Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I see you MCU...

Ramblings Post #305
Ever realize you forgot to do something. Like eat. Or wash your clothes. Or take your ass to the comic book store. And then, out of nowhere something reminds you, like suddenly discovering you have no clean underwear. I watched the trailer for the next Captain America movie, realized I still haven seen the second Avengers movie - my cheap ass - and wondered just when I would catch up with popular America. Um, what is the Nae-Nae?

I might be the only person in the country not impressed by the MCU's Civil War trailer, other than those shots of the Black Panther which were wicked cool.

T'Challa v. The Winter Soldier
Maybe it's because I can already see from the trailer that in this film, as in the Winter Solider, the titular character comes off like a self righteous ass who believes in tearing something down rather than fixing it and loyalty over the law. I realize that a film is a limited medium for this type of epic storytelling, so a lot gets glossed over and simplified, but I'm of the opinion the writers went a little too far with this one. Sure SHIELD had been corrupted, but it still served a purpose, and history has repeatedly taught us that single mindedness is not a good thing. Maybe there is no Middle East in the MCU? Further, this Captain America is the living embodiment of "friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies." Him trying to help his buddy as opposed to bringing him in? It's that scene from The Town, only with costumes and superpowers.

But then I've never really been a great fan of the films. The simplification I mentioned is one big reason, but also important is that after 20 minutes of screen time between action scenes the the heroes are just way too quick to snatch their masks right back off, as though they get paid by how many minutes their actual faces appear on screen. My opinion has been, is now, and will be that if they don't want to wear the mask of the hero they portray, then maybe we get someone else to play the character. They are actors and wearing the damn mask is what the damn role calls for. You don't want to do it, then don't take the role. Yeesh.

I think the MCU films all need less characters and more story. Too many characters mean no real chance to explore the core group. I well aware that the Avengers films are big set pieces, but "single" character films should have been designed to explore that individual character, what drives them, the small nuances of who they are. But instead of giving the actors a real chance to flesh out the characters, some of whom have hundreds of issues of backstory they could work with, they feel just as crowded as the group picture, all explosions and quick cuts. Civil War seems to double as Avengers 2.5 or something. Which again, in my humble opinion, weakens the whole MCU.

Since I'm commenting, I also think that after the stylish period piece adventures of Agent Carter that its weird that the MCU's next female hero (Netflix's Jessica Jones) focuses on a heroine who is in part recovering from sexual assault. I know it's a direct take from the original source, but still it's not like they haven't played fast and loose with the rules before. Wasn't Nick Fury white? Is there no iteration of her story where she couldn't maybe just save the world? While nicely unconventionally gritty, Jessica Jones seems less like a superhero story where the hero just happens to be a woman and more like a lifetime mini-series where the victim just happens to have super powers. I would have chosen something more along the lines of Nightwing Restorations, which would have provided a black female and an Asian female lead. To me something like that would lend itself better to the serialized nature of television, and provide a broader creative base to work from while still covering the same ground. Of course it maybe that I'm a little miffed that in JJ they have future Avenger Luke Cage as just a bartender, although I hear he's next in line for series.

Hey, since I'm here, Luke, hit me with some of the flavored vodka. No, I'm kidding. Who drinks that? 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wait, she lost?

Ramblings Post #304
There are Champions, and then there are champions. A lot of the greats are crowned by the media.  Full Disclosure, I hate Tom Brady and the Patriots, cheaters all. I measure the greatness of the ages by the caliber of whom they compete against: Magic vs. Bird, Ali vs. Frazier, the 1990-94 Buffalo Bills vs the entire NFC East. Greatness in the abstract has never impressed me. All of sport knows that "to be the man you gotta beat the man." But what if there is no man to beat, or in this case, no woman? Well then you're just practicing. Then you're just wasting time.

Listening to the build up I got the impression that they'd have to carry a crying Holly Holm to the ring kicking and screaming like a human sacrifice, then scoop her up broken after her encounter with the Tasmanian Devil incarnate, Rhonda Rousey. One person joked they didn't want to pay for the fight, a twenty second .gif would show the whole thing later.

We found this not to be the case.   

I never was a Rhonda Rousey fan. There I said it. Something always felt off about her. Not because she was a woman fighter, that registers as an "eh" with me. I used to watch wrestling back in the day and the Fabulous Moolah was no joke I can assure you. Or that she came off as arrogant, after all lots of fighters are arrogant. You kind of have to be more than a little arrogant to want to climb in the ring and risk getting beaten up regularly. No, I didn't like her because she didn't look like she enjoyed it. She looked mad all the time for some reason, even after the press started playing her up. You get played up not just as the best in the sport or a once in a lifetime talent, but possibly the best that ever will be and you continue to look like someone stole your lunch? And not that ham and cheese sandwich with potato chips lunch either, I'm talking the lasagna leftover with the garlic rolls and a piece of cake lunch kind of angry.

And her supporters, currently in denial, need to own up and admit that the loss exposed her fighting style as extremely limited. She had Plan A - Be Rhonda Rousey. True it has served her well when she was facing fighters who were scared to step into the ring with her. But when that didn't work, when the other fighter was able to keep her distance and tag from the outside like the boxer that she was instead of the judo victim Rousey was used to facing, this "great talent" apparently had no Plan B. Great fighters, no, pretty much all athletes in every sport know they have to adjust to fit the circumstances. If the other team is shooting three pointers like layups, you chase them off the perimeter. When the offensive line can't stop penetration, you run screens or change your protection package. Ali stood in the corner at the end of the first round of the Rumble in the Jungle and redesigned his whole game plan when he realized he'd underestimated Foreman. After the first few jabs Rousey just kept trying to be Rousey. Why didn't she have another strategy? Oh, right. MMA. My bad.   

And by the way it's not the losing that will be the hardest. It's the complete and utter dominance that Holm was able inflict while doing it. Had Rousey lost a decision, I could see using that to build on for the future rematch. But getting man, um, woman-handled around the octagon and ending up wrecked, knocked out on the mat bloody while your opponent looks like she might have just finished a grueling spin class? Especially after all the social media shit talk? Um, she might want to take minute. My thinking is that if the "Rowdy" one can't come up with another fight strategy, if she can't adapt, she might just want to consider her other life options. I heard she's filming a movie, so she might want to stick with that. The prospect for the rematch doesn't bode well for her right this second, considering the thoroughness of her ineffectiveness in this first fight.

Will she return much like Ali and take back what she has proclaimed as hers? Now we get to the nitty damn gritty.

Barkeep. I need a Gentleman Jack and Mountain Dew. No seriously. You didn't know the Dew was actually invented to be drunk with whiskey? Like specifically. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Opening a Pandora's Box

This is a political post.

I'm not sure what time the President of the University of Missouri resigned, but I can assure you that fifteen minutes after the announcement that at every university with a sizable athletic program that every campus activist, at least those that already weren't at the athletic dorms because setup looked promising, was headed that way. Every single we will overcome, we must protest, we need a safe space, we need more of program X, the university needs to divest, the the cafeteria is serving green jello and that's the color of money and I am triggered crusader one and all. And you thought the jocks beat out the nerds before? Man, talk about making someone the big man on campus.

I once tried to explain that this is why the President doesn't do everything he's legally allowed to by executive order. All it takes is one, and suddenly you have to have brought enough for everybody. And while this issue may be understandable if not fully justified, the next one may be controversial if not individually self serving and possibly destructive in the longer term. I'm fairly certain there is a political science major down there now explaining to the home team about the power they just found out they possess. At least I hope there is, because they should explain the downsides as well. At the bare minimum let's pray that someone remembers their Spiderman and invokes "with great power comes great responsibility." 

And by the way, the NCAA is in trouble and ain't even know it.

I can already see a protest before the big rivalry game to change school policy on admissions? Or before a bowl appearance to get appropriations for a particular subject? Imagine a threatened walkout before the national championship game to get fill in the blank?

What will play out in the next few months, or possibly even into the college basketball season has the possibility to change the entire idea of college and college athletics as we know it. I'm not even going to go into the NCAA rules involving paying athletes or side jobs, those are obvious. And if this does spill over into basketball season you might go to sleep and wake up to find your Alma mater has had to replace the board to get the team to suit up for the tourney. Think about the implications. It is possible that a particularly persuasive social justice movement may actually cause the implosion of a prominent program if the NCAA feels forced to revive the death penalty in response. 

One only hopes that college athletics have advanced enough that the players realize that only the most serious of subjects deserve this kind of attention and they shouldn't let themselves be manipulated into serving the interests of those who are only interested in them because of the potential power they possess. This was a particularly unique situation, or should be considered so, and thus repeats of this extreme should be rare and infrequent. This should be preached to the team, not necessarily by the coaching staff but by the players to themselves, and if possible to more even keeled of their fellow students.

Well, the box is open. Now let's see what happens. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

They came for my Bacon, and I said too far!

Ramblings Post # 303
What is life? Is not it an series of memories, experiences, sensations that we intersect with as time passes? And if that isn't the answer, pass me a drink. I don't really what know what life is, or what would be a good life or bad life in the grand scheme of things. But I do know that while whatever happens should happen in moderation, I also know that you can't always play it safe. Or those will all be some dull ass memories, experiences and sensations. 

I think we were talking about cooking on my last project, and somehow the subject of Bacon came up. I happen to like bacon. As it turns out, after a quick count, I just happen to have eighteen pictures of bacon on my phone. Not random pictures of bacon, that would be crazy, but photos of particularly well crafted batches that I have personally made over the past few years. I mean, it's a thing now, taking pictures of food before you eat it. Look it up. And I have posted pictures of bacon to Twitter and Instagram, declaring loudly on trying days or when things don't look too exciting that what the world needs is a Bacon day.

One of my better efforts. Properly turned and crispy.
By the way, the proper way to cook bacon is at a medium heat, not high heat. Spanky makes her bacon at high heat and has to use a press to keep the meat from curling up. On medium, the meat tightens but doesn't curl, so a press isn't necessary. Further, because it is cooking slowly, there is less chance of burning or overcooking, which can give your bacon a texture more unto jerky than the crisp you most likely want.

Never microwave bacon, or bake it, or use that abomination Turkey bacon unless you just hate yourself. If you do, take some time and properly cook REAL bacon and some of whatever it is you're subjecting yourself to and compare. It's the difference between Filet Mignon and McDonald's. Or a plane ride across the country and walking. Save yourself. 

Now, I don't eat bacon everyday. Too much of a good thing is just as bad as not eating it. I usually do it about once a week, on Saturdays. I take my time, make some biscuits, or do up some hash browns, eggs and toast. I have done pancakes, but not lately. And I make about a half pound of bacon, which I then proceed to eat over the course of a full day. Not all once, jeez. Maybe three or four pieces at breakfast and then the rest as snacks as I get hungry. A half pound is only like seven or eight pieces, give me a break. 

Get it? I really like bacon. Now some study says that eating bacon will increase my risk of cancer. Marginally. Supposedly proven and stuff, by like science and stuff, and I try not to argue with folks who can do better math than me. Sigh. 

Well, I wasn't going to live forever anyway.

Barkeep. Can I get a coffee, some toast and ....what do you mean, no breakfast food?

Friday, October 30, 2015

A good story can come from anywhere...

Ramblings Post #302
Sometimes you just find a good story. You sit down and read the first paragraph and you have a few minutes so you keep going. And then you get interested - in a particular character, or a setup and suddenly you find that thirty minutes have passed. But you have to know what happens, so you keep reading. It isn't your normal subject matter, or your normal style, but you keep going. That is good writing. And I just found it on twitter of all places Who would have thunk it? 

I read Zola's story without the intention of actually reading it. I stumbled across it on Reddit, where someone had nicely linked the entire thing, and intended to read a few lines to see what it was all about. I mean, the lead-in was interesting, how did she fall out with the other girl? I don't usually go for things like this, on it's face it seemed almost flimsy, like it it would be over in a few lines. I like to believe I'm a more sophisticated reader, but maybe 50 tweets later as the girls set up shop to start trapping after the club didn't pan out and Zola schooled Jess on "valuation", I was hooked, even at a 140 characters per chapter.

As you know by now the story had everything - plot twists, character development, sex, violence, a very film noir feel and as one twitter follower noted, even passed the Bechdel test. I could see the characters even though she didn't really have space to describe them. It was funny, tragic, parts were a little disturbing and at times it was just flat out amazing. I can't say if the whole thing was true, and even if it wasn't, it was still a very good story.

I can only hope that the stories I put together are this good, and I intended to stick to a basic structure, not just pour it onto the soil like this. It is in reality a little intimidating. It's like trying to compose a song for weeks then hearing that someone made up a hit while eating his breakfast cereal. You wonder a little about effort. You wonder. But you keep writing.

One hopes that Zola's story will be a movie soon. Twitter is already picking out cast members. I see Keith David as the first old guy, at the restaurant when they meet. It's just a feeling I get.

Barkeep. A nice bottle of Merlot. And some pickled eggs.