Root Beer Film Festival: Moonrise Kingdom

Oh, Moonrise Kingdom. I really, really wanted to like you, and I did like certain things about you (mostly Edward Norton), but you were so Wes Anderson. Maybe the most Wes Anderson-y, Wes Anderson film ever. You had an inventory, cartography, narration (Bob Balaban!), kids acting like adults, a play, Bill Murray, art, credits in cursive, and fireworks. And those are just the things I remember. Oh, here are a couple more: tight clothing and Jason Schwartzman, who may or may not have been playing a teenager.

I didn’t hate Moonrise Kingdom, in fact I kind of want it to be the start of a trilogy where we follow the lives of Sam and Suzy, but for me it didn’t add anything new to Anderson’s resume. We’ve seen him do this type of film so many times that we kind of know what to expect when the film starts. It’ll be quirky, somewhat depressing, and filled with really great performances by it’s actors. That’s not really a terrible thing to create every time out, and I completely understand why Anderson continues to do it, but I guess it might be the reason I waited to see this one, and am in no rush to see his latest releases anymore.

A terrible thought just popped in my head: Wes Anderson is Adam Sandler for the NPR listener. Man, that is awful, but they make the same movie every time. Anderson gets the critical acclaim while Sandler movies somehow make $200 million. I’m sure we could all think of hundreds of examples that could fit there, but Sandler was the first one I thought of, it might be the lingering effects of the pink eye.

LETTERS
Thanks to all my imaginary friends who sent me questions about the Root Beer Film Festival. I thought I would read a couple.

Why root beer? It’s gross. – Steve from Kansas City
Thanks for the note, Steve. Shut up. You’re gross.

How did you pick the movies you’re going to watch? – Alex from Wixom
First, it had to be something I’ve never seen all of (For example, The Stuff was played continuously on local TV, but edited). Second, it had to be available. I didn’t want to buy any DVD’s. In fact, outside of the two movies I might see in the theatre all of the movies on the list were either available on Netflix, Hulu or at my local library.

Don’t forget to water the grass seed. – Barb from Pinckney
Not sure what this has to do with the festival, but thanks mom.

Movies watched: 1 (Moonrise Kingdom)
Root Beers consumed: 1 (Stewart’s)

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Root Beer Film Festival

My wife will be camping this weekend, and my son will be with my parents. Which means I will have the house to myself for about 36 hours. So what will I be doing with this 36 hours of glorious freedom? Will I be throwing a party that will eventually involve the police saying something like, “Aren’t you a little too old for this?” No. I will be watching a ton of movies, and drinking a ton of root beer.

I fully planned on having some people over at least one night, but for the past week I’ve been fighting pink eye. This has led to a fever, a sore throat, gunky icky eyes, and even now while I recover I sound like I could fill-in as host of your favorite local NPR jazz show. I have come to face the fact that I am an adult with a job, a family, and bills…so many bills. Which means that instead of being stupid and not recovering I will sit on the couch, watch movies and drink root beer.

Here are the movies I hope to watch this weekend:

The Hit (1984)
Starring: Terence Stamp, John Hurt and Tim Roth
Director: Stephen Frears

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Quirkiness
Director: Wes Anderson

The Wrestler (2008)
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Gentlemen Broncos (2009)
Starring: Michael Argarano and Jemaine Clement
Director: Jared Hess

A Band Called Death (2012)
Starring: Death (band), Detroit
Directors: Mark Covino and Jeff Howlett

Bronson (2008)
Starring: Tom Hardy, Matt King and James Lance
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

The Monkey Hu$tle (1976)
Starring: Yaphet Kotto, Rudy Ray Moore and Rosalind Cash
Director: Arthur Marks

Stander (2003)
Starring: Thomas Jane, Dexter Fletcher and David O’Hara
Director: Bronwen Hughes

The Stuff (1985)
Starring: Michael Moriarty, Paul Sorvino and Danny Aiello
Director: Larry Cohen

Louie Bluie (1984)
Starring: Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong
Director: Terry Zwigoff

The Death of Andy Kaufman
(2008)
Starring: Andy Kaufman
Director: Christopher Maloney

The Steel Helmet (1951)
Starring: Gene Evans, Robert Hutton and Steve Brodie
Director: Samuel Fuller

X-Men: Days of Future Past
(2014)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender
Director: Bryan Singer

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johannson, and Samuel L. Jackson
Directors: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

I’ll be posting updates and “reviews” here. You can also follow me @Klumpp13

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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Needs Firepower

marvels-agents-of-shieldMarvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is now five episodes old, and the jury is still out on whether the show will last past its first season. ABC was confident enough to order 22 episodes, but ratings have dipped from about 12 million viewers for the pilot episode to just over seven million for last week’s episode, “Girl in the Flower Dress.” Honestly, the first five episodes have left a bit to be desired, but it does not mean that we should give up on Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his group of agents (plus one mysterious hacker).

There are numerous reasons that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not working from production values to unlikable characters, but the reason that five million people decided to stop watching this show is simple…star power. The average fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was expecting to see Iron Man or Captain America to occasionally show up on board the team’s headquarters/Firefly-esque plane “The Bus.” The likelihood of that actually happening is quite slim, and outside of the cameos from Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) I would be surprised if any of the big guns from the MCU appear on the small screen.

Of course, this does not mean we should have a Marvel show completely devoid of superheroes and supervillains because this show is supposed to take place in a world with both walking around. There are literally thousands of Marvel characters that could appear on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. without ruining the character on a lesser-known actor or even for the films. Here are five characters, both good and bad, who could help this show broaden its appeal:

untitledDUM DUM DUGAN
Background: Dugan (Neil McDonough) appeared in Captain America:The First Avenger and the recent short Agent Carter. With the rumors of a possible show based on the exploits of Agent Carter, Dugan could be a possible bridge to the next show produced by Marvel Television.

Episode Idea: Dugan has been appearing alongside Nick Fury in the comic books first as a member of The Howling Commandos, and then an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. for the past 50 years, and like his eye-patch wearing counterpart has not aged much over those five decades. In the MCU, it would seem that an older Dugan would have to appear on S.H.I.E.L.D., maybe as an experienced consultant to the organization.

3163695-secretavengers2658TASKMASTER
Background: Taskmaster has teetered the thin line between good guy and bad guy since he was introduced as an enemy of The Avengers in 1980. In recent years he has trained S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and has assembled alongside his former foes in battle.

Episode Idea: Introducing Taskmaster as an enemy with ties to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s training program, maybe he trained Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), might add a bit of intrigue to the supposedly shadowy S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel_HerculesHERCULES
Background: If an Asgardian is not going to make an appearance how about an Olympian? Hercules was introduced in the mid-1960’s, and has been a fixture within the Marvel Universe since.

Episode Idea: In an episode reminiscent of goofy The X-Files episodes like, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” the team stumbles upon a man calling himself Hercules. Is he truly a god, or is he crazy? Find out this Tuesday at 8pm.

Damage-Control-Vol.-1-1-1989-1DAMAGE CONTROL
Background: Ever wonder who cleans up after the destruction caused during a super battle? Damage Control is the best in the business, and has cleaned up after superheroes since 1989.

Episode Idea: While Damage Control is attempting to clean up a super battle, a “gifted” stands in their way. Agent Coulson and his team are sent to help Damage Control finish the clean-up, and find the new supervillain.

destroyertimelyDESTROYER
Background: Destroyer aka Keen Marlow has been appearing in comics since 1941, and is another recipient of the “super soldier serum” given to Steve Rogers. He has fought alongside Captain America and has been a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.

Episode Idea: When “The Calvary” does not have enough firepower to extract the team from a bad situation, Agent May decides it is time to call in Destroyer.

Will any of these appearances actually happen? Probably not…unless Joss Whedon decides to stumble upon this blog, or Skye decides to hack my computer. Until then I’ll keep hoping that the show stops creating characters, and starts using characters already available in the Marvel Universe.

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Saturday Night Live Dream Cast

saturday-night-live-logo

Yesterday, Grantland writer Andy Greenwald answered a question in his mailbag column about Saturday Night Live. Wade B. asked Greenwald, “Who would be your All Time SNL cast including head writer? Considering that if you include Belushi his drug problems come with him, Eddie Murphy would have to work with Lorne Michaels, and Chevy Chase is a asshole?”

Greenwald took Wade’s restrictions into consideration, based his cast size of seven on the original cast from 1975 (guess he forgot about George Coe who lasted three episodes), and made his dream cast: Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Phil Hartman, Bill Hader, and Amy Poehler with Tina Fey as head writer. He would also have Fey anchoring the Weekend Update desk. It is a strong cast, and it got me thinking about my dream SNL cast.

I have written on this blog about SNL before. It is my favorite television show of all-time, and I have watched it almost religiously for 23 years. I watched Sinead O’Connor rip up a picture of Pope John Paul II, saw Chris Farley’s ass (probably more than once), and heard Jenny Slate drop an f-bomb during her first sketch. I have also (thanks to Comedy Central and Netflix) watched episodes from the 1970’s and 80’s, so I feel like I can put together a pretty good cast.

Greenwald had four locks on his cast: Ferrell, Wiig, Murray and Murphy. I only have two locks: Ferrell and Hartman. These two are my locks not just because I consider them the best cast members since I started watching in 1990, but also because their fellow cast members talk about them making everyone else in the cast better. These guys are like the Michael Jordan and Peyton Manning of SNL. You can almost guarantee a laugh if either Ferrell or Hartman appear in a sketch whether it’s through their delivery, facial expressions, or movements.

Murphy would be my next cast member. Without Eddie Murphy in the 1980’s SNL might have been cancelled. The show was awful, ratings were down, and Lorne Michaels left due to “exhaustion.” It was not a good time for the show. Could Michaels and Murphy get along? Murphy’s sketches were funny from Gumby to Buckwheat to James Brown, and Michaels knows that his show needs to be funny for people to watch. It also needs an edge, and Murphy would bring that as well.

Greenwald’s female lock, Wiig, is not on my dream cast. I know, blasphemy. If this cast could include 10 members Wiig would make it, but my one concern about Wiig is versatility. I always felt that Wiig was playing a slightly different version of the same character. I do not dislike Wiig, but if you are limiting me to seven cast members, she does not break into that seven. To fill this fourth spot I am going with Poehler. As a fan of Upright Citizen’s Brigade I knew of Poehler before she joined the cast in 2001 (her first episode was the season premiere which aired 18 days after 9/11), and over her eight seasons on the show she became, in my opinion, the greatest female cast member in the history of SNL. Poehler would also be my lone Weekend Update anchor.

Murray also makes my list, but I really wondered if it was because of his post-SNL work, and not so much for his time on the show. I went back, and watched some sketches, and realized that Murray is a really, really great sketch comedian. With all the craziness that John Belushi or Dan Akyroyd brought, or the smugness of Chevy Chase, Murray was the guy next door. A Midwestern sensibility really shines through Murray, and maybe because I am from Michigan it speaks to me more than Belushi, Akyroyd and Chase. On this cast, Murray would be the Bobby Moynihan or Chris Parnell. Someone who is solid everytime they appear, maybe a little under the radar, but they seem to be completely fine with that.

While it has not always been the case, over the last 30 years the SNL cast always seemed to include a great impressionist. Hader and Darrell Hammond held down this role over the past 18 seasons, but neither make my cast. If you give me the eighth “George Coe” spot I would fill it with Hader, but for my impressionist I am going with Dana Carvey. From 1986-1993, Carvey brought to life George H. W. Bush, Casey Kasem, Ross Perot, Woody Allen, and Paul McCartney. His impressions may not have the polish of Hader’s, but this is a comedy show, so the polish does not necessarily need to be there. Carvey also has a nice repertoire of “original” characters that includes; Lyle the Effeminate Heterosexual, Grumpy Old Man, and his most famous character, Garth Algar. Unfortunately, Mike Myers does not make my cast, so Garth would most likely be shelved.

My final pick for my dream cast is Gilda Radner. Of all the original cast members, Radner is my favorite. Her portrayals of Lisa the nerd, Roseanne Roseannadanna, and Baba Wawa were always spot-on and funny. Radner projected a sweetness and innocence during her performances on SNL that is needed at times, and anyone who can hold their own with Belushi, Akyroyd and Murray is a much needed addition with the likes of Ferrell and Murphy on the cast.

The first head writer for SNL was Michael O’Donoghue, and he would be a solid pick if he didn’t seem to have been slightly insane. He refused to write for The Muppets when they appeared on the show, scared Catherine O’Hara so much she quit before she ever appeared, and essentially pissed everyone off. I also thought about Fey, Seth Meyers, or even Adam McKay, but my pick for head writer is Jim Downey. Downey joined SNL as a writer in 1976, and was the head writer from 1986 to 1995. I consider this stretch to be the greatest in SNL history, and the writing is as much a part of it as the cast. Writers like Robert Smigel, Conan O’Brien, Jack Handey and Bob Odenkirk were all present during this time. Fey might bring the double threat of head writer and Weekend Update anchor, but Downey’s crew wrote some of the greatest sketches ever. Downey may not be the sexy pick, but the man who stood with Norm MacDonald after he was fired is the man I want in the writer’s room.

So there they are: Will Ferrell, Phil Hartman, Eddie Murphy, Amy Poehler, Bill Murray, Dana Carvey, Gilda Radner and Jim Downey as head writer with Bill Hader in the “George Coe” spot. John Belushi and Chris Farley have too many issues for me to consider with the restrictions given by Wade, Kristen Wiig is in the top 10, and somewhere, someone has put Jeff Richards on their list.

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The Mistake M&M

Every once in awhile something happens that in the global scale of everything (i.e. wars, famine, ice caps melting, baseball) is inconsequential, but amazing to you. Over the weekend I was running errands with my toddler, and bought a bag of peanut M&M’s. I had been feeling pretty rundown and depressed for the past week, which usually leads to me not eating, trying to live off of coffee and candy, and moping like a teenage who isn’t allowed to play video games. Essentially I suck to be around. So I bought these M&M’s because they would get me through the morning until my son wanted to eat, and then I would also eat. As I am eating my M&M’s I get one that is completely full of chocolate with no peanut, and it was amazing. For some reason that little extra bit of chocolate was like the end of all wars to my brain. I know I could just buy regular M&M’s, or just some chocolate but the fact that I was expecting a peanut and there wasn’t one was the greatest thing to happen in days to me. It was great because I wasn’t expecting it, so naturally I ate the rest of the bag hoping, praying that I would get one more M&M full of chocolate…but it didn’t happen. I only got that one, beautiful, majestic M&M.

I have been thinking about that lone M&M for a couple of days now. Is my life really all that bad that an out of place M&M makes the clouds open, and the sun shine brighter? No. Not at all. That one M&M was just what I needed at that time. My life is filled with great things, but sometimes I forget about them, and focus on the things that really don’t matter (money, material objects, baseball) to my happiness. That solitary M&M was amazing because it jumpstarted my brain, and knocked me out of a funk. It was what I needed as I was driving home from Target, my son now asleep, alone with my thoughts. Before the M&M I was thinking about bills and bank accounts, but after I was thinking about finding another full of chocolate M&M, and what we would eat for lunch (macaroni and cheese).

It sounds stupid, but that M&M broke my train of thought. We all have things that help us bust through the fog, and see the bigger picture. Movies, music, books, and sports are all great distractions that can help us re-focus and see things differently. For me on that Saturday morning all it took was a tiny piece of incorrect candy. Maybe something as insignificant as a piece of candy will do that for you as well, or maybe I’m just crazy.

The Anniversary of A Joke

In October of 2003 I ventured into Detroit to see a concert. A friend from work, Rachel, asked me to ride along to the Majestic Theater not because I was also a fan of The Long Winters or Death Cab for Cutie, but because she did not want to go to Detroit alone. To prep for this concert Rachel made me mix CD’s of her favorite songs by the two bands, and probably offered to buy me beer. I listened to those CD’s probably once or twice before the show, but I was not ready for what was going to happen once the first band strolled onto the stage.

As John Roderick and the rest of The Long Winters started into their set opener, “Carparts”, Rachel started singing along…and dancing. Not swaying to the music dancing, but full-on shaking her ass dancing. To this point my concert-going experiences in Detroit were mostly a crowd of a thousand or so folks, bopping their heads to the music probably with their arms crossed. Almost a “we’re from Detroit asshole, we gave you Iggy Pop” pose. So seeing my friend dancing her heart out through the night was an odd experience. An experience I would not have witnessed if Rachel did not forgive me earlier in the year for a practical joke.

About five months before that show The Long Winters released their second album, When I Pretend to Fall. At the time I was working in the music department of a Borders store in Ann Arbor. One of my jobs was to prepare new releases every Monday night, and shelve them on Tuesday. It was a pretty cool gig. I got to see all the releases before-hand, and occasionally take one home to listen to before it was released. Before that release day, Rachel had asked me to set aside the one copy of When I Pretend to Fall that we would be receiving, and I told her I would.

On Tuesday morning a co-worker named Joe was going through the CD’s, and noticed The Long Winters on hold for Rachel. Joe once tried to drink a couple quarts of Egg Nog during his lunch, and ended up puking up the nog and his lunch before he could finish the quarts. He was always looking for a laugh, so he thought it would be funny to buy Rachel’s CD, and he did. He bought the only copy of When I Pretend to Fall we had in the building. Now I could have stopped him, but I also thought it would be pretty funny, and I knew that Joe did not care about The Long Winters at all so the CD would still end up with Rachel.

When Rachel came into the store we told her that someone had bought the CD which made her pretty upset. Not helping matters was Joe revealing that he had bought the CD (even producing the receipt), that he could not wait to listen to it, and that The Long Winters were the greatest band in the world. Of course, this was all done with the sarcasm and wit of a guy who puked up a bunch of Egg Nog once. I am not sure Joe had even heard of The Long Winters until that Tuesday morning, but he did a pretty decent job of pissing Rachel off. She stormed out, went to another store, and bought her own copy. We shelved our copy after Joe returned it.

I was reminded of that story because Roderick tweeted on Monday that it was the tenth anniversary of the release of When I Pretend to Fall making it the tenth anniversary of that practical joke. I am not sure how long after that day Rachel was mad at us, but she did eventually forgive us. It was probably done at some bar over too many drinks because I drank a bit too much 10 years ago. This forgiveness eventually led to me ending up in the Majestic Theater with dancing Rachel. I saw her dance two more times at concerts with The Long Winters over the next year, and eventually became a pretty big fan of the band myself.

Because of the anniversary I listened to When I Pretend to Fall for the first time in ages. I think it still holds up pretty well, but I am a sucker for a collection of good pop songs. It also made me think about Joe and Rachel, two people I have not spoken to in a very long time. They both quit Borders long before I did, and moved on. One of my many faults is that I am terrible at staying in touch with people I rarely see. It does not mean that I forget about them, or the significance they have on my life, but it means they become a story for me to retell. On this blog to no one, instead of over drinks in a bar with my friends.

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I Quit Grad School, Now What?

You know that feeling when you feel like a failure, but you’re not really a failure? That’s how I have been feeling for the past two months.  

In August I decided to return to school and attempt to earn a master’s degree in sports administration at Wayne State. It seemed doable even with a full-time job, and a family. It also seemed like a logical step since my passion has been sports, and I’ve never been able to crack the job market. 

Around early October I realized what a colossal blunder I had made. The entire family was stressed out to the max, my two-year old was not falling asleep before 10pm, and l was slacking at both work and school.

I missed assignments, handed in hastily written papers, and zoned out during class to the point where I would miss segments of lectures. It was rough, and while my grasp of sports was serving as a crutch and keeping my head above water I realized something needed to change. My hope was that this was just first semester issues that I needed to solve, but I also needed to keep my family happy and keep my job that pays the bills.

So I decided that I would stop. I tried, it did not work, and it was over. I spoke with my professor (she taught both classes I was taking), and let her know how I was feeling. She was understanding, and tried her best to keep me with the program, but it just didn’t seem plausible anymore. We spoke about what my sports interests were, if I should transfer to Eastern (I actually was accepted and thought about it), and while she thought I would enjoy the program if I stayed, she understood.

That was it. After two classes I was done. Now what do I do?

Well, thankfully I have a decent job. I was not going back to school to help me find a job, I was going back to find a job more suited to me. While it may not be my ideal job, it has allowed myself and my family to live without worrying about paying the bills. I like my co-workers, the hours, and the flexibility. There are no questions about taking time off. Get your job done, and there will be very few questions. I like it, but I also don’t like it.

When I was in the third grade I wrote an essay, and I said that I wanted to be a sports commentator, own a condo, and drive a Lamborghini. I can live without the last two, but the desire to work in sports is still burning inside me. It pulls on me daily, but I am currently at a loss for what I should do about it.

I starting writing a sports blog again for the first time in a couple years. One of the topics I discussed with my professor at Wayne State was that my desires in sports were more sociological in nature. The aspects of sports that intrigue me the most are not box scores or highlights they are subjects like the decline of African-Americans playing baseball, Native American nicknames, publicly funded stadiums, and other topics that the average fan could care less about as long as their team is winning.

The Timid Souls is me ranting about some of these things because I do not have that avenue to vent anymore. My wife does not want to hear me talk about another group of football players who raped someone, and will get off with a slap on the wrist, but maybe someone surfing the ‘net does. The blog is a form of therapy, but it does not completely relieve me of the desire to be a part of the action.

I will figure it out soon, but right now I am fighting with myself. I realize that I am doing OK, and that I am currently in a pretty decent situation. I have a great family, and a good support system. There’s nothing physically wrong with me or my family. Things are good. They really are, I just need to realize that.

Remember When Marvel Movies Sucked?

The Avengers has made almost $1.4 billion dollars since it was released in early May. That is a lot of comic books, even with today’s $2.99-plus cover price. Marvel Comics has been on a roll as of late with its movie adaptations even with the occassional Ghost Rider or Punisher dreck included. The strange this is that it did not used to be this way. 

Twenty years ago Marvel could not figure out how to break into the movie arena. Marvel’s arch-rival, DC Comics, had a pretty successful run of their own from the late-1970’s to mid-1990’s, but once fans tired of Superman and Batman the DC movie machine fizzled, and (minus the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy) has never regained its footing. After the release of Batman Begins in 2005 DC looked to be back in the game, but releases like Superman Returns, Watchmen, Jonah Hex and Green Lantern were disappointing at the box office, and left some fans scratching their heads. 

Marvel understands this disappointment. Before the release of Blade in 1998, the comic book giant did not have a single successful movie on its resume. Outside of The Incredible Hulk television series, and animated shows like X-Men, the company had little success at all in Hollywood.  How sad was Marvel movie making before Wesley Snipes started killing vampires? Let’s take a look:

Howard the Duck (1986)

Marvel had produced several made for TV movies before 1986, but Howard the Duck was their return to the big screen. In a word this movie is weird. If I had one more word I would add…terrible. For some reason George Lucas felt the need to produce this movie, and to make it slightly PG-13. Howard the Duck was a cigar-smoking, wise-cracking fixture of the Marvel Universe throughout the 1970’s, but he had at-best a cult following, making the need for a Howard the Duck movie all that stranger. 

The film was universally panned and was a box-office bomb. Over the course of time it has become a cult film, and was released on DVD in 2009. Somehow the movie actually made back the $37 million budget during its initial release, but only by $1 million. 

The Punisher (1989)

This Punisher adaptation might be the best one of the three produced, but that does not mean it is any good. The Punisher would be a great character if he actually cared about anything other than revenge, shooting people, and blowing shit up. This is also the problem with the Punisher movies there is nothing to care about. Some people like that, a lot of people do not. In all fairness, I really liked dumb action movies when I was a kid.

Somehow the producers roped Louis Gossett Jr. into appearing in this movie, but Gossett was in the middle of his 1980’s action film era so that does make sense. Dolph Lundgren is actually believable as Frank Castle, but mostly because Castle rarely speaks, and Lundgren is better when he does not speak. The biggest reason to not like this adaptation is for the lack of a skull on Punisher’s shirt.

Captain America (1990)

This one actually got a lot of things right, but it was also horrible. Almost unwatchable. It tested so poorly in advance screenings that the producers, 21st Century Film Corporation, shelved it, and it was released on video in 1992. It is nice that they tried to stay true to the original Cap costume, and even the Red Skull looks OK.

Fun fact about this movie, Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon are both in the cast. If I need to tell you who they are you must not watch movies on Christmas. 

The Fantastic Four (1994)

When I was 16 or 17 this movie appeared on the shelf behind the counter of the comic shop I frequented. They wanted $20 for it, and after weeks of going back and forth on it I decided to buy it. It was AWFUL. I have no idea where that VHS is now, and I am totally fine with that. 

Oh, also this movie was produced by Roger Corman. ‘Nuff said. 

Marvel Comics released two made-for-TV movies in the mid-1990’s both of which appeared on FOX. Generation X released in 1996 was an adapation of Marvel’s newest teen mutant team, and in 1998 an adaptation of Nick Fury starring every German’s favorite lifeguard:

Hopefully you all made it through this recap in one piece, and possibly a bit of nostalgia crept in as well. It was not all that long ago when filmmakers had to find someone like Lou Ferrigno to be the Hulk instead of just making the Hulk look like Mark Ruffalo with a computer. 

Thank You Adam Yauch

It has been almost two weeks since Adam “MCA” Yauch passed away after a two-year battle with cancer. During those two weeks I have read, watched, and listened to countless tributes. It was during one of these tributes that I finally realized that a larger piece, than I originally thought, was gone from my past. 

I first heard “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” like most kids my age on MTV in 1987. An older cousin of mine had the cassette of Licensed to ILL, and I remember him playing it on this huge silver boom box most of that summer. The Beastie Boys were brash, young, and stupid, the perfect combination for a 9 year-old boy. I might not have understood everything they were rapping about, but I liked it. 

The story could have ended right there. As I grew up I remember seeing the videos for “Hey Ladies,” and “So Whatcha Want,” but I totally missed the albums Paul’s Boutique and Check Your Head. I was too far into my grunge phase to let anything without sludgy guitars, and flannel into my CD collection. 

Then “Sabotage” happened. It was 1994. Kurt Cobain was dead, and I was slowly emerging from my Seattle-fueled haze. “Sabotage” was the coolest video I had ever seen. It was funny, and the music was killer. It fit perfectly into my post-grunge listening that included Beck and Pavement. I either ordered Ill Communication from Columbia House, or bought it at the local pharmacy that had a case full of music at the front. It also doubled as my comic book shop. It was a pretty awesome pharmacy. 

After I picked up Ill Communication it stayed in my CD (I will admit I might have had the cassette) player for weeks. I went Beastie Boys crazy. I bought t-shirts, copies of Grand Royal magazine (I still have a GR magnet on my fridge), I started getting into Spike Jonze videos, and I doubled back and bought the albums that I did not have. I also started to listen to what the three guys in the band were saying about the world. 

I will admit that at 16 I was not the most political guy at Pinckney High School. We once had a walk-out over privitization of the school, and I stayed at my desk because I did not actually care. I did not even see it as a reason to get out of class. I was not the brightest guy at 16. 

In fact, it took me a few years to really grasp the message that Beastie Boys and Rage Against the Machine were throwing out there. It also took some changes in friends, and growing up to help the process along. At the time I did not realize that Yauch, Adam “Adrock” Horovitz, and Mike “Mike D” Diamond had done the same thing. They were naive young rappers from New York City, and over the course of seven or so years they grew up, and realized they could help make a difference in the world. 

Now I did not become a militant protestor. I am still kind of shy about my political beliefs, and how I express them. Most of my friends know me as a liberal guy who keeps himself abreast with the goings on of the world. I have no issues with having a Barack Obama sticker on my car, but there are other issues I support quietly with my vote, and through other means.

I know that was a struggle for groups like Beastie Boys, RATM, and Pearl Jam. They had legions of fans, but most of them were (and stilll are) more interested in music than the message. It is still a struggle for me as I try to be the best human being I can while still shopping at Target.  

I am not sure Adam Yauch ever realized the impact he had on a large number of Beastie Boys fans. How he helped change their worldview, and made them realize that we are a part of a world community not just an American community. Some of those fans are probably sitting on Wall Street, or Capitol Hill voicing their opinions loudly. Some might be inside Capitol Hill, or the United Nations working on improving the world. And at least one is sitting in Ypsilanti, Michigan working to make sure his sleeping son becomes a smart, open-minded, human being that loves the world. 

 

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My Son Will Not Play Football

One of the first agreements my wife, and I had about our son before he was born was that we would not push him into doing anything he did not want to do. We also would not discourage him from doing things he wanted to do. Essentially we were going to see how it played out. If he wanted to play basketball, bang the drums, write poetry, or travel South America we were not going to discourage it.

Unfortunately, I think my wife, and I are going to have to break that rule. Our son will never play football or hockey.

Yesterday, former NFL linebacker Junior Seau reportedly shot himself in the chest, and died. He is the eighth member of the 1994 San Diego Chargers to die, and another in a growing list of ex-football and hockey players to commit suicide. The leading candidate for the cause of this issue is traumatic brain injury. An injury occured while playing a sport.

My son is 20 months old. I have no idea if he is even going to be interested in playing football, or hockey. I also understand that the likelihood of him playing either sport at a professional (or even collegiate) level is astronomical. The NCAA estimates that the probability of my son playing hockey at the professional level is .32%, and football a measly .08%.

You may say that I am overreacting. That the highest level my son will probably play these sports is high school, and he will be done when he is 18 years old. Sadly, newer studies are showing that these brain injuries are occuring in high school athletes, and even earlier. The speed of the game is slower, but the continual slamming of heads together is still there. Add to the fact that pee-wee football, and high school football have lower tech equipment, and fewer trained professionals watching over the action, and you have created a perfect storm for brain injuries in kids.

Things could change. The NFL and NHL could work toward providing better equipment, and training to the lower levels of their respective games, and rule changes could create safer leagues. The truth is that both leagues come up short when dealing with concussions, and continually fail to provide care for their players, especially after retirement, and during the off-season. Who can blame them? Both leagues are multi-billion dollar industries, and scandals are bad for business.The problem is that player suicides become front page news, not just sports page news, when they are happening at an alarming rate. These leagues will need to deal with it at some point.

I suppose you could argue that my son will have some sort of issue in whichever field he decides to enter. He could be a depressed poet living in a studio apartment dreaming of becoming the next e.e. cummings, or the alcoholic drummer for a crappy Coldplay cover band called The Scientists, or he could be kidnapped while hanging out in Rio. Those things could all happen, I am not denying that, but if he plays football or hockey he is almost assured of suffering from head injuries. Injuries that over time become neurodegenerative diseases, and in some cases lead to suicide.

Maybe I am overreacting, but is it not my job to keep my child safe? In fact, I am sure it is my number one job, and if keeping him off a football field, or hockey rink, ensures he is around when he is in his forties then I am OK with a bit of overreacting.

 

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