Saturday, August 31, 2013

Eric Roberts Autographs My Chest

I'll probably regret posting this... but I had the opportunity to meet the awesome actor Eric Roberts at the 2013 Meta Con in Minneapolis, and for some reason he ended up signing my chest. Anyway, great actor, and a very cool, funny guy:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The X-Files: Episodes 5-10

Gotta check in and report my progress on my attempt to finally watch every episode of the X-Files.

Episode 5: The Jersey Devil
Uh... Mulder and Scully find a cave woman, and she tries to sell them Geicko car insurance. Zing! Just kidding. Well, I was serious about the cave woman part. Not the best episode.

Episode 6: Shadows
A woman is maybe killing people using telekinesis, but then it turns out it's actually the ghost of her former boss who's trying to save her. Spoiler warning! Now you don't have to sit through this dumb episode.

Episode 7: Ghost in the Machine
An evil artificial intelligent computer that runs an office building becomes self-aware and murders people. That's a pretty dumb plot, but this episode was great fun. Loved it. The X-Files was always at its best when the plots were unapologetically stupid.

Episode 8: Ice
Classic. Mulder and Scully travel to the Arctic with a team of scientists to investigate the mysterious deaths of a group of researchers digging in the ice. Turns out those researchers uncovered an alien species that inhabits your body and makes you turn crazy and murderous. This episode is just a rip-off of The Thing, but it's so well done you'll forgive it. And the Thing was just a remake of an earlier film anyway, that was based on a book that was a riff on Lovecraft.

But, anyway, this one definitely ranks high on my list of best X-Files episodes ever.

Episode 9: Space
And then we have maybe the worst X-Files episode ever. Some ghost is disrupting shuttle launches... or something. It's basically just a bunch of stock footage of the space shuttle intercut into a terrible episode of the X-Files. Skip it.

Episode 10: Fallen Angel
Mulder thinks a government quarantine of a small town is actually a conspiracy to cover up an alien crash site... and he's right! Weird episode, but a lot of fun. The alien ones are always worth watching, because that's the show's main mythology.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In Memoriam: Elmore Leonard (1925 - 2013)

I don't have much to say about Elmore Leonard, the world's most respected, beloved, and prolific crime novelist, or at least not much to say that hundreds of thousands of other bloggers have already written about him. I just wanted to note his passing, and say that I was a fan.

Well, and also I wanted to say one thing that maybe most of those hundreds of thousands of bloggers might not say: Great crime novelist, sure, but an even better writer of Westerns, at least in my opinion. It was through his westerns that I first read Elmore Leonard, and they aren't just my favorite of his works, but some of my favorite of the entire genre.

He will be missed.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

X-Files: Episodes 1-4

I have a confession to make: I've never actually watched the entire run of the X-Files, nor have I seen the films. Of course, most people haven't, but then again most people don't run a blog called "Blessed are the Geeks." I like the show, but I only ever made til.... I dunno. Season five or six maybe. I don't even remember. But I'm finally going to do it. I've been inspired by my buddy The Mugato who has spent the past couple years trying to watch every episode of every version of Star Trek for his blog, and my buddy Jester is also attempting to watch them all too.

Anyway, I thought it might be fun -- or, at least, help to keep me on track -- if I wrote up my thoughts on each episode.

So here are my thoughts on the four episodes I've watched over the past couple days:

Episode 1: Pilot
As pilots go, this was a great intro to the series. The characters are perfectly set up, as is the basic mythology of the show.

Here's the basic plot in case you've never watched the series: FBI special agent Fox Mulder works in the bureau's X-Files department, that details cases that are deemed to be unexplainable. Fellow special agent Dana Skully is assigned to work with him on the cases, in an effort to debunk his more ludicrous theories and assumptions. So it's a perfect odd couple pairing of the true believer and the skeptic. Of course, Mulder is always right and his most ludicrous theories always prove true.

Anyway, it's a fun gimmick and they milked 8 or 9 seasons out of it, and this intro is a bit dry in the story department, but David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are so good it doesn't matter.

Episode 2: Deep Throat
A military test pilot goes missing, and of course Mulder assumes it's because the military is testing aircraft based on UFO technology found at Roswell... or something. This is a classic X-Files plot that's a lot of fun, especially because of an early role by a very young but still very cool Seth Green.

Episode 3: Squeeze
This is where the X-Files actually becomes the X-Files, and distinguishes itself as not just sci-fi, but the scariest horror show on TV. This is also where they start there gimmicky "monster of the week" formula, but that doesn't matter because this was one of their best monsters. Doug Hutchinson plays Eugene Tooms, an immortal cannibal who eats peoples livers so he can prolong his life... or, and he can stretch and fold his body to fit through the mail slot of your front door. The whole thing makes no sense, but it's really fun and really creepy. There's also an early performance by Donal Logue as the FBI's biggest douchebag.

Episode 4: Conduit
Zzzzzzzzz... this episode was pretty boring. The plot was interesting, but nothing much happened. I literally just finished watching this one, and I can't even remember it. The sheriff is played by Michael Cavanaugh, who I originally thought was Frank Gorshin. That's all I have to say about this episode.

Michael Cavanaugh
Frank Gorshin

Wolverine vs. Predator

This is really well done. Why couldn't they do a costume this good in any of the "real" films?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ed Wood vs. Ed Wood

Sometimes I edit together videos just because I want to watch them myself. I looked online the other day for a video that compared clips from Ed Wood's original films with the recreations from Tim Burton's Ed Wood. That video didn't exist, so I had to make it. Anyway, here it is:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Wolverine

I saw this in the theater the other day, and I think I liked it.

That is to say, I liked most of it, was annoyed by part of it, and was generally confused by all of it... but it was fun and exciting and worth checking out. Hugh Jackman is just fun to watch as Wolverine, and since this is his 20th time appearing as the character (or however many times), he's got it down to a science. I'd even go so far as to say this is a very nuanced acting performance, and certainly one of the best you'll ever see in a Summer comic book movie. I'm not saying he should win an Academy Award or something, but I will predict that who ever does win the Academy Award for Best Actor probably won't have put in the kind of work and effort and energy Hugh Jackman put into this role.

In other words I guess I'm saying he should win an Academy Award or something. Who knew?

Jackman was let down storywise, however, since this film had no script. I know some people were credited with writing a screenplay, but I don't believe it. I think everybody just showed up on set every day, improvised a bunch of stuff, then some poor editor had to try to make sense of all the footage and turn it into a movie that could be released for an audience. Now that editor should probably win an Academy Award or something! Seriously, since whoever it was managed to make something entertaining and exciting out of a story that, frankly, made no fracking sense at all. I have no idea what was going on, who were the real villains, what anybody's motivations were, or what happened at the end.

I also give credit to director James Mangold, who does not deserve an Academy Award, but he did do some stellar work crafting a film that was compelling and fun even though its story was completely inexplicable. There was a subplot where Logan (aka "the Wolverine") lost his healing factor and maybe was about to die, but when he was revived and stood up, it was a real heroic moment that made me want to stand up and cheer, even though the scene leading up to it was one of the dumbest things I'd ever seen and that exact moment was totally predictable and cliche. But Mangold is a good enough director that he managed to take a confused, cliched story and make it work and fun. I guess he does deserve an Academy Award too. I dunno.

And hey... if I keep saying this film deserves Academy Awards, why did they go with that mediocre pull quote for the poster?

There were some other actors in this movie, but whatever. I liked that one girl with the redhair, but nobody else really stood out. I thought that blonde lady was super hot, but that was about it. Who was she? I don't mean the actress, I mean the character. Viper was maybe her name? Was she in the comics? I don't remember.

There was no on screen credit for Chris Claremont or Frank Miller -- or at least none that I saw -- but that's probably ok because other than a couple names or the fact that it takes place in Japan, this has nothing to do with their miniseries. There are ninjas in it though, and Logan fights a bunch of samurai. Hell, he even fights a twenty foot tall robot samurai! And he has a super cool fight on top of a train. And there's actually an attempt at some subtext dealing with Wolverine's fear of being immortal and yet not having any love to make an eternal life worth living. Or something. I dunno.

Anyway, I guess I liked it.

In Memoriam: Dennis Farina (1944 - 2013)

One of my all time favorite actors passed away last week. I'm not going to say he was the most versatile actor I've ever seen, but he was certainly one of the most charming, distinctive, and fun to watch. Whenever I do a Chicago accent, I'm really just doing Dennis Farina.

I will miss the guy, but I like to think that somewhere in the afterlife Farina and Jerry Orbach are starring in "Law and Order: Heaven."