Category Archives: Movies

Of Meyers and Monkeys


Budge and Deuce are at a late showing of the newest “must see” cinema attraction, the long awaited epic screen adaptation of . . . Breaking Dawn, part 1. Really, they are. This was one movie Budge didn’t even bother to ask me to take her to see because my beloved and longsuffering wife knows that frost will form on the hinges of Hell ere this little duck pays to see vampires sparkle.

We're working on it, Ms. Meyer.


“Vampires sparkle.” Just typing that phrase threatens to make all my lovely Chickpea Chicken supper suddenly reappear.

At this juncture, I want to state for the record that I am all too intimately aware that Ms. Meyers has sold more novels in a day than I have or very likely ever will have sold in my entire hypothetical lifetime. I know this. I also know that the aforementioned Ms. Meyers now has more money in book sales, licensed merchandise, and movie royalties than the GNP of SEVERAL smaller nations. I realize this, I admit this, and I submit ONE reason in my defense that I am not simply spouting about sour grapes as an unpublished and unpopular writer.

My reason, in the words of a fine Baptist preacher named Charles H. Spurgeon, is “A hog in a silk waistcoat is still a hog.”  Ms. Meyers can get richer than Solomon by selling more books than the Bible and it will not change the fact her magnum opus is as well-written as the assembly instructions for a piece of IKEA furniture.

For starters, Mrs. Bella Cullen (nee‘ Swan) is THE most insipid, weak, and pablum sipping “heroine” since Pollyanna. Why ANYONE, let alone two supernatural beings the likes of Sparkles and Lassie would be willing to grant her a moment’s glance is beyond me. I find it appalling so many young girls and GROWN WOMEN think of Bella as a suitable role model. Her craven, driveling character sets the cause of women’s rights back to the Victorian Era at best.

Secondly, the works rely on every stereotype known to feeble literature. The vampire is “charming?” Well, thank you Mr. Stoker, oh, I meant Ms. Meyers. An American Indian (or other rustic native) is a shapeshifter? Really? That trope hasn’t been used since, oh, I don’t know . . . Underworld? (And incidentally, Kate Beckinsale on her WORST day is blazingly hotter than Kristen Stewart in full wedding array.)

Thirdly, the books have more plot holes than Danish lace. A “family” that never ages lives in the same vicinity off and on for two centuries or so? GROWN VAMPIRES go to high school regularly? Well, Ms. Meyer obviously never went to high school biology class because if she did, she’d know that, by her OWN admission, vampire blood does not circulate in a vampire’s body. Since the blood doesn’t move, neither does Edward’s “little fang”. Hard to figure out where little Reneesme came from, now isn’t it?

Finally, and most importantly, Meyer ignores over 1,000 years of written eldritch history and supernatural lore. If she had one iota of respect for the tons of work that came before her she would know that VAMPIRES. DO. NOT. SPARKLE!!

Vampires die in the Sun. They burst into flames and blow away on the cold wind of irony and unrequited love!


So yes, Stephanie Meyer has raked in the dough and proven the Infinite Monkey Theorem in the process. She has followed in the footsteps of another nouveau riche female writer, J.K. Rowling. They both have truckloads of money and shiploads of fame. Of course, Rowling is twice the writer Meyer is, and I despise Rowling as well — for other, more esoteric reasons.

I think no less a literary figure than Stephen King says it best. On comparing Bella and Harry, the King of Horror himself says, “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”

And if he’d thought about it some more, you know what else he would have said?


Love y’all. Keep those feet clean and just say no to sparkly vampires!

This is all that gives me hope.


Cowboys and Aliens is Worth Seeing


Okay, a movie has to be able to hold a lot of weight to be the kickoff for a 15th anniversary celebration. Cowboys and Aliens delivered nicely. Budge and I made a last-minute decision to skip Captain America in favor of Cowboys and Aliens mostly because the latter fit better into our evening dinner schedule, but also because I am a Cap Am fan and I always dread movies about my favorite heroes because I always end up getting one of two extremes — Iron Man or the first Incredible Hulk. In other words the movie is either outstanding or wretched. Of course, critics and other viewers may love comic book movies that I hate (e.g. X-Men: First Class), but they are watching a movie while I am watching over 40 years of canon, origins, and history slaughtered.

It’s not easy being a fanboy, but someone has to do it.

So Cowboys and Aliens is great. It starts interesting and finishes strong. In between is a strong enough plot to keep the viewers guessing and if that isn’t enough, well . . . the ladies can stare deeply into Daniel Craig’s sky blue eyes. (Parenthetically, while I am most definitely straight with absolutely no homosexual tendencies, I must admit that Daniel Craig is one well put together man.) He also does a fantastic job carrying the movie’s lead role.

If you are staying away from this movie because you had the misfortune of losing two hours of your life to the egregiously nauseating cheesiness that was Will Smith’s Wild Wild West, DON’T! This is not a cheesy or campy movie. It is a luxurious cinematic fusion of two genres — Western and Sci-fi. Yes, aliens invade a small town in the Old West, but that is as far as you must suspend disbelief. The aliens have vastly and overwhelmingly superior technology. The cowboys and their Apache allies have Winchester rifles, Henry Repeaters, and Walker Colt revolvers with some stone point arrows and a few Apache lances tossed in for good measure. The aliens are effectively bulletproof . So this isn’t about a bunch of sharpshooting Texans saving the day OR the magical “discovery” that aliens computers have the exact same programming language as Earth computers so a hastily written virus will bring down the mothership. The good guys do have ONE of the alien’s weapons and Daniel Craig’s character comes by it quite plausibly during his escape from his initial alien capture. It helps, but from the first you know that single weapon won’t defeat this marauding bunch of extraterrestrials.

What carries the movie is the story of a group of people determined to get their people back from these invaders regardless of how hard (basically impossible) that task might be. Characters are deep, especially Harrison Ford’s turn as a hard-bitten Mexican and Civil War veteran who “despises battle, but refuses to run from it.” Daniel Craig’s amnesiac gunslinger character is also intriguing BECAUSE of his amnesia.

This movie is definitely worth seeing. It is as plausible a sci-fi flick as you’ll find. The aliens even obey the laws of physics and at no time do they speak English. It’s also full of memorable lines like, “Do you want to spend your last hours drunk on some beach in Mexico — which, by the way, is NOT a bad plan — or do you want to ride with me one last time?” Finally, it doesn’t succumb to a full-bore Hollywood ending, which I found refreshing.

Go see it. I bet you’ll like it.

Love ya’ll and keep those feet clean.

“The Fighter” isn’t about Boxing


Well, it is, but that’s not the real story. The REAL story is the story of a family and this bunch takes ALL the “fun” out of “dysfunctional.”

Mark Wahlberg stars in this touching and realistic homage to his real life friend, boxer and fellow Bay Stater “Irish” Micky Ward. Both Ward and Wahlberg hail from HUGE Catholic families and both have advanced degrees from the prestigious University of Hard Knocks — Real Life Campus.

The film is very good and the boxing alone makes it worth seeing, but the real story is a once-promising older brother trapped in the haze of drugs and eternally reliving his one glorious moment in the spotlight AND a still promising baby brother of the family emotionally ripped in two by a childlike adoration for his older brother and an earnest desire to “make it” as a boxer in the way the older sibling never could. This movie is an Oscar vehicle and rightly so. Wahlberg turn in a terrific performance as Micky Ward, but Christian Bale is remarkable as the drug addicted, past his prime, Dickie Ecklund.

The best fights in the movie are not in the ring. They are in the living room and kitchen of the Ecklund family home, on the porch of Micky’s girlfriend’s apartment building, and, at one point, in the middle of a Lowell street. Micky is caught in the trap so many young men are when they genuine love their sprawling and brawling families but have come to realize the toxicity of that atmosphere is killing any chance at a real future. As I’ve stated on this blog before, love can smother, wound, and even kill with all the best of intentions.

The women of the film put in fantastic performances, from Micky and Dickie’s mother Alice, who has no idea just how much she favors Dickie over Micky, as well as seven of the raunchiest, ugliest, and most brutal sisters to ever grace the silver screen. Growing up in this household, it’s no wonder Micky Ward eventually won a boxing world title — he had to root hog or die just to get a place at the dining room table and sparring partners abounded, even if they were mostly female.

I was leery of dropping $20 for two tickets on this flick at first, but I can honestly say it was extremely well acted, well scripted and enjoyable. See it. You won’t be disappointed.

Season of the Witch = What I’d Expected


Budge and I didn’t buy tickets to Season of the Witch expecting we’d be viewing an Oscar vehicle and we weren’t disappointed. We went to see this sword and sorcery flick because we both like Nic Cage and I particularly like Ron Perlman. Once again, no disappointment.

This was a movie that gave what it promised, a two hour escape from reality with a clear good guy(s) to root for and an ambiguous to increasingly clear bad guy to boo and hiss. The film accomplished its mission with alacrity and style. I liked it; as did Budge. I am a HUGE fantasy fan and while this wasn’t my beloved Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings trilogy, it wasn’t the worst fantasy movie I’ve ever seen by a long shot.  Nothing at all like, oh say, Bloodrayne or King’s Quest.

In brief, Nic and Ron are two burned out Crusader knights who hack and slash across the known world killing all enemies who would oppose God’s holy Church. Best line of the whole movie? In the middle of ANOTHER huge fight, Ron Perlman’s characters says to Nic’s, “Is it just me or does God have too many enemies?” With the typical deadpan we’ve come to expect since Con Air, Nic’s character replies, “I don’t know about that, but being his friend isn’t much better apparently.”

Anyway, these two erstwhile friends are fiercely loyal to each other so when Nic accidentally skewers a young girl on a smoky battlefield and tells the priest / general he quits, Perlman walks out right behind him. Unfortunately, leaving the Crusade is tantamount to desertion and the medieval church frowned upon desertion. The two are arrested in a plague stricken town and given a choice by the dying head priest of that town — deliver a young girl who is a confessed witch to an abbey of monks for trial, or face hanging or burning at the stake.

Well, that’s not much of a choice for a couple of Dark Age original gangsters like these two so they take the offer and accompanied by a few companions, set off with titular witch encaged in a wagon. Dark forests, wolves, plague ravaged villages, you know, basic fantasy stuff. Generally, mayhem ensues.

So, this isn’t a movie that’ll win an Oscar, but it’s a terrific way to spend the afternoon with a significant other.

Love y’all and keep your feet clean.

Tron Legacy is Eye Candy!


I love what Budge said as we left our viewing of Tron: Legacy in IMAX-3D, “Jeff Bridges does a great job of capturing a guy lost in the late ’80s.” Since she was in elementary school in the “late 80s”, I’m not sure how she knows this . . . but she’s right. HA!

My favorite line of the movie — Flynn, Sr to Flynn, Jr: “You’re really messing with my Zen thing, man!”

I was in elementary school when the original Tron showed at the now-paved-over-with-a-parking-lot Oaks Theater in Laurens, and it was one of the movies (along with Star Wars IV, V, and VI) that made me into a sci-fi / fantasy geek. You always worry when someone remakes one of your childhood landmark events, but the guys behind this sequel did a great job filling in the intervening twenty years and bringing us up to speed with some plausible (for a sci-fi flick) reasons for Flynn’s captivity in the machine. Of course, some other areas, like how “digital” food keeps carbon based life forms alive for all those years are a bit lacking, but at least it’s not Jar-Jar Binks!

The story was interesting, but no one came to an IMAX 3D theater for a STORY. This movie is a special effects dream. As incredible as it sounds, Tron: Legacy was my first IMAX movie and I’m completely spoiled now. The picture is beyond explanation, but the SOUND!!

I want to see Handel’s Messiah on-screen in an IMAX now.

But I digress in rapture at the medium rather than the media . . .

The movie is one of those shows you need to see at the movies. Some movies don’t lose much from the big screen to DVD, but this one will. I don’t care that you have an LCD the size of your living room wall and home theater surround sound . . . it ain’t IMAX and those lightcycles won’t look the same otherwise.

In short, if you, too, were an 80’s child and have an old TRS-80 or Commodore-64 in the attic, you won’t be disappointed in Tron: Legacy. It doesn’t run rough-shod over your childhood and it’s a ball of fun to watch.

Unstoppable is a fun ride!


Budge had a great idea yesterday. She finished grading the week’s worth of fourth graders’ work much earlier than usual so she asked me out on a date. Since I’ve been out of work going on two years now, date nights are few and far between, so I figured we’d just pay a bill late and go have a little fun.

We’d both wanted to see Unstoppable with Denzel Washington and Chris “the new Captain Kirk” Pine ever since we caught a trailer on one of the trailer sites. Denzel is one of my favorite actors ever and I really enjoyed Chris Pine’s portrayal of Kirk in the Star Trek reboot, so we went to Hollywood 20 and took in the 3:10 matinee.

Apparently some movie about a bunch of teenage wizards fighting some evil dude was released the same day, so our theater was sparsely populated, which is great because I get wildly claustrophobic in crowds. I’ve only broken down four times in ten years and actually gone to the opening weekend of a blockbuster and that was once for each installment of Lord of the Rings and once for Star Trek. Otherwise, I let everyone get his fill and go once things have quieted down.

So, popcorn in hand, we took our seats.

The movie was great. Now don’t get me wrong; it’s no Oscar vehicle, but it’s not over the top ridiculous either. The good guys are easy to root for and the bad guys don’t get much air time . . . except for the runaway train, which is pretty much on screen tons. Both leading men turned in solid performances and several supporting members, including one or two you are certain at the beginning will grate on your nerves, actually become quite likable and you start rooting for them as much as Denzel and Chris.

Like I said, it’s not an Oscar winner at all, but if you want a fun, low key, high adrenaline way to pass an afternoon, this short (99 minutes) but action packed film is just perfect. It’s even got enough “romance” to sneak in as a possible date night movie for someone other than old married couples.

If you do go see it, though, I have one request. Please comment and tell me your theory on where in the world Ned had that nice, pressed three piece suit stashed for the entire film! If you see the movie, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Love y’all and have a good rest of the weekend!

Keep those feet clean.

Me and Freddy


Tomorrow is the celebration of the ancient Celtic feast of Samhain. For the less pagan among us, it’s All Hallow’s Eve. Most of us folks around here just call it Halloween and it’s a time to dress up in a silly costume and eat way too much candy (if you’re a kid), dress up in a silly to slutty costume and drink way too much alcohol (if you’re a typical college student), or dress in the most comfortable things you own to walk / drive all over town so your little goblins and their friends can load up on carbohydrate laden loot (if you’re a parent).

One time-honored tradition for Halloweiners of all ages, though, is the Fright Fest Movie Marathon. That’s when normal, sane folks cut the lights out and cut the DVD player on to watch the craziest, goriest, and scariest movies available to modern man. What results is everyone trying to scare everyone else and lots of jumping and general mayhem. Most people think it’s a terrific way to spend an evening.

I am most emphatically NOT one of those people. When it comes to cinematic terror, I am the most lily-liver coward in the room. You could launch aircraft from the yellow streak down my back. I simply don’t go to or watch horror / thriller / scary / suspenseful movies unless I am tricked or forced (and by forced, I mean you’d better bring the BIG boys) into watching them. My reason is simple — I have bad nerves, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and an overactive imagination.

In other words, I’m jumpier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs at the BEST of times. I don’t need any more terror in my life. This seems quite strange, I know, coming from someone who grew up with Michael, Jason, and Freddy. In some ways, my tween and teen years were the golden age of slasher flicks. All my friends ate them up.

Not me.

The focus of this particular fiasco is the time I got tricked into going to the first “Nightmare on Elm Street” at the old Oaks Twin Theater in Laurens when I was around 13 or so. Now the Oaks, like a lot of theaters back then, had heavy velvet-like floor to ceiling that hung about a foot or so from the cement block walls of the building’s outside. That space was just wide enough for the theater employees to slip into and go up and down the side aisles unnoticed.

This provided ample opportunity for mischief.

Well, most everyone knows about Freddy Kruger and that stupid bladed glove of his — NOW.

We didn’t THEN.

I’m sitting with three other guys two rows down from the mom who brought us and I’m hunkered down as much as my tubby little frame would let me, watching the movie through my fingers and it’s barely past the opening credits. Then, as if my nerves weren’t already shot, random screams started erupting from up and down both sides of the theater. We were down front, so all the screams were behind us. I had no idea what was going on and I was scared poop-less.

I was stuck next to the wall; this turned out to be unfortunate.

At a terrifying moment where Freddy jumps out from nowhere, the curtain next to me parts and a bladed glove come slashing down towards me, followed by an arm in a stripped sweater and a grotesque, hat topped face and head. I screamed like a little girl. Thankfully for my pride, so did my compatriots.

Now, I knew deep down in my psyche that this was a theatrical stunt because things like Freddy didn’t exist, but at the time, the part of the brain tasked with relaying that information to the rest of my mind was on lunch break or something so the message didn’t get out and the more “primitive” sections of the old gray matter took over.

Now folks, I learned early on in life that white boys can’t jump and fat kids can’t run. Whenever my “fight or flight” reflex kicked in, I knew it was root hog or die. Running just meant I’d still get the wedgie and I’d be tired and sweaty in the bargain.

So this arm is coming at me and I’m screaming and my buds are screaming and the folks in the rows in front and back of us are screaming and I’ve got no where to go and nothing to do and I’m terrified and trapped.  Just so you know, a terrified fat kid backed into the corner of a movie seat is a dangerous and unpredictable thing.

I wasn’t sure if the wetness on my pants was from a sudden loss of bladder control or sudden loss of 48 ounce Big Burper slushie control. (It was the slurpee I discovered later) All I was certain of was I was going to die and I determined not to go out like the chumps on the movie screen so when the blades brushed my cheek, I reached up, latched on with both hands, and proceeded to chomp down amidships of that sweater clad arm like a mule eating corn. I swear I felt my jaws lock and my teeth touch bone. I was like Ricki-Ticki-Tavi fighting Nag the Cobra; if I was going to die, at least let me be found with my teeth sunk into my adversary.

At that point, the arm started to shake violently and another whole set of shrieks got added to the surrounding cacophony which just caused me to bite down even harder. Suddenly, the grimace on the masked face was real, actual pain. That’s when my buds started banging me on the back and trying to get me to let go because they’d realized that it was all a stunt. I guess that’s when the message relaying part of my brain decided to return from the potty and I understood what was going on. The poor guy who’d been going up and down behind the curtains scaring people was holding his arm and cussing a blue streak. We didn’t see the rest of the movie.

Just so you know, if they cut the lights on in a movie theater and the show isn’t over, that’s not a “good thing.”

That’s just one of many incidents of my bad reactions to a horror movie. Later on, maybe I’ll tell you about why I was banned (much to my relief) from the campus haunted house in college or perhaps about the time I dislocated my then-girlfriend’s shoulder during Pet Semetary.

Til then, though, Trick or Treat; love y’all and keep those feet clean!