Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Good and Bad: 'The Walking Dead' (2/23/14)


Season 4, Episode 11: Claimed

Plot: So now that we know where everybody is, it’s time to start giving them stuff to do. And boy do they get stuff. Michonne and Carl spend the episode wandering around town looking for food, but all they find is cheese in a can and backstory. We learn a little about Michonne’s life before Z-day, but sadly no mention of her ninja training with a goateed Liam Neeson.  
Also this week, Rick proves once again why he should never ever be allowed to go to sleep. This time, not only does he wake up in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, but he wakes up in the middle of a zombie apocalypse with a heavily armed gang of crazies taking over the first floor of the house he was napping in. A heavily armed gang of crazies that are more than willing to choke each other out for the right to sleep in what looks like the world’s least comfortable bed. After hiding under said bed like Kevin McAllister for a bit, Rick sneaks out, kills what we can only hope and assume was a gang member on that toilet and then saves Carl and Michonne from wandering right smack what seems to be a pretty bad situation.
Meanwhile, Glenn and Tara are headed to Washington, D.C. with Rectangle head, Danny McBride and Latina Sarah Conner. Well, they are until Glenn wakes up and decides to go find his wife. A large scuffle ensues, a herd of walkers descends on the scene and Danny McBride valiantly, heroically manages to completely destroy the group’s truck with a machine gun while killing almost no walkers. But before you start calling him “The Walking Dead”’s mulleted Gilligan, the man does seem to have a purpose. Rectangle head, who seems to prefer going by the less geometrically accurate name of Abraham, informs the gang that the reason they were headed to D.C. was because Danny McBride knows what started the zombie apocalypse and presumably how to stop it. Sure saving the world is important and all, but first Glenn needs to find his wife and because Ladies Love Cool Glenn, Tara and Latina Sara Conner follow suit, dragging their two male companions along for the ride.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The author is DEAD! (Not really, but when he is, here's what to do about it)


I've been doing a lot of thinking about death recently. Not in the melodramatic, what does it all mean, where are we going sense, but more in the practical, what's going to happen to this hunk of meat I leave behind?
Maybe hunk is an exaggeration. Average-looking might be a better way to put it. 
So what's caused this?
Well, for one thing, I've been working my way through “Six Feet Under” since Christmas time and it’s safe to say that daily doses of that show for going on three months is more than enough to make you want to splash black paint on your windows, curl up into a ball and wait for the reaper to show up do his thing.
But more importantly, I've been to two funerals in the last month, well a funeral and a viewing. All of that got me thinking about how I want to go out when the time comes.
Or more accurately, what I want folks to do with me once my spirit has left the building.
And honestly, what better place than a blog about nothing to record my final and in no way legally binding wishes?
Perhaps one day when I kick the bucket, one of my great grandkids, or more likely a special investigator for the IRS, will find this sandwiched on here in between rants about RoboCop and briefly consider honoring my wishes. That is before they get to my thoughts onfist-bumps and realize great granddad or the taxpayer clearly hasn’t been in control of his faculties for some time and thus he should be ignored as much as possible.
                Whoever you are, here’s what needs to go down.
                Firstly, no life support. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Good and Bad: 'The Walking Dead' (2/16/14)

At least you're not stuck with Carol

Season 4, Episode 10: “Inmates”
Warning: Here be spoilers

                Plot: In last week’s midseason premiere, “After,” we caught up with the team of Carl and Rick and Michonne, who was flying solo, as they tried to find their way in a world after their prison-home was blown up by a tank. This week, we touch base with everybody else. The episode opens with the most huggable pair of survivors on the show – Daryl and Beth (formerly known as: “Herschel’s Blonde Daughter”). They run around in the woods, Beth narrates from her diary, it’s seriously awesome. Eventually, they wind up tracking what they hope is another group of survivors through the woods.
When we come back from commercial, we meet up with Tyreese, who is in a very unenviable state: He’s wounded – maybe bit – and worse: He’s saddled with the two small blonde girls and Rick’s infant daughter Judith. Things go from bad to worse for Tyreese when Carol (you know, the one who he doesn’t know incinerated his sick girlfriend back at the prison) shows up completely out of nowhere to join their little gang. They kill some zombies, older blonde girl secretly tries to suffocate baby Judith in order to keep her from crying and   attracting zombies. We realize that this is the group Daryl and Beth are tracking and the segment ends with Tyreese, Carol and the kids making their way towards a settlement called Terminus.
Next it’s Maggie, Sasha and Bob, who is the drunken black dude in case the name Bob doesn’t ring a bell. Bob is also hurt, but he seems to have been shot, Maggie decides she’s going to leave them to go follow the bus that Glenn was in, they decide to tag along, they find the bus and surprise, it’s full of walkers. The gang works together to off the walkers, Maggie goes inside to look for signs of Glenn. She’s attacked by and kills one last walker, who keeps his back to the camera, but who has sorta long, string hair. She breaks down. Did she do it? Did she kill Glenn?
The last segment of the night answers that: No. You see, Glenn never got on the bus. He ended up stuck on a catwalk at the prison, finds his way off, goes to take a nap, decides against it. When he finally gets the memo that it’s time to leave the prison – seeing as though it’s on fire and deserted, that seems like a plan – he stumbles upon Tara, one of the Gov’s old pals. She’s pretty bummed about the whole let’s start a war for that one-eyed guy we just met thing. Glenn, being the peach that he is and not wanting to go it alone, asks her to come with. As per the usual, they run into and mow down a bunch of zombies and then, as the episode concludes, a military vehicle pulls up and out steps Rectangle Head, Danny McBride and Latino Sarah Conner all decked out in military fatigues.
Busy episode, but a very strong one.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review: 'RoboCop' remake really, really ... meh

My expectations going in to the new “RoboCop” movie were pretty low to begin with as I walked into a matinee show yesterday.
                I didn’t read any reviews or anything like that, but some of the recent TV spots and the PG-13 rating didn’t do much to get my hopes up.  
                So it’s not exactly accurate to say I was disappointed by what unfolded. In a lot of ways, I got pretty much what I expected, which adds up to my “meh” feelings about this one.
                It’s 2028 and OmniCorp is a giant, Halliburton-y corporation specializing in robotics, more specifically in drones built for warfare. The drones have mostly worked in the Middle East, so it wants to bring the technology home to America.
But the American people don’t like the idea of putting life or death decisions in the metal hands of machines, at least not American lives anyway because duh, so Omni’s CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) decides to meet everyone halfway, by sticking a man – or parts of one – in a robotic suit.
                Just so happens that right around that time, Officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is critically injured by a car bomb in the line of duty. In an effort to give him a second chance, his wife (Abbie Cornish) signs Murphy’s body over to Omni, thus giving us RoboCop.
                The biggest problem I had with this remake is one that was nagging me after watching a few of the movie’s trailers. Even the good ones didn’t seem to have a big bad, supervillain-type. If you knew the old movies, they you could guess that Omni would fill that role in some way, but the trailers weren’t pushing anything.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Good and Bad: 'The Walking Dead' (2/9/14)

A locked door. Carl's greatest nemesis.

Season 4, Episode 9: “After”

Warning here be spoilers:

Plot: Following their unceremonious eviction from their prison fortress and the breakup of their group, Rick and Carl set up camp in a seemingly abandoned suburban neighborhood. Rick’s in terrible shape after his fight with the Governor and soon slips into unconsciousness after helping Carl secure a house for them to stay in. Carl wanders the neighborhood, works out some daddy issues, loses a shoe, gains a giant can of pudding and eventually Rick wakes up. Meanwhile, Michonne makes herself a couple of new arm-less, jaw-less zombie pets so she can walk around un-harassed by the un-dead. We get a little backstory from her and even some emotion. As the episode ends, she stumbles upon the house where Rick and Carl are staying, reuniting with her friends.

Good: No more Gov. It’s risky to say that anyone’s ever really gone on a show whose basic premise is about people coming back from the dead. But for all intents and purposes, the Governor seems to be no more. For now. Seeing him lying there all dead and such at the beginning of this episode was sorta sad because it meant no more David Morrissey, who was a delight and who made the best out of a wildly uneven character. It seemed like the show never really knew what to do with him. Instead of giving the Gov – who comic book readers swear by – a bad ass run on the show, they hemmed and hawed through one up and down season and then tacked another half season to boot. And then the show used that bonus time to make him just go and re-do everything he did during the previous season. Fare thee well, Gov. Please don’t come back.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Doors? What doors? Apocalyptic breaches of bathroom etiquette


I’ve seen more naked guys than the gay equivalent of Wilt Chamberlain. Or the female equivalent of Wilt Chamberlain for that matter.  
Maybe that statement needs some context.
I’ve been an avid gym-goer for several years now. I go early in the morning, pump a little iron as the kids say and then go to work and sit on my butt all day, completely undoing whatever progress I’d made earlier. You know, because it’s important to maintain the status quo. 
Anyway, if there’s one thing you learn by going to gyms during the hours most frequented by an older crowd, it's that old people have no shame. They give zero craps.
So pretty quickly you get used to the idea of seeing an old dude brushing his teeth at a sink while his bait and tackle rests on the counter.
You get used to it and you also make a mental note to keep your own tooth brush as far away from any and all surfaces in a locker room as if the toothbrush was your daughter and the surfaces were Justin Bieber - after he’d had a bunch of old man balls rubbed all over him.
Now I want to make it clear that being naked in a locker room doesn't bother me. It’s what it’s there for. I’m frequently naked in locker rooms and occasionally in other rooms, as well. 
But being a repressed, Catholic-raised prude at heart, the thing that does get to me is this need to make a show of it, aka the dude scrubbing the counter with his pork and beans. Or the other guy who feels the need to walk clear across the room in his birthday suit to weigh himself.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Homemade signs, greasy food and the ghosts of S*per Bowls past


On average, I’d say I watch somewhere in the neighborhood of one full football game a year and it just so happens to be the Super Bowl. The large game. The grande enchilada.
That’s the only football game I’ll watch from the opening kickoff through the post-end credits scene where Sam Jackson shows up with a zany plan.
                  There’s really no reason for me to watch the aforementioned large game. I don’t have the stomach to gamble and I’m clearly not much of a football fan. On top of that, my office doesn’t even have a water cooler, so there’s nothing to gather around on Monday and dissect the Xs and Os of the game.
                And by Xs and Os I mean the commercials and the halftime show.
                Despite all of that, I still make it a point to watch and have since my days as a small boy.
                Every year my parents, sister and I would dine on hoagies and wings, eating them off football-themed plates and napkins. My dad would spend half the game reminding my mom of how football worked and the other half waving the white flag in the face of her never-ending onslaught of questions. Every single year.
                It warms the cockles of my heart just thinking about it. 
                Another tradition was the decorations. For whatever reason, as a youth I got it in my head that I needed to be the official decorating committee of my family’s Super Bowl festivities.
                So starting on Super Bowl eve, I’d cobble together a bunch of hand-made pennants with crudely scribbled slogans on them: Go Niners! Go Giants! Switzer’s a bum! And so forth like that.
                Then I’d wait for the first floor of our family home to clear out. I liked to work in private, so I’d dawdle until everyone wandered to other areas. Perhaps I thought it was best for artwork of that caliber to hit the audience all at one time. That way they could drink in the deep-seated commentary I was trying to convey in one giant gulp.