucial juncture in the same season that he's gone whole hog on his TB12 magical rejuvenation health kick. 

4. Secondly, Brady going down and the Patriots being forced to deploy Brian Hoyer just a few months after they bit the bullet and finally traded Jimmy Garoppolo. 

5. The NFC was a much better conference than the AFC this season, dominating in head-to-head play and just basic eye-test common sense.  The Steelers and Jaguars were the next-best AFC teams behind New England, and both of those teams were majorly flawed.  If I'm ranking the ten best teams in the NFL this year, the Pats are the only AFC team in my top five, with the Wentz-led Eagles, Vikings, Saints, and probably the Panthers as fifth.  I'd be very open to listening to arguments for the Rams over Pittsburgh or Jacksonville.  Hell, you could talk me into the Garoppolo-led 49ers.

So keep these five points in mind as the Patriots are wrapping up their inevitable 27-20 victory later today.  Whatever happens, this still won't be the wildest scenario in Eagles Super Bowl history since, remember, they were the Dolphins' opponent in "Ace Ventura."  If Tom Brady were kidnapped during the week but made a stunning return at halftime, it would be funny if Belichick kept him on the bench. "Well Tom, you did break team rules by missing practice..."

Friday, February 02, 2018


I'm kicking myself for a) not posting this every February 2nd, and b) not scheduling this post for 6am.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


There are tonal shifts, there are abrupt tonal shifts, and then there’s the “twitterpated” sequence in Bambi.  The iconic and heartbreaking scene of Bambi’s mother’s death is admittedly hard to follow up on in any respect, so the filmmakers just turned into the skid by going immediately from that scene to….Bambi, Thumper, and Flower now suddenly teenage bros in the thrones of hormones.  Far me it for me to suggest that a 70-minute movie should’ve had an intermission, but maybe this would’ve been a good point for the film to go to a shot of Walt Disney sitting behind a desk, singing “Let’s All Go To The Lobby.”

Obviously you’re going to read things differently in 2018 than in 1942, but man, this scene has gone from comic interlude to unintentionally comic pretty hard.  I mean, I guess since Bambi, Thumper, and Flower apparently hadn’t seen each other in years, their near-immediate ditching of the others once they find their female counterparts is understandable, but man, it comes off as cold.  The internet, letting me down as always, couldn’t even provide a GIF of that image of Flower popping up from the flowerbed to dismiss his pals with a laugh and a “whatcha gonna do?” shrug.

After Flower comes Thumper, and, let’s see how to put this.  He meets the female bunny and then immediately starts, uh, “thumping.”  Nothing euphemistic about this, folks.  For pete’s sake, Thumper even falls asleep afterwards.  Disney couldn't have hit us over the head any more unless the movie had actually stopped at that point for a Kleenex commercial.

And finally, here's the star of the show, Bambi himself. First of all, the movie omits another major part of puberty, the point in life when Bambi (in the tradition of guys who went through the first part of their lives known as Mikey, Ricky, Matty, Jordy, etc.) must have demanded that his name be shortened to sound more mature. In this case, he'd just insist that Thumper and Flower start referring to him only as 'Bam.' Maybe it was a deleted scene.

Anyway, Bambi meets his fawn in the woods and they go jumping around on clouds in another subtle metaphor.  All is well and good until another buck shows up to make a play for the fawn, and Bambi just goes hogwild (deerwild?) and throws down on this dude.  The movie suddenly morphs into Mortal Kombat, and Bambi's fatality is to push this other buck off of a cliff to his death.  Good lord, that escalated quickly!  Take it down a notch, Bambi! Just take a more passive-aggressive approach, like 'accidentally' spilling water on the guy's pants or making subtle jabs at his job.  Neither of these would've worked in this particular case (the other buck wasn't wearing pants, nor was he in O.R. scrubs), but even still, there must be an easier path to Feline’s heart than straight-up murder.  On the other hand, she seems to be into it?  Was there a Bambi 2, where Bam and “Fel” go on a Bonnie & Clyde-esque crime spree around the forest?  The comparisons between Thumper and Michael J. Pollard are hard to miss.  

So, to sum up, Disney views puberty as being a time when you abandon your friends, start virtually pleasuring yourself in the woods, and being driven to jealous murder.  If the movie had worked in, say, a squirrel dealing with acne, that would've covered it.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Neon Movie Posters

An old link but a very cool one showcasing a collection of movie posters re-designed as neon signs.  I may have to license that Clark Kent one after I open my Superman-themed diner, the Fortress of Eggsitude.  Spoiler alert: my restaurant will serve tremendous eggs.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Conan's Successor

The Vice-Conan?  The backup Conan?  (Or Conan O'Backup.)  Will this lead to David being trapped in a glass box with "in case of emergency" written on it?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Oscar Nomination Reactions

So, what’s going to win Best Picture?  This hard-to-predict Oscar race is still slightly askew even after this morning’s nominations.  Going by the traditional precursors (the major guild awards and the Golden Globes), it seems like all of the contenders are missing at least one usually-key statistic in its favour. 

“Shape Of Water,” for instance, cleaned up in Oscar nominations but wasn’t nominated for a Screen Actors Guild ensemble award.  “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was seemingly scoring everywhere but then Martin McDonagh didn’t get a Best Director nomination.  Everyone loves “Get Out” and “Lady Bird” as underdog candidates but neither were nominated for an editing Oscar.  “Dunkirk” seemed to be losing momentum by the second and nobody really seems to like the movie, yet it notched all of the Academy’s key categories.

You have to say that Shape Of Water is still the favourite at this point, though who knows, Three Billboards can still get in there based on the seemingly lessening importance of the Best Picture/Best Director connection.  Only one of the last five Best Pictures saw its director also win, and one of those films (Argo) won despite Ben Affleck being snubbed entirely from the directing slate.  You also can’t count out Get Out or Lady Bird, though the fact that they’re both in the running could split the “beloved underdog” vote.  Dunkirk could still yet sneak in, or maybe I should be making more of “Phantom Thread” emerging from out of semi-nowhere as an apparent Academy darling.  Quite a bit if still up in the air, and I’ll believe any scenario come Oscar night — a tie, another mistaken winner announced, whatever.

Some more observations…

* This is the first time in a while that I haven’t seen every Best Picture candidate by the time the nominees were announced.  You’re still on my list, The Post!  I have a vague “eat your vegetables” sense about my desire to see the movie, thanks to that damn Bridge Of Spies.  Don’t let me down again, Spielberg!

* Man, that Best Director category is just about my favourite slate of nominees ever.  I didn’t even much care for Dunkirk, but Christopher Nolan was so absurdly overdue for a directing nomination that I don’t begrudge him finally getting on the Academy’s list.

* First-time acting nominees: Margot Robbie, Daniel Kaluuya, Timothee Chalamet, Sam Rockwell, Mary J. Blige, Lesley Manville, Laurie Metcalf and Alison Janney.  It seems like at least one of the winners will come from this list — one of Metcalf/Janney will win Supporting Actress, and Rockwell has to be the favourite in Supporting Actor.

* Speaking of that category, you could see Rockwell and Woody Harrelson split the votes of the Three Billboards supporters, paving the way for Willem Dafoe (long overdue, critics’ awards darling), Christoper Plummer (respect for his emergency bailout of his film) or even Richard Jenkins (if Shape Of Water sweeps).  Rockwell has to be considered the favourite, but still, suspense!

* If there was a category for Best Supporting Location, the winner is clearly Call Me By Your Name, which honestly could’ve been two hours of just the Italian countryside and that gorgeous house and I would’ve been satisfied. 

* Perhaps the most notable first-timer in more than one sense is Rachel Morrison, who is somehow the first woman ever nominated for a cinematography Oscar.  ONE female nominee in 90 years?  Yikes, Academy.

* Can she win?  Well, Morrison has the advantage of going up against famed Oscar-loser Roger Deakins, who is still trying to land that first trophy through 14 freaking nominations.  There isn’t really a bad choice in this category (scratch that…Darkest Hour, huh?) but man, Deakins losing again and again is just getting ridiculous at this point.  Not as ridiculous as, say, womankind’s 90-year cinematography losing streak, but still.

* So with eight first-time acting nominees, that means we have 12 familiar names filling out the rest of the categories.  Meryl Streep got her record 21st acting nomination, Denzel Washington got his eighth, Daniel Day-Lewis his sixth, Frances McDormand her fifth, Saoirse Ronan/Willem Dafoe/Christopher Plummer/Octavia Spencer/Woody Harrelson their third each, and Gary Oldman/Sally Hawkins/Richard Jenkins are each up for the second time.  Streep and DDL can each tie Katherine Hepburn’s record of four Oscars with a victory, while Denzel can join the three-Oscar club with a win.

* I had a bit of a personal stake in this year’s Academy Awards, since an acquaintance of mine worked on The Shape Of Water.  (On the special effects side of things, I should note…I’m not (yet) friends with, like, Sally Hawkins.)  While the film got nominated in 13 categories, however, I’m not at this moment sure my chum will get to share in the fun, since Shape Of Water didn’t score a Best Visual Effects nod.  Not that the five actual nominees weren’t deserving either but man, throw a local boy a bone!

* Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood is an Oscar nominee!  The strings in Phantom Thread (not a pun) were so gorgeous, give him the trophy, Academy!

* Agnes Varda, in the same year she’s getting an honorary Oscar, is also up for first competitive award.

* Here’s a question I never thought I’d ask: what does Tom Hanks have to do to get nominated for an Oscar?  Do you realize it’s been 17 years since he last got a nod?  I haven’t seen The Post yet so I can’t judge if he deserved one or not this year, but between that, Bridge Of Spies, Sully, Saving Mr. Banks, and (especially) Captain Phillips, a curious pattern of overlooking is developing.  To be fair, the only one that is a real overt omission is Captain Phillips, yet you’d think Hanks would’ve scored at least one “aw, we love Tom, let’s nominate him!” nod over all these years.

* The Thomas Lennon who made one of the nominated documentary shorts is sadly not the same Thomas Lennon from The State.  C’est la vie.

* A great year for superhero movies is recognized in the form a best adapted screenplay nomination for “Logan,” which was strongly deserved.  I was vaguely hoping that Patrick Stewart could’ve snuck in there for Supporting Actor but I’ll take what I can get.