Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Some People Say We Have To Leave It There

Upton Sinclair
I was pleased to see this quote on Chris Hayes's show a few weeks back.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
It's from Upton Sinclair in 1935, about his failed run for the California governorship, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked. I believe Greg Mitchell has written some on it.

And Hayes was looking at this in regards to climate change, were it is apt. But it clearly goes beyond that. The media and conservative politics have a vested interest in not paying serious attention to many serious issues.

Elections, infrastructure, voting access, any scientific consensus, etc.

For the GOP it's more important to redefine a situation to fit and agree with their decades old ideological stances. No matter the state of the economy, the answer to improve things will be a series of tax cuts. No matter how much need there is in the country for aid, the answer will be to cut the social safety net. No matter the national security standing of the nation, increased expenditures are needed. And actual understanding is irrelevant to these politicians jobs.

And even when their once was agreement about the facts and the problem, new pressure from the old guard means that it's better to no longer agree with yourself. The future of environment will no longer be a problem. Access to birth control becomes controversial. They may have had some common sense, but that common sense isn't worth losing their jobs, or paychecks over.

It's all sports, particularly for the media. Who sounds better? Who's more convincing? Who's more popular? Who had the biggest blooper this week?

For the media, if it wants to talk about some blatantly ridiculous fact free position of a political party, it will only get them "labelled". And that seems to scare the media. They won't get invited to all the parties. Press flacks won't rush to them with the latest spin. So it's better to not rock the boat, unless everyone already agrees on the topic. Then it's a lot easier.

They learn to not be controversial to the wrong people.

So media becomes ridiculous, often playing it safe. Often not digging beneath the surface. Often just repeating what others say, without questioning the validity. It's not worth risking that salary to look closer.

Former Secretary of State (and future presidential candidate) Hilary Clinton had this thought on the state of media:
"A lot of serious news reporting has become more entertainment driven and more opinion-driven as opposed to factual," she said. "People book onto the shows, political figures, commentators who will be controversial who will be provocative because it’s a good show. You might not learn anything but you might be entertained and I think that’s just become an unfortunate pattern that I wish could be broken."
And I can't disagree. There are some good venues still out there. Some that are interested in a real discussion or real analysis, but it's mostly fluff you could fast forward through and miss nothing.

Honestly, how many shows bring on a round table that spout off the obvious? So little new information comes out. So it's come to the point that news channels need to have constant ALERTS and BREAKING NEWS.

They may be stating the obvious. They may be repeating information you already heard earlier in the day. But you get a flashing words at the bottom of the screen.

We need people who understand what they are doing, and care about what they are doing. And it wouldn't hurt if they cared about serious discussions and debates.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Trailers In Short - Monsters Don't Respect Boundaries Edition

Flipping monsters. Always stomping on your house, eating your friends, being racist caricatures, or arresting you. They are such bores.

You see this, monsters?


That's class in a large and respectful being. You can carefully walk over something without destroying it. Learn something!

But would it be Summer without our monsters? We will never know. So let's look at the terror to come this Summer. Nymph. Transformers 4. Godzilla. Wolfcop.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Trailers In Short - Dystopic Battle Jam

In a world where movie voice over guys rule the world...One man has all the answers, and has chewed all the bubblegum. One woman wishes it was Tuesday, so she could take the day off. And one plucky kid better get off the computer before his parents ground him...Looking at you.

Dystopic futures. Grim battlegrounds, war torn cities, and nasty heartless governments...I am talking about the future, right? ...Still, it's always an option for movie makers, as long as some urban center in the world is suffering an economic downturn. And this year we've have a new dented rusted batch...From the crappy future! Edge of Tomorrow. The Purge: Anarchy. Battle of the Damned.

Edge of Tomorrow

I was going to have good things to say about this trailer. The first 80 seconds made me hopeful. (Even with Cruise warning he has important news, and the fleet of planes flying, I was avoiding ANY Scientology jokes.) It starts with a future war. And Tom Cruise is playing a recruit is looping through time, again and again.

That could be interesting. A man out of time. Stuck in a grim war. A horrible loss coming. But this odd loop he's in may hold the answer to ending the conflict. Interesting Science Fiction premise.

Then it starts turning into a action packed "Run! Tom! Run!" movie. It feels duller by the end of the trailer. A tacked on romance to boot. It is such a Tom Cruise movie.

The Purge: Anarchy

The first teaser came out and I was underwhelmed. The first movie didn't do much. And the new teaser suggested a story about a couple running through a city gone wild...But...There was a flurry of clips near the end that showed a wider view of this Purge world. And you had to wonder.

So this movie is looking more and more complicated, if we're lucky. It might actually be a series of experiences from different perspectives that are drawn together in the narrative. It could actually give an interesting look at this world, and how it really functions. Hunters. Prey. Rich. Not rich. People out for vengeance. People who order take out victims.

You know, in the first teaser, there was a quick clip that looked like some rich people readying to kill a family member. It made me wonder. What if you did a country manor murder mystery in this world. All these rich people lock themselves away, safe from the rabble. Then someone is killed. It wouldn't say much about this world, but it would be an odd play on this concept.

Still, this movie may be a good sequel. Or it may be a poorly made mess. I hope to hear good things.

Battle of the Damned

Dolph Lundgren fights zombies. ...What? Do we need more reason to watch a movie?

Okay. Did I mention the robots? They also fight the zombies.

Dolph. Zombies. Robots. Fighting.

Come on! How do you not rent that at least once?

Sure, he's on a rescue mission in a cut off city. It's borrowing heavily from Escape From New York, but...Dolph, Zombies, and Robots...?

I think nothing more needs to be said.

Trailers In Short - Brains Don't Work That Way Edition

So many Go To's in science fiction fantasy. Among them is the magic of the human mind. It can do anything. Get Uploaded. Get Downloaded. Time Travel. Make Heads Explode.

So let's look at some new movies that take up two of these tropes. Lucy and Transcendence.


Hey, it's Johansson in a solo superheroish movie...but still not a Black Widow movie.

So she gets infused with some magic drug, and becomes super focused and agile. Okay. It makes you think she might be super cool spy type for the movie. Then it gets weirder.

She starts warping reality, hacking the Matrix, and discovers that Love really is a dirty word (Maybe not the last one.) ...And all because, we all only ever use 10% of our brains. Sigh. We actually use all of our brain. We may not look like it, but we are making full use of our noggins. We don't have secret super powers locked away, like were video game characters. It's so silly. I know it's a trope, but it's a trope that used to sell people on stupid ideas and products in the real world.

That is just not how our bodies work...

Anyway, while she has amazing new perceptions, an altered brain, and world altering powers, she's still focused on getting at the people who did it all to her. Think bigger.

But, hey, Morgan Freeman's there to mentor her along the way. That's requisite these days, right?

...Speaking of Morgan Freeman...


Johnny Depp gets uploaded onto the Internet.

Apparently, if you try and copy a person, it works fine. Imagine that, it's ALL there? Memories? Sure. But, psychology? And what about all those other different aspects that make up the mind? It would be a perfect replica?

Better yet, would it be you? Sure, why not? Shame on you for doubting it! Blasphemer!

But better, once you are Of The Internet, you get superpowers. You get to be superior, or better.

It's a movie that feels like a bad movie. It's a shame, much of this feels like it is an over long episode of The Outer Limits (the 90's version). The 60% of that show about people being afraid of technology, rightly or wrongly. It would be interesting if this movie looked at what makes one human or something else. What is gained or lost in "transcendence". It could be a fascinating topic.

But movie producers are a little leery of that stuff. More boom, less hmm.

But, hey, at least you get some fanatical Luddites as a counterpoint to the technology questions!

What? A Right Wing Hero Who Is Racist? *UPDATED*

I think you have the wrong flag up.
As I'm sure shocks us all, Cliven Bundy (I guess I've been calling him Clive.), of "Get Off My Lawn And Your Lawn To" fame, has shown off a new facet of his charm offensive. Racism.

Now this has stymied some of us. How could he be like this? He's seemed so informed and level headed up to now.

Would someone whose openly said:
  • He doesn't recognize the United States government as existing.
  • He wanted the local sheriff to disarm the Forest Service officers in the area, and then have those weapons handed to him.
...seem like a person that would spout idiotic racist patter?

Being serious, most of us aren't surprised. Another Right Wing hero tosses out casual confident racism. Somehow people who obsess over a past, where white people were king (Well, more kingly.), look back at how black people were treated, and see it as right and good. It is the sad outcome of their conservative philosophical process. Women back in the house. Blacks and Hispanics working in the back.

Conservatism has become defined by these regressive ideas. But the one lesson most conservative leaders learned is how to couch their horrible ideas in coded language, and pseudo intellectualism. (Clean Air Act, Academic Freedom, Trickle Down Economics, Kenyan)

And that is what is galling about Bundy, and others like Todd Akin and Phil Robertson. Bundy talks like the GOP's many failed candidates, going off on blacks, gays, or birth control.

But they all still share common thinking with the rest of the conservative movement. They are hostile to gay rights, to civil rights, and to reproductive rights. But it's all supposed to be coded. People like Paul Ryan work to hide it. They try and sell "urban" as an innocent and honest. It's really racist and disingenuous. People like Bundy screw up the strategy, by plainly speaking the bigotry and contempt.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Horror Of...Universal Monsters and Shock Theater

From Screen Gem catalog.
Following my look at Universal Monsters in general, I wanted to consider how these characters emerged. Sure, they had their premieres, and found fans. But what happen in the decades to follow, to help keep them in the public's mind? I wanted to look at where those creatures went in the 1950's. And the answer is...

Shock Theater! (or Theatre, if you like)

In 1957 Universal made the decision to release 52 of it's horror movies in a package called SHOCK! It was part of a deal made with Screen Gems. (They also sold packages of other genres.) The idea was to syndicate these movies, and share them on television.

It was an important moment, as it allowed these movies to be more easily accessed by a new generation of potential fans. Like the young kids that never got to see these movies the first time around. Also those that remember seeing these movies in a different time. It was a chance to be taken back to their youths.

Among this package of movies was Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, and The Mummy. Most of what would be called the Universal Monsters. (Obviously Creature from the Black Lagoon was still a too recent movie for them to offer up.) Also many of the sequels were also offered up. And other interesting films, like The Black Cat.

And then in 1958 a second batch of 20 movies were released. SON OF SHOCK. It included more of the Universal Monster sequels, including Bride of Frankenstein.

It all created quite a stir with TV viewers, and inspired new merchandise and new media.

Bundy Ranch: The Takers Come Home To Roost

The most patriotic anti-American patriot ever.
...I probably should have made that a cattle reference. Still, Clive Bundy doesn't make much of any sense either.

A rancher in Nevada, Bundy has taken it upon himself to skip out on paying grazing fees for his cattle over the past 20 years. These fees were being paid by his neighbors as needed, and by any other rancher in the country.

It's a simple enough idea. You want additional grass and scrub for your cattle. So you can make a deal with a neighbor, to allow your cattle on their land for awhile to eat. As part of the deal you may agree about how long they can stay, or you can pay for the use of the land.

It seems very friendly and simple. It seems rather capitalistic.

But not to Bundy. He seems to have decided that since the land is owned by the government, he can use it at will for whatever reasons he decides. And when he's asked to pay his fees, he refuses. And when he goes to court looses, he still refuses. And when he looses again in court, he refuses...You see how this is going.

He's a cheat. He currently owes around one million dollars. (Imagine how nicely you'd be treated if you refused to pay that amount of money to the government.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trailers in Short - Superheroes Are the New Black Edition

Here come the heroes! ...Well, it's a summer time thing now, isn't it? But as a fan of myth and comic books, it's a good thing. ...Well, it can be a good thing, when you get decent movies.

So let's see where Hercules, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Turtles, Spider-Man, and Batman take us.

Sadly, it took so long to get to this that I missed the opening of the new Captain America movie. So I offer this in recompense.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Trailers in Short - Animals Want To Eat Your Face Edition

Welcome to the world of animals. As a rule, animals are awesome. Tiny bugs building a megalopolis. Whales or Sharks herding prey. Birds navigating vast distances. Dogs giving up their derp face.

And then there are the movies. Forget all that stuff above. Animals. Want. To. Eat. Your. Face.

Big Ass Spiders! Zombeavers! Squirrels!

...And more, of course.

Trailers in Short - Horror Rises On the TeeVee

Isn't it time for some horror? It feels like that. So let's look at some upcoming shows to that mysterious medium of television. Some Victorian Penny Dreadful, angsty Salem, and...something a but lighter.

...Okay, it's Gravity Falls.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

National Library Week 2014

Through the 19th, we are celebrating National Library Day.

It's a chance to celebrate, acknowledge, and become aware of what libraries and library workers do for communities.

And I'm glad that we have this celebration of our libraries.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Horror Of...Universal Monsters *UPDATED*


Those words conjure potent images.

Going back a century the horror films coming out of Universal have set benchmarks. And up through the 1950's the creatures and figures at the center of these movies became cemented in the minds of movie goers and kids.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Saturday, April 05, 2014

First Contact Day is here again.

April 5th is First Contact Day. 

I know, Deanna Troi has called it Federation Day, and that may be an official name...

But Deanna was once a cake.

So that point is invalid...

On this day (in the fictional post nuclear war future), Zefram Cochrane launches the test ship, Phoenix, from Bozeman, Montana.

It was the first Earth ship capable of warp speed.

The test flight caught the attention of alien life that was passing the solar system, interested to see that humans had developed interstellar travel.

So they landed.

And as Star Trek lore remembers, were the Vulcans.

And Earth had it's first (official) contact with alien life.

And everything changed.

And The Adventure Continued, and Continues.

...Granted that leads to Insurrection. We don't talk about Insurrection.


Competitive Rivalry - Game of Development

It's another day with Buster and Jamie. Things have gotten competitive.


This weekend sees the return of the families that make the Bluths look like saints.


The Horror Of...Terror Train

Really?  Really?! You know, yesterday afternoon it was 70 degrees. 70! And how does that turn to...this...

Ha ha. Funny, Nature. Quite a prank!

But as I've already discussed, I am not much of a fan of pranking.

But, no, this is the time of japes and jokes. And of people who don't know when to stop or pull back. So let's take a trip back to the start of the 80's, to the dawn of a renaissance of a glut of slasher movies. Let's look at one of the early attempts to enter the fray of murderous mayhem, with a twist (we always need a twist). So let's take it on a train. Hey, every concept from Snakes On A Thing to Under Siege ends up there. And the slasher movies got this twist out of the way nice and early.

So let's see how it fares...Get it?

So grab your bag, take your motion sickness medicine, and let's see where the Terror Train arrives.

And be sure to check out it's sequel, Terror Replacement Bus Service.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Sword Brothers - Game of Development

This weekend, the family more troubled than the Bluths return, with a son that is just about done with the lot of them.

Game Of Thrones Season 4!