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Showing posts from 2023

Consumed With Hate: Red Rabbit

🐰 I'm-a the Freakin' Pope... The Crime:  Red Rabbit The Guilty Party: Tom Clancy Overview: A spy thriller is short on thrills but long on didacticism. Why I Hate It... The arc of Tom Clancy's career is interesting. His debut novel, The Hunt for Red October , is a legitimate classic that blew up the technothriller genre. It stars Jack Ryan, an all-American Mary Sue who's also an aerophobic CIA analyst, who gets in way over his head helping a Russian submarine commander defect from the Soviet Union. The novel spun off a series in which Ryan's exploits get more heroic as the the stakes get ever higher and the novels get ever longer. By the 90s his books were being turned into blockbuster films and video games, at which point Clancy was firmly a genre unto himself. And then it sort of dropped off around the time Jack Ryan becomes the president of the United States (due to a succession of large-scale terrorist attacks that he failed to stop). The books were overlong by

Consumed With Hate: Cats

🙀 Yeah, Everybody Wants To Pass As Cats... The Crime:  Cats The Guilty Party: Tom Hooper Overview: Nothing short of an unmitigated disaster Why I Hate It... Cards on the table here: I was never  going to like this movie. I'm lukewarm on musicals to begin with, and I've seen Cats , the stage show, and I didn't like it at all. Hell, I'm not overly fond of cats, the animal. But just because I'm not in the target audience, that doesn't mean a target audience doesn't exist, or that I can't appreciate a thing for what it is instead of what I want it to be. And yet this movie failed, on just about every level, to connect with anyone but the most blasted-out-of-their-minds-on-hallucinogens movie-goers. Now I'm not going to go into a laundry list of everything bad about this movie. I would instead point you to Lindsay Ellis's delightful video post mortem . Rather, I am fascinated by how this movie ever came to be in the first place, because it was destin

Geekway To The West 2023 Redux

🎲 I Got Game, She's Got Game, We Got Game... It's that time of year when I spend four days at my favorite board gaming conference: Geekway to the West. This was the first one since the pandemic started that felt like it was really 100% back, and I got to hang out with some old friends and make some new ones. I mostly bypassed the big titles of the year-- Earth , Expeditions , and Rolling Heights --because people in my gaming group own them already, but there was still lots to discover! Here's a rundown of what I played. Cartouche Contract fulfillment and polyomino tile placement with drafting. Unlike a lot of polyomino games, you're not trying to fill a space. Rather, you're pattern matching in order to make connections and close things off. It's pretty light, but a lot of fun. I played it several times and would consider owning it. Shaolia: Warring States I wanted to like this one. It's a fairly meaty dice placement tableau-builder, but it's badly bala

Consumed With Hate: Diana: The Musical

📸 She's All Alone, All Alone in her Time of Need... The Crime: Diana: The Musical The Guilty Party: David Bryan and Joe DiPietro Overview: A wrong-headed venture fails to come together, surprising literally no one Why I Hate It... Diana: The Musical  is shockingly well-produced. The actors are great, the choreography is lively, and it makes excellent use of its small stage to tell a visually dynamic story. The music is better than average for a Broadway show, penned by Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan. The libretto is solid as well--there are even a few moments that are genuinely inspired, like The Main Event  ("The thrilla in Manilla with Camilla") or The Dress ("A feckity-feckity-feckity-feckity F-you dress"). And the costuming is incredible--a number of Diana's iconic outfits have been recreated and there are some truly astounding on-stage quick-changes. So many vital pieces are in place. And yet... you know the kind of book or movie or TV show that, fo

Consumed With Hate: Paint Your Wagon

🎨 I See a Red Door and I Want to Paint it Black... The Crime:  Paint Your Wagon  (stage show) The Guilty Party: Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, and their respective estates Overview: A re-adaptation of the 1951 musical that bears very little resemblance to the film Why I Hate It... The word "anticipointment" was coined for the Star Wars  prequels, but it's not the first thing I think of when I hear that word. I'm a big fan of the soundtrack to the 1968 movie . It was one of those albums we listened to on long car trips, so I associate it with family vacations. I also enjoy the film, but at 3 hours, it's definitely a "sometimes" food. And ever since I started doing theater in the early 90s (sweet Jeebus--when did I get this old?), I've been interested in seeing the stage show. But the opportunity never came up. The show ran on Broadway for about a year in 1951 and to the best of my knowledge there's never been a revival. But then it showed up i

Consumed With Hate: The Script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

⌛Where Do We Go, Where Do We Go Now...? The Crime:  Harry Potter and Cursed Child Parts One and Two Special Rehearsal Edition Script The Guilty Party: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne Overview: Someone published the script for this nonsense story that is used to prop up a special-effects extravaganza of a play that feels like both apologia and ret-conning for the one plot detail that pedants can't let go of from Book 3 and OMG I CAN'T EVEN WITH THIS Why I Hate It... Let's be clear up front that there are a few things this post is not  about. For starters, it's not about the stage show. I haven't seen the stage show. I feel confident that the story of the stage show is hot garbage, but it's clearly intended to be about the spectacle of seeing the "magic" from the Harry Potter world live and in person, and sometimes the combination of spectacle and nostalgia is enough to make up for deficiencies elsewhere. I still enjoy the first Michael Bay T

Consumed With Hate: The President Is Missing

🏛️ Like the Deserts Missed the Rain... The Crime:  The President is Missing The Guilty Party: Bill Clinton and James Patterson Overview: A quote-unquote "thriller" is mired in contextual cringe and eye-rolling political drivel. Why I Hate It... You can see how this would seem like a good idea on paper. James Patterson writes schlocky potboilers, and pairing up with a living ex-president allows for, ahem , unprecedented insight into what a crisis at the highest levels of government looks like from the inside. The result could have been a compelling hybrid of Vince Flynn-style political thriller and Tom Clancy-esque technothriller, and with presidential pedigree on the marquis to boot! Instead, the result is bad. Just… bad. The story opens with President John Duncan being grilled by senators from the opposing party over some kerfuffle that in no way resembles Benghazi. He pulls himself away in order to don a disguise and meet with some foreign operative absent his secret servi

Consumed With Hate: Inglorious Basterds

🐍 Don't Call Me Little Bastard, Call Me Snake... The Crime: Inglorious Basterds The Guilty Party: Quentin Tarantino Overview: Tarantino's already self-indulgent filmmaking style consumes its own tail... Why I Hate It... There was a time in my life when I would have called Quentin Tarantino one of my favorite directors. Pulp Fiction  is one of the four movies that I bought during the shopping trip to pick up my first DVD player. And while my enthusiasm waned for his subsequent movies, my insistence that they were excellent did not. I had convinced myself that Kill Bill, Vol. 1  was a fantastic movie, just one that I never actually felt like watching. But then there was a moment where I changed my mind. It was like flipping a switch. The scales fell from my eyes and I realized that, oh, I don't actually like Tarantino's schtick all that much. And this was that moment... Starting at about 3:39 in the clip the two characters get into a nonsensical disagreement about whethe

Consumed With Hate: Ready Player Two

🕹️ Players Gonna Play, Play, Play, Play, Play... The Crime:  Ready Player Two The Guilty Party: Ernest Cline Overview: A clumsy retread of Ready Player One  that wants to make damned sure we know its author isn't actually a bigot. Why I Hate It... This book is kind of a fascinating failure. It has some enjoyable moments and it ticks off all the boxes of what you would expect in a sequel--same characters, same setting, similar story and tone, higher stakes, bigger and broader obstacles, that kind of thing--and yet it mostly doesn't work. I loved Ready Player One.  I fully acknowledge that the criticisms around representation are 100% merited, and yet I still had a great time reading it. At the end of that book, the protagonist Wade is basically a god in the world of the Oasis, having ascended to the role that Oasis-creator James Halliday had originally taken for himself. So where does a sequel go from there? I would think there are interesting questions to be asked about what i

Consumed With Hate: Help!

🧑🏾‍⚕️ Not Just Anybody... The Crime:  Help! The Guilty Party: The Beatles and Richard Lester Overview: The movie promoting one of the Beatles' most iconic albums has a plot entirely devoted to making fun of Indian people. Why I Hate It... Let's get this out of the way up front: I'm firmly on Team The-Beatles-Are-The-Greatest-Band-In-History. There is a signed poster of the Fab Four framed on the wall opposite me as I write this. And let's get this out of the way as well: the 1965 album  Help!  is a masterpiece. It's the peak of their early-career work. Here are four artists at the top of their craft delivering top tier radio pop just before they embarked on the journey of sonic experimentation that would define their late-career. There was a stretch when it was my oldest child's favorite album, one that he would regularly request. So as my kids were starting to get to the point where they could sit through entire movies, we thought this G-rated musical caper m

Consumed With Hate: Addicted To Outrage

💊 I'm Pushing An Elephant Up The Stairs... The Crime:  Addicted to Outrage: How Thinking Like a Recovering Addict Can Heal the Country The Guilty Party: Glenn Beck Overview: Beck goes full stream-of-consciousness for 400 pages ignoring his own very obvious framing device and, my god, did anybody  edit this? Why I Hate It... The last 20% or so of this book is pretty good. Beck makes an impassioned argument for reaching across the aisle and he offers some practical advice for how to do so, using addiction and AA as a metaphorical framework. I disagree with a lot of his base assumptions and feel like he leans too hard on his own pop philosophy, but those are relatively minor things in the long run. He admits that he built his career stoking outrage, comes dangerously close to actually apologizing for that, and his basic thesis of be-less-of-an-asshole-to-people-you-disagree-with is thoughtful, well-reasoned, and feels like it's coming from a place of honesty and good intentions.