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Showing posts from 2023

Announcing: Bridezilla (with Kathy Bailey)

πŸ‰ Oh No, They Say He's Got to Go... Hey, everybody. I already mentioned that I'm going to be at Archon this weekend. Well, this will also be the launch of a book that I co-authored with my very good friend Kathy Bailey. It's got science, feminism, laughs, and at least one vehicular explosion, and it can be pre-ordered on Amazon . ]{p

Where to Find Kurt at Archon This Weekend

πŸ‘‘ "Once I Was the King of Spain..." Hey everybody, I'm going to be at Archon this weekend. Here's my schedule: Opening Sentences and What They Tell the Reader Friday 19:00, Marquette A Panelists read first sentences from a variety of published books and stories, and discuss the variety of approaches they represent, such as "the hook" vs. world-building vs. setting the mood, etc. What makes us want to read on? Dammit Jim! I'm a Fan, Not a Nuclear Scientist! (moderator) Saturday 12:00, Marquette B Horror stories of completely unqualified convention panelists. The Ultimate MCU Movie and TV Show Ranking Extravaganza! Saturday 13:00, Salon 6 Argue and defend your choices of the best, worst, and middling selections of the movies and shows that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Concert: Uncle Fluffy's Post-Apocalyptic Sing-Along Saturday 17:00, Mississippian Teaching children survival skills after the apocalypse. Holy Rotten Eggs, Batman!: A Retrospec

Consumed With Hate: Modern Rock Radio

🎸 It's Got a Backbeat, You Can't Lose It... The Crime: Modern rock radio The Guilty Party: It's complicated... Overview: Attention-grabby production techniques coupled with a de facto payola system, monopolistic business practices, and the stagnation that comes with age all contribute to rock terrestrial radio stations sucking. Why I Hate It... Before I go into this tirade about kids these days and their rock music, let me just say that I'm not actually complaining about kids these days and their rock music. The scope of my ire here is pretty narrow and has less to do with youth culture than it does with hyper-conservative (small-c conservative, I should say) business practices. So, yes I'm a grumpy old man, but give me a couple paragraphs to make my case before you write me off as a grumpy old man. Which I am. When it comes to commercial art, form follows medium. Just to give an example, there's a reason hour-long television shows used to have a 4-act structur

Consumed With Hate: The Chumscrubber

🐬No, I Don't Want Your Number... The Crime:  The Chumscrubber The Guilty Party: Arie Posen Overview: A mid-budget "indie" film gets lost in its own muddled storytelling Why I Hate It... The 90s indie boom changed the film landscape, launching the careers of auteurs like Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, Spike Lee, David O. Russell, the Cohen brothers, Spike Jonez, Robert Rodriguez, Sofia Coppola, Wes Anderson, and more. After Pulp Fiction  (which was financed by Disney, but still was huge force behind the movement), we had a slew of films with non-linear stories. The Blair Witch Project  basically invented "found footage" as a genre and spawned multiple imitators. As the trend continued, major studios started to spin off their own "indie" subsidiaries like Focus Features and Fox Searchlight. A lot of this was clout chasing. Harvey Weinstein was notoriously thirsty for Oscars (not, admittedly, his most grievous sin during this period, but that's neit

Consumed With Hate: Black Leopard, Red Wolf

🐺 I'm on the Hunt I'm After You... The Crime:  Black Leopard, Red Wolf The Guilty Party: Marlon James Overview: There is not a content warning big enough... Why I Hate It... When this book started hitting the hype circuit, the pitch was " Game of Thrones  in Africa" and I was so  excited for it. I don't know if I can overstate how much I loved the first three Song of Ice and Fire  books, and taking literary epic fantasy and transplanting it into a world that isn't just another boring analog of Medieval England ( or a world populated by dinosaurs for that matter ) is catnip for me. And I'm not terribly well-versed in African folklore, so I was eager to read a large-scale fantasy rooted in that tradition. Well, unsurprisingly, the book did not live up to the hype for me, meaning I am now 0-for-2 in books that use Game of Thrones  as a comp title in their pre-launch marketing. I'll start by saying that, if nothing else, the prose is elegant. The texture

Consumed With Hate: Braveheart

⚔️ All We Have To Do Now Is Take These Lies And Make Them True... The Crime:  Braveheart The Guilty Party: Mel Gibson Overview: An epic adventure bastardizes one of the most significant figures from Scottish history. Why I Hate It... This used to be my favorite movie. And no wonder, because Mel Gibson's biopic of William Wallace is  extremely  well made. I'm going to get very critical further down, but let's take a moment to acknowledge that from a perspective of pure film-craft, Braveheart  shines. In the audio commentary on the DVD, Gibson talks about some of the technical aspects of shooting the film, like using atmosphere as foreshadowing and shooting at different film speeds, and that stuff's actually pretty interesting. They did a boot camp for the stunt extras about how to sell a hit safely where they would watch demonstrations with one eye covered up because the camera doesn't have depth perception. Really fascinating stuff. He also defends the historicity o

Consumed With Hate: Meet the Robinsons

🎩 And Here's to You... The Crime: Meet the Robinsons The Guilty Party: John Bernstein and Michelle Spitz and Don Hall and Nathan Greno and Aurian Redson and Joe Mateo and Stephen Anderson Overview: Disney writes a love-letter to itself in the form of an exhausting and incoherent time travel story. Why I Hate It... A good rule of thumb I've devised over the years is that the quality of a film is inversely proportional to the number of credited screenwriters. This is not universal by any stretch--a singular visionary can still produce a turd all by his or herself. But as the number creeps above two, you start to see diminishing returns. This has less to do with coherence of vision than it has to do with the nature of editing. As any writer who's done fifteen drafts of the first chapter of their novel can attest, there comes a point where revisions start actively making it worse. And in Hollywood, new revisions are tied to new screenwriters. Screenplay doesn't work? Brin

Consumed With Hate? The Wall

⚒️ Stop! Hammer Time... The Crime: The Wall The Guilty Party: Roger Waters, mostly Overview: An ambitious project undermined by a lack of focus and some very specific technical limitations. Why I Don't Completely Hate It... Okay, okay, okay, I have to caveat the shit out of this thing right up front. First, I'll just say that "hate" is a strong word for my feelings about The Wall . I don't enjoy it. I have attempted on multiple occasions to enjoy it and each time I've come up short. This, much like my review of  Sucker Punch , is less of a condemnation and more of an exploration of something that doesn't work for me but that I still kind of admire for what it's attempting. Second, you're probably wondering if I mean the movie or the album and the answer is yes . I'm lumping them together because The Wall  was a multi-media event comprising an album, a film, and a concert experience. And the film and album are so intertwined that it really doesn

Consumed With Hate: Live and Let Die

🀡‍♂️ They've Given You a Number and Taken Away Your Name... The Crime:  Live and Let Die The Guilty Party: Guy Hamilton? Roger Moore? Tom Mankeiwicz? Ian Fleming? All of the above? Overview: Roger Moore's first outing as James Bond is... [checks notes] ... a blaxploitation film? Why I Hate It... Let's get one things out of the way from the get-go: Most James Bond movies are bad. It is not a good franchise. For every actual good movie--say, a  Goldeneye  or Casino Royale-- you then get a string of disappointments featuring a lead who is increasingly tired of the role and a story development pipeline that is phoning it in. This death spiral will continue until the movies start to tank at the box office and the whole franchise has to reinvent itself again. Even the classics are worse than you remember. Thunderball  is a snoozefest. On Her Majesty's Secret Service  aspires to tell a story with more weight behind it, but is held back by a lead who has all the screen presenc

Consumed With Hate: Crippled America

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ All of Which Are American Dreams... The Crime:  Crippled America The Guilty Party: Donald Trump Overview: He certainly did Why I Hate It... This book was originally published as promo material in advance of the 2016 election. It was almost immediately re-issued under a different title,  Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America . I listened to the audiobook when it was new and the review I wrote at the time is reproduced below. I think the review stands, so I haven't altered it except for minor grammatical tweaks. My feelings have changed slightly, given the context of history, but I'll save those thoughts for afterwards. So without further ado... 90% of this books is exactly what you'd expect: a laundry list of conservative talking points. They're a bit more polished than his stump speeches, but no less simplistic or condescending. The running themes are familiar. Everyone is an idiot except Donald J. Trump. People think you need experience and a nuanced view o

Consumed With Hate: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

πŸ™Š Woke Up This Morning, Didn't Recognize the Man in the Mirror... The Crime:  X-Men Origins: Wolverine The Guilty Party: Hugh Jackman, weirdly enough Overview: An ugly, dumb, badly-paced, and wholly unnecessary film that is mostly remembered for how it tried to ruin Deadpool. Why I Hate It... It's been hard to pick topics this month. There's no shortage of bad movies and shows that fall under the Marvel umbrella, but it's been hard to come up with things that are truly awful that I've seen and remember well enough to write about. The big stinkers: Iron Fist , Elektra , Dark Phoenix , Amazing Spider-Man 2 , and Josh Trank's Fant4stic  are things that I just never bothered to watch. There's Sam Raimi's  Spider-Man 3 , but talking about how bad that movie is has almost become a clichΓ© at this point. So instead I've focused on things that weren't terrible, but didn't work in interesting ways. Black Widow 's not a terrible movie, it's not

Stray Thoughts: The MCU's Phase 4 Problem

🦸 And 4, 4, 4 For My Headaches... Even the most devoted MCU fanboy (read: me) has to admit that the content of Marvel's "Phase 4" has been lackluster. For a little context, I started this rant while I was writing up my critique of the Loki  Disney+ series and it quickly became evident that I had too many digressions and needed to break this out into a separate post. But I think it's useful to keep Loki  in mind when considering all of this because the problems plaguing the post- Infinity-Saga  Marvel content are evident there in microcosm, from the re-arranged schedules to the inability to do anything interesting with a multiverse to the seeming lack of quality control especially in the scripting. Indeed, these problems started with Phase 4 and are continuing into whatever phase we're in now--5, I think?--but Loki  was the first indication that the wheels were coming off the wagon. So, with that table-setting out of the way, what are the problems with Phase 4? T