Tuesday, June 12, 2012

12 To The Moon Vs. The Mask













* = I love that last line...











I had all sorts of ideas ringing through my head concerning what I was going to babble about today. There has been a lot of interesting and frustrating relationship things going on around me of late on multiple fronts. There was a part of me that wanted to write about what it means to be in a relationship, any relationship be it friend or more. I’ve been perplexed by us as human beings and how we interact and what we mean to each other. I was prepared to this.

Then I remembered that no one really cares about what I think about that crap. Or if they do we have those conversations in hushed voices between laughs and tears. So perhaps I’ll write about my thoughts on emotional connections, the formation of relationships, and how communication is the key to happiness another day. Today, today I’m talking about nerdy crap…

Dave came over on Sunday night and we watched a little flick called Bunny & The Bull (**** ½ out of 5). I had NO earthly idea what to expect as he said the box said it was a “road movie that takes place in an apartment.” That’s a quirky premise, a delightfully British idea. Little did I know what I was really getting into. I’ll try and be pretty general since I really hope that at least a few of you go out and give this flick a go. The movie follows Stephen who hasn’t left his home in a year. As the film progresses you start to realize that not only is Stephen an agoraphobic, but that he’s got some serious mental health issues stemming from some event. The movie is mainly told through flashbacks of events that led him to this point, mainly a road trip through Europe he took with his ‘pal’ Bunny. Bunny is that guy we all know who is simultaneous our best friend and our worst enemy. He’s self-centered, oblivious to the fallout of his actions, and led from encounter to encounter by his vices. He’s also someone who seems to care for Stephen in a way no other human being ever has. Suffice to say when you hit the third act the movie goes from being abstractly absurd and fun to being somewhat serious and sad. It’s not a jarring tonal shift, as it fits the characters, the story, and their journey but it’s a significant change. I want to point out the set design as it’s amazing. There is this fantasy quality to all of it, as the world around Stephen in his trip down memory lane is made up of things from his apartment; books, paper, blankets, etc. The movie doesn’t try to be anything else than a dream. It has the visual sensibilities of Terry Gilliam, in fact if I had to compare it in tone and style to anything I would say it was a flick that seemed to have its eyes and vision from Gilliam and its heart from Wes Anderson. It’s not a perfect film, there are some slight issues I had with it like Bunny becoming more and more unlikable as the movie progresses, the way the shift in tone occurs, and how some of the funniest scenes seem like skits that don’t connect with the film overall. That being said those scenes, especially the one with the Polish Homeless Man are a F’Ning riot. So if you’re looking for a great little movie that’s off the beaten path do yourself a favor and seek out Bunny & The Bull.

I finally finished Robert Chambers ‘The King In Yellow’ (*** ½ out of 5). I was ill prepared for this book. I knew it was ‘Strange Fiction’, and that it was lauded by men like Clark Ashton Smith & Lovecraft, but it wasn’t at all what I expected. The ‘Repairer Of Reputations’ is absolutely off the charts amazing. You can feel the menace emanating from those pages. It’s one of my favorite short horror stories ever. The thing is I expected the rest of the book to be THIS, and it is not. It’s not that at all. The second tale ‘The Mask’ has some horror elements, but it has this touching side. This sense of love conquering all, and as we move through the rest of the book that’s theme I took from Chambers work. This is especially true in ‘The Street Of The First Shell’ & ‘The Street Of Our Lady Of The Fields’. I have to be honest both of these tales had me teary eyed by their end. ‘The Street Of The First Shell’, to me, is about the putting aside of pride and rage for love. To find love in another and especially in one who is flawed, is what life is. The ability to set aside the parts of yourself that are selfish and self-destructive for that person is the ultimate test of our devotion. Chambers ability to convey this in his lush writing is heart wrenching. In ‘The Streets Of Our Lady Of The Fields’ Chambers throws the normal gender roles off kilter to tell a story of love bringing redemption, the story shows how the innocence of love brings renewal to anyone. It’s just a fantastic story. By the by, I’m not saying that the rest of the tales aren’t good, they are it’s just that these four stories are outstanding. The strange tone of horror and love mixing just throws you off as a reader, and that’s the only reason I can’t give it a higher rating. I do feel like this is a book that should be read by everyone just to get a taste of what Chambers was able to accomplish with not only his tales but with his writing which is just beyond words. So go out and give it a try, because if it was good enough for Lovecraft then by Hastur it’s good enough for you!

Now on a sad note I have finished my time with William Hartnell. I just want to point out a few things before I get to the two serial themselves. First off, Hartnell was an incredible Doctor. I was amazed how much I enjoyed him, and how you can see parts of his performance in the subsequent Doctors. Secondly, Hartnell’s mannerisms were TOTALLY ripped off by Frank Oz when he was Yoda. The constant “Hmmm” after statements, the hands, etc. it’s really bizarre, and by bizarre I mean mind blowingly awesome. In a perfect nerd world you can just pretend that Hartnell’s Doctor IS YODA! Did you feel that? I just pulled you down a ‘nerd hole’. Anywho, I think the real key to Hartnell’s Doctor is his ability to take the insane and the effects they had at the time and sell you on them. There is a real sense of wonder when he talks, there is a sense of discovery at every stop his TARDIS makes, and his grandiose nature is what guys like Tom Baker & David Tennant gleefully revel in. Hartnell’s Doctor is gruff, a plotter, a kind old grandfather, a doddering old man, a gentleman, mischievous, frustrated, but more than anything else an explorer. I have cherished my time watching these gems. Now onto the episodes…

- The Smugglers (**** out of 5) – I really wasn’t into this serial after the first episode. Maybe it was Polly & Ben being a tad bit whinier than I thought they’d be or sort of the meandering pace or maybe it’s that I’m tiring of ‘Reconstructed’ episodes. Whatever it was it quickly changed. This serial has to do with pirate smugglers off the shore of Cornwall, unscrupulous townsfolk, diligent Tax Collectors, misunderstandings, and murder! There is a vibe very similar to Hammer Films’ ‘Captain Clegg’, starring indomitable Peter Cushing (who was Doctor Who in the two movies!); if you remember my review of that movie in this very blog you’ll know just how fond of it I was. There is just this strange sense of wonder and danger in this serial. It could be because I wasn’t sure if Polly or Ben would make, or maybe it’s just because stories about Pirates are pretty damn fun when done right. Either way I was pleasantly surprised by this episode.

- The Tenth Planet (**** ½ out of 5) – Let’s get this out of the way first, Old School Cybermen are FRIGGIN’ AWESOME! Sure they look like their costumes were made in someone’s basement the night before, and the line delivery is beyond bizarre both in mouth movement and in audio, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work. It feels so alien and otherworldly that you hardly notice the impracticality and those wonderful Doctor Who moments where visually it just gets goofy. I have to admit, the story itself was just O.K., the General character was BEYOND irritating, there were some holes in the logic of the tale as well especially the ‘Z Bomb’ protocols, however every time the Cybermen storm the installation it’s like a crazy metallic zombie attack. As much as I love the current Cybermen, I really do feel there is a place in Doctor Who for this version as sort of a less developed Cyberman/Zombie led only by the will and desires of the Master Controller. But I digress; the Companions were much more integrated in this episode, as both Polly and Ben had moments where they shined. Although again I’d like to point out that for a guy with military training who we’ve seen be sort of a bad ass in a fight Ben spends a lot of time getting his ass kicked. I liked Penny’s use of not her beauty, but her compassion to sway an ally to their side in the prevention of potential nuclear disaster. It’s not the best episode by any stretch, but it’s the first time get the Cybermen and it’s the last hooray of William Hartnell. It’s quiet cool to see that first regeneration and in the end we’re left with Patrick Troughton! I’m really looking forward to seeing where he takes The Doctor, the TARDIS, the Companions, and us as viewers.

Another week passed and we were slapped with another Rise Of The Runelords preview. This week it’s the Rare Stone Golem. I know it’s lifted from a picture out of the Adventure Path, but I’m just not that blown away. I love the crazy skull face, and the pose is reasonably dynamic. It’s definitely has sort a “HULK SMASH!” thing going on, but it also feels contrived. I know if I was to pick this up, I most likely wouldn’t be using it as a Stone Golem. I would maybe use it as some ‘Big Bad’, perhaps some type of Bodak King, or even as ‘Destroyer like’ shell for an evil wizard to inhabit. I think there is only like 5 more miniatures left before the entire set has been revealed. The beauty of this set seems to be that the Commons are going to be where my main interest lies. Sure there a few Rares that look fantastic, I’m just not really sure that I’m going to the cash or the desire to spend it on any of the potentially more expensive pieces in this set. Especially with what’s on the horizon….

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

BAM! Three new Terraclips sets! The first seems to be Dungeon Essentials. If you look closely at the picture it looks absolutely chock full of props, risers to add height and depth to rooms, and if my eyes aren’t tricking me I see a metal spiked grinding wheel trap! The set just seems to be oozing atmosphere and modularity. The steps are really incredibly looking as well as the giant gateway. I’ll be curious to see just what it is you can build with a single box of this set. It seems to be much less ‘boxy’ than the previous set, because if you’ll notice there are noticeable hard edged platforms. As well as what looks like angled hallways, could that mean we’re going to get new variations in the Clips themselves? That leads to an unlimited amount of potential builds. Imagine Warhammer Quest or D&D Adventure System Games or hell just regular old D&D on these. GAH! It’s just gorgeous, and I am intrigued and excited to see more. Which leads us to set number 2, entitled Vaults Of Ruin for obvious reasons, broken walkways, old decrepit columns, and the potential to layer this with the first set to build an old ruin. It looks as if you’ll get destroyed walls as well, which could allow an ambitious builder to make ruined cities, or just ruined districts in a city, or the remains of an old Keep where you are planning on going into the bowels of it in search of fortune or glory only to be ambushed in the ruins by a Hill Giant and his Gnoll followers. And if I look really closely I see ruin piles that are perfect not just for the aforementioned Gnoll Ambush, but for showing Impassable Terrain, hidey holes for Halfling Snipers, or just a place for an injured PC to lie low. I also have to say how impressed I am with the high arcing doorways, as it’s a drastic change from the first three sets, but at the same time would be a welcome addition. Last but not least is the third set, Prison Of The Forsaken! Out of all three sets, this is the one that I’m the least excited about, and by ‘least excited’ I mean I’m still willing to sell your children into slavery to have it. There is almost a Steam Punk or Fantasy Tech vibe going on here, which is usually not in the wheelhouse of most of my games, although maybe it should be. It also looks like something straight out of the City Of Brass or the Elemental Plane Of Fire. It has a very derelict feel to, perhaps like a Chaos Space Marine ship with all its brass, blood, and rust. It’s funny how I just got done talking about how this was my least favorite of the set images and yet my brain is running off in all sorts of directions about what you could potentially do with this. That’s the beauty of what the folks at World Works Games have done. They’ve given us the DM’s & Players the Ultimate Modular Building Tools. The textures and images look fantastic which is what I’ve come to expect from Denny Unger and his cohorts. If you play or run games do yourself and your fellow players a favor, save a bit of money, and Pre-Order theses sets. As an owner and adamant user of the first three Terraclips sets, let me just re-assure you that they are worth EVERY PENNY!

I think I threw a rod in my brain getting all Geeked up over the Terraclips. How about we both attempt to recover from their glory with some…

RANDOM CRAP!

- I need to watch Richard Ayoade’s ‘Submarine’. It looks really solid, and he’s never failed me before. Perhaps this weekend.

- Its official Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will be done after this season, which has been pretty damn good so far. It’ll be replaced with Avengers Assemble, which will take place in the same shared Animated Universe as the current Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, and the upcoming Hulk & the Agents Of S.M.A.S.H. I get that Marvel and Disney are working hard to get all their ducks in the same row as the Avengers movie, that being said don’t re-boot the thing. Just go at like DC did when they transitioned from Justice League to Justice League Unlimited. Acknowledge what came before, I don’t need to see a new group of people bumble through Avengers lore, especially when the current group of writers have done such an outstanding job of hitting the high lights, integrating modern or Ultimate continuity, and yet appealing to the Fan Boy in all of us. I’m guardedly optimistic.

- Oh and one more cartoon aside, Young Justice has surpassed Avengers, even its first season. The relationships, the cast size, the ambition, and the twists and turns are dizzying. It might be the best DC Cartoon ever. I feel like I’ve just blasphemed writing that.

You know I really thought I had something more to say… Oh well…

“All I've ever wanted was destiny to be fulfilled

It is in my hands, I must not fail, I must not fail



Even through the darkest days

This fire burns always

This fire burns always



This is the proving ground

Misery begins to rise

Turn away from yesterday

Tomorrow's in my eyes, oh



Nevermore to be held down

By the wings of history

Nevermore to be cast aside

This day is mine



Even through the darkest days

This fire burns always

This fire burns always



I will not be denied in this final hour

I will not be denied, this day is mine

This passion inside me is burning, is burning

This passion inside me is burning, is burning



Even through the darkest days

This fire burns always, always

This fire burns, fire burns, always

Always, always”







* = Dave just substitute 'Girl' with your name...

2 comments:

  1. It's really nice of Good Guy Greg to do that for that poor divorcee.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's why he's a 'Good Guy'...

    ReplyDelete