Too much of a good thing?

TV exec on Arrow: “Y’know what, kids really like this archery thing. Let’s add more archers to the show.”
TV exec on Flash: “Y’know what, kids really like this speedster thing. Lets add more speedsters to the show.”
TV exec on Supergirl: “Y’know what, kids really like this Super thing. Let’s add more Supers to the show.”
Can someone please fire this guy already?

Godzilla as it was meant to be: rubbery

Went to a movie tonight. Since I was already planning on heading to the theater I decided to make a night of it and treat myself. Eau Claire has a somewhat limited food court, but it does include a Taco Time. Every once in a while I get a craving for a good meat and bean burrito and Taco Time can satisfy. Besides, their Tater Tots are crack with hot sauce.

Sadly, even though I got there before six, Taco Time was already closed. I wound up settling for, and being immensely disappointed by, some Chinese food. It was barely sauced jerky with rice so old and dry it had returned to it’s original crunchy form. As I gagged my way through my meal I noted some others in the food court area.

It wasn’t hard to pick out the Godzilla crowd. Most of us don’t come out into the open air much. Luckily the film was timed such that the sun was already down. As I moved on to the theater the density of the geek intensified. It’s been a long time since I’d immersed myself that deep in the geek.

I got my ticket and popcorn and picked a seat somewhere near the middle towards the back. As I waited for others to arrive a couple of fellows sat down behind me, evidently winded from the long climb up the inactive escalator. Honestly, why have an escalator in a mall if you’re just going to shut it off?

It quickly became apparent as the fellows wheezed and bellowed behind me that at least one of them had some seriously horrible breath. I don’t know what he’s suffering from, whether it be half a mouthful of rotting teeth or a literal Hellmouth opening in his esophagus, but it put me off my popcorn for most of the evening.

Luckily for me when James arrived he picked his own seat and texted his location. I used that as a convenient excuse to retreat from the noxious green cloud.

The movie… the movie was, as James pointed out, about 90% bureaucracy and 10% rubber suit guy kicking chunks of a fairly decently modeled Tokyo around. Some of the light effects were impressive, but not much different from special effects of the seventies.

The movie was bad in a way that made me wish we were watching it in someone’s living room where sarcastic comments would have been welcome.

The particular quirk of this Godzilla movie was the discovery that it evolved and mutated on the spot. It went through four different iterations before settling on it’s final form.

It's first form doesn't have forelegs and it just shoves it's way around the floor.

It’s first form doesn’t have forelegs and it just shoves it’s way around the floor.

The first form reminded me of a cat caught in a sandal, but scales and an expressionless fish head.

Other noteworthy rules of the movie:
1) In Japan it’s important to weigh your future political aspirations while making decisions about a giant monster laying waste to your city. You don’t want to close off future avenues of advancement.
2) American daughters, particularly those born in Japan and raised in the US, have almost incomprehensible accents, bad enough that I was thankful for the subtitles during the English speaking parts as well.
3) If you REALLY want to blow something up, call an American. Then complain bitterly when those same Americans insist that the next stage from aerial bombardment is, clearly, the largest nuclear weapon they can get ready in 24 hours.

Leaving the theater I realized I had downed all my drink but ate less than a third of my popcorn. It’s official. I’m old. There was a time, not long ago, where I ran the risk of finishing my popcorn off before the opening credits were done.

Riding to sleep

I took a long ride tonight. I’ve been wanting to take the bike out for a ride for a very long time. I never have any real reason for riding it and never have the money to indulge in any real travel. But today I hit a wall and I needed to get out.

I first rode to Chinook. Why? Because it gave me a single, simple goal and allowed me to use a couple of “fast” roads to take the bike up to speed. I parked at the very top of the parking cluster and stopped in at the food court. Treating myself to a cheap meal I relaxed and finished a book I’d been reading. “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline. It’s a fascinating little book juxtaposing the life of an orphan in the 1930s with the life of an orphan in the aughts. Vivian was orphaned in New York in 1929 and bounced between a few homes of increasing misery before lucking out with a couple who owned a general goods store. Molly is orphaned in the 2000s and bounces from foster home to foster home before encountering Vivian.

It says something about me that, in the last few pages of the book, as the storyline becomes more and more positive, I kept waiting for the Bad News Hammer to fall. But everything ended up okay, families were reunited, and everything was a super duper happy ending.

I'm sorry everything worked out so well.

I’m sorry everything worked out so well.

Which kind of disappointed me, and cheapened the struggles. Everything up until that point had been painfully realistic, with loss and achievement fairly evenly matched. When things went truly horrid I had the sense that the characters would seize on a chance that would turn their fortunes around, and they did. And when things were going smooth and easy I expected the characters to hit some other terrible snag, someone might die or a home would be lost, and they would have to persevere. And they did.

But the super happy fun time ending kind of… fizzled the whole experience. It was just the kind of thing where I expect some producer was sitting off to one side and said “can we guarantee a happy ending?” lest the funding run out.

Other than the ending the book is very well written and thoroughly researched. I strongly recommend it, particularly if you’re looking for something with a Disney ending.

Having finished my book I returned to my bike and suited up for a full speed run. I quickly decided to make a long trip home. The sun was down and the twilight was just perfect. I took Glenmore to Deerfoot to Stoney to Crowchild. The whole ride home took me about 45 minutes and made me realize that, were I to suddenly be rich, I would need to ease myself back into long distance riding. My ass was decidedly sore by the end of it and my thigh muscles were shaky.

Still, if I were to be suddenly rich I could also afford some riding pegs and a better seat. Both problems solved.

The ride was good for my soul. The wind howling past my helmet and the thrum of the engine between my legs. The smell of the wild grass beside the road, and the firm grip of the tires through each turn. All of it was exactly what I needed.

Venus HumAnd now, having had very poor sleep for the past two or three days (I’m honestly not sure how long it’s been) I feel I might actually be able to sleep by midnight tonight. I’m tempted to go to bed now, but I fear that would turn into just an hour nap and I’d be wide awake at midnight.

I’m going to put a few minutes into playing Halo instead. The original game is so familiar it’s practically like playing solitaire. In the meantime I’ve found Venus Hum’s last album and have been absorbing it as I write. So pretty.

3 hours of stalking while I can’t sleep

I find myself unable to sleep again tonight, consumed by fear and doubt, convinced of my imminent demise. Far too upset to sleep I got dressed (in yesterday’s clothes, no point in dirtying another set) and turned to the internet and Radio Paradise.

Radio Paradise is, more often than not, an excellent choice when I’m upset. It seems to know just exactly when I’m at my worst and hits me with a surprise favorite that perks me up. This morning it was Blue Man Group’s “I Feel Love” featuring Venus Hum. The song has many detractors in the Radio Paradise community. You can rate the tunes and comment on them, and they have a graph displaying the distribution of all the ratings from one to ten. “I Feel Love” (featuring Venus Hum) is rated at a 6.7 despite my sincere “9” rating. The distribution shows a lot of ones and twos and threes. There are people out there who clearly dislike the tune.

But I love it. Headphones are best, as with all my favorite tunes. And with all my favorite tunes the music takes me to a place of daydreams.

Tonight I had the urge to share the tune, even though I knew there’d be a lot of my own friends who simply wouldn’t “get it”. That’s the way it is with all my favorite tunes. They’re my favorites for reasons that don’t work for other people.

Digging through Youtube I found a recording of their live performance. I also found an official video, but for once the live version was better. I posted it and then proceeded to trip down the rabbit hole. I had no idea that “Venus Hum” was a band name, I’d always assumed it was the singer’s name. Youtube had a couple of suggestions for Venus Hum and I checked them out. Good music, and I wanted more.

I was cautious in my search, however. I know the “Feel Love” tune is old, I’ve had it for many years myself, and the video date was some time back in 2006. Doing a search on the band I found they’d formed in 1999. Typical. So much of my favorite stuff comes from the nineties and aughts. The wikipedia entry didn’t mention anything about the band, but it did say their last album release was in 2009. That depressed me a bit. Any band that hasn’t published something in over five years is generally defunct by default.

Then I let myself explore a bit of obsession with their singer, Anette Strean. In the BMG video she did not look anything like my imagination, but watching her on stage, and in Venus Hum’s other videos, I found her face incredibly familiar, and very appealing.

Something about the lips and the smile... and the glasses.

Something about the lips and the smile… and the glasses.

I cannot for the life of me figure out where I’ve seen her face before, but I swear I have. Not Anette Strean’s actual face, because I’ve never met her, but someone. My brain kept skipping on a loop of “she looks almost exactly like…” with that aching lack of conclusion. There was a strong connection somewhere up in my synapses but they refused to resolve in any one person.

Perhaps it’s connecting to some dream amalgam. My dreams, the good ones at least, present me with favorable people who, upon waking dissection, turn out to be an amalgam of multiple people. The women in my dreams especially, combining all the best qualities of my past friends, family, and lovers. Any adversaries in my dreams rarely need more than one person to create a suitable villain, but the nice ones are always very complex.

The face Annette presents has a feel like that, along with an old “high school crush” kind of attachment. So it’s quite possible the person she reminds me of is just someone I’ve forgotten, but it feels like it’s someone I would never forget.

With the obsession of a newborn stalker I did some searches on her. The Venus Hum website looks like it hasn’t updated since the release of their last album in 2009. I was briefly excited to discover she had a twitter account but was then crushed that she hadn’t posted since 2010. I regained the excitement when I found her facebook page. The latest update was from May but at least it was from this year. Reading her last post I find that she’s talking about how May is Mental Awareness Month and she talks a bit about her struggles with Bipolar disorder. She talks about how the diagnosis was both freeing and crushing. Crushing because it labeled her as broken (my paraphrasing) and freeing because at least she now had a point from which she could work and move forward.

I read of her struggles and looked at the photos she has of her family, her husband, and her daughter. I confess to feeling a bit uncomfortable seeing so much of her life without actually knowing her, but I reassured myself a bit with the knowledge that her facebook account was a personal one and what I was seeing was the few bits she made public. Which made me feel good because a surprisingly big part of me wanted to believe she was still posting tons of updates to her friends and family. I wanted to know she was still … existing.

And I’d really like to remember whom it is she reminds me so strongly of. Because it feels like that person might be important. Really important.

But that could just be my imagination building up a connection that isn’t even there. I’m feeling crazy enough as it is these days.

Be well, Annette Strean. I sincerely hope you’re going to make more music and I would love to hear it some day. Please continue to exist out there in the real world.

Angry, angry, always angry

I’m angry at everyone and surrounded by nothing.

I woke up last night after only two hours of sleep because I was dreaming of an ex ripping up my environment with no regard for my comfort or safety. Upon waking my mind rode the theme into a tirade of arguments both pointless and frustrating. I was left to lie awake, drifting fitfully in and out of increasingly negative daydream scenarios, until the persistent sunlight out my window convinced me I should just get out of bed and try to start my day.

I was tired enough that I had to consciously dictate terse commands to my conscious mind to get the most mundane things done. Undress. Shower. Shave head. Scrub Feet. Pick Socks. Pick Underwear. Choose a shirt. For fuck sake get dressed. No, put water in the pot WITH the eggs before you turn on the burner.

It’s exactly the kind of day I’d dread going to work, taking mental bets on just how many stupid mistakes I would make.

Luckily (sarcasm) I’m unemployed so I was able to take a much needed nap in the afternoon. That didn’t stop my brain from dredging up yet more nightmare scenarios.

Late in the afternoon I convinced myself I needed some chicken in order to give myself an excuse to get out of the house. I stopped off at a coffee shop for an hour to do some reading then continued on to the grocery store. I picked up my chicken and then noticed they had my favorite orange juice on sale. Loading my backpack with a couple of heavy jugs of juice I began carrying my bags home. I took a slightly wide route home to pick up some Pokestops on the way, grabbing the inevitable Zubats and Drowsies on the way. I guess I’m going to have to be hunting much further afield if I want to find anything else. Maybe some night when I can’t sleep I’ll take a trip to Prince’s Island Park.

As I stopped at one of the popular corners, the one with four Pokestops within a dozen steps of each other, I noticed an ex’s boyfriend sitting nearby playing too. Although he was probably playing Ingress. He loves that game so much.

I resisted a very real urge to walk up and punch him and, instead, walked along pretending to not see him. I was extremely disappointed see him there. I had thought he had moved away from they neighborhood to move closer to her and I was grateful to see him go. I was just walking past his building yesterday and sought out his balcony to reassure myself he was really gone. Then he goes and shows up on my virtual doorstep, as it were.

I did comment to her, many, many months ago, that he’d be miserable out in the middle of nowhere without his precious game to play. But he moved out there anyway. I guess he’s found an excuse to come back into town.

I really just want him … all of them… to stay away. I really prefer being lonely to facing these people again.

I attempted to vent my anger at a Pokemon gym on the way home, trashing it twice, when the game decided my frustration was high enough to cause it to lock up. I frequently do this with complicated electronics. If I’m stressed or frustrated beyond a certain point there’s a good chance whatever app I need to use will freeze up and need to be restarted.

Arriving home I put my groceries away, changed out of my sweat soaked shirt, and crashed for another nap. No more bad dreams, this time, just rest. And now I’m drinking water and doing my best to keep my laptop from locking up.

Maybe I’ll go back out tonight when I’ve cooled off.

Disappointing Superhero Movie

Just watched X-men: Apocalypse.

Very disappointing.

I know others have enjoyed this film, and I can see why. It’s pretty, it’s flashy, and it has some sexy women in it. Also some dramatic poses and primal screams.

Not much else, though.

Could have finished the movie in five minutes.

Could have finished the movie in five minutes.

There were so very many times I wound up looking away from the screen thinking to myself: “Why the hell don’t they just…” and getting increasingly frustrated as none of them do what is glaringly obvious.

The helicopter: While the field clearly prevented Jean and Nightcrawler from using their powers to affect things outside of it, there was absolutely no indication that the field would dampen power effects within itself. To wit: why didn’t Scott even try blasting out the side of the helicopter, thus freeing them from both the “field” and the helicopter at the same time. True, he might not have trusted his power to be contained enough to not injure and/or kill his partners, but they didn’t even consider it as an option.

And, man, I understand he’s supposed to be young, but is it written somewhere in the Marvel bible of Scott/Cyclops that he must always be whiny wimp despite wielding earth shattering power? There were SO. MANY. TIMES. He could have just opened his eyes and wiped the floor with everyone.

On the other end of the spectrum we have Apocalypse himself. To be fair this is the problem with any and all over-powered characters: There were so many times the fight should have been over before it even started. The other problem with him is that he doesn’t have a well defined set of powers. This leads to lazy writers giving up on any kind of rational progression and writing “Super over power dude just waves his hand and X happens.”

Like building his new temple with a wave of his hand. In the opening scenes of the far distant past it was clear that the pyramids had been built by mere mortal slaves. How do we know this? Because they were able to build a hideously over-complicated Rube Goldberg trap into it. Now, if he can build his temple with a wave of his hand in our time, why couldn’t he do that in the past? And before anyone argues that he was clearly aging and weak, might I remind you that building the actual temples by hand would have taken decades. He may have been old and weak when they finished, but he wouldn’t have been nearly so old when they began. He still could have done it himself.

And if his mind is so much stronger than Xavier’s, why does he need Xavier’s power? We’d already established that he was able to magnify Xavier’s power to let him reach everyone in the world. His mental giant fight with Xavier not only proved himself a stronger telepath, but one already able to amplify a telepath’s power.

And … and … and… so. Many. Things.

Beast is useless except as a handy pogo stick for those who can’t fly. Jean’s power release at the end (sorry, spoiler… no, not really, it was telegraphed in the trailer) was a vast departure from the comic book. Not just the trigger, but the level of power. Jean’s true power as the Pheonix is capable of roasting an entire planet, not just one wannabe god. If she truly let go then the middle east wouldn’t be damaged, it would be absent.

I think Apocalypse doesn't hire anyone competent out of a fear of competition.

I think Apocalypse doesn’t hire anyone competent out of a fear of competition.

Angel has always been the weakest character in the X-men line. His ability to fly is nearly redundant on the team. Half the team can fly IN ADDITION to their powers. I’ve always shaken my head at how far the writers have had to reach to make him relevant. Having him chosen as one of the horsemen just kills the whole intent of the horsemen. Literally any other mutant would have been a better choice. Hell, Jubilee jacked up to super ability would be devastating.

And, gosh, jacked up Magneto sure is impressive… for some reason that eludes me. “Go magnetize the world and make some pretty fractal patterns around the planet” doesn’t seem like much of a tactical move. It’s just a blatant excuse to use up your special effects budget.

“We’ve still got $20 Million for special effects. Should we include other characters?”
“Nah, just have Magneto throw a bunch of stuff around for no reason. That’ll use it up pretty quick and we won’t have to bother trying to write creatively.”

It all sucked. All of it. I’m sure it has a lot to do with my decades being a gamer but the “tactics” of the characters in this movie were worse than short sighted, they were deliberately blind. As you could see in the exploding building, Quicksilver was fast enough to have finished the movie in the first five minutes. Nightcrawler could have defeated the four “horsemen” within sixty seconds. And unless Apocalypse didn’t have any iron in his blood Magneto should have been able to defeat him in less time than it takes to write this sentence.

“Reach deep into the ground, find all the trace elements that you can throw around to destroy the earth… but don’t look at any of us and our blood. No, don’t do that. That would be pointless.”

I didn’t hate the movie, but by god there were a dozen or so moments where I was so embarrassed to be a fan that I was incredibly grateful I was watching it alone. I give it two very disappointed back issues out of five trade paperbacks.

Shadow and Jacquel

I’ve been re-reading American Gods because I’m looking forward to the TV show next year. I’m encountering some very interesting quotes. I’m thinking of making a collection.


“Back in my day, we had it all set up. You lined up when you died, and you’d answer for your evil deeds and for your good deeds, and if your evil deeds outweighed a feather, we’d feed your soul and your heart to Ammet, the Eater of Souls.”

“He must have eaten a lot of people. ”

“Not as many as you’d think. It was a really heavy feather. We had it made special. You had to be pretty damn evil to tip the scales on that baby.”


Busting ghosts and hunting critters

I went for a very long walk tonight. It started with a walk to Eau Claire. I wasn’t there to play Pokeman Go, but to finally see the new Ghostbusters. I chose a late night showing because I wanted a less crowded showing and because I haven’t been able to get motivated enough to leave my condo in time for a matinee. The 10pm showing at Eau Claire was perfect.

I enjoyed the movie, pretty much as I expected to. In fact I enjoyed it more than I expected. I particularly loved Holtzmann.

Erin Gilbert: What year is it?
Jillian Holtzmann: It’s 2040. Our president is a plant!

I also loved the new gadgets, particularly the power fist variant. I wholeheartedly agreed with Abby’s reaction to that one.

Abby's Proton Fist

Abby’s Proton Fist

There were only six or seven other people in the entire theater which allowed me to choose a position with lots of personal space. Oddly, it was almost too roomy. Quiet moments between advertisements had me self conscious of how loudly I was chewing my popcorn.

Every criticism I’ve read of the movie was reasonably accurate. Chris Helmsworth’s “Kevin” was a little over the top. While I understand the message, and the humor was there, it became a tired joke with overuse. The villain was as forgettable as the character complained himself to be. They played his dysfunction a little too realistically. The joyride with Slimer and his girlfriend was gratuitous and… meh.

But in general it was good, and I’ll see it again.

After the movie I did walk to the park and mingled with hundreds of people playing Pokeman Go. Everyone there appeared to be in their very late teens or early twenties. It was amusing to watch the herd occasionally stamped when someone shouted the name of what I assume was a rare Pokeman. I didn’t bother following the heard, though. I just did a few laps around the park, checking in at the various pokestops (of which there are many, of course) and picking up what Pokeman I encountered. I saw a few new variations, but then they’re all new to me. I have no idea if I picked up anything rare or not, although if the cost of evolving them is anything to go by then I imagine that floppy fish thing is fairly valuable.

Magikarp is my spirit animal

Magikarp is my spirit animal

Okay, I did my research and the flopping fish thing is called a Magikarp and it’s pretty much useless. Looks like it’s an inside joke.

When my phone battery hit 25% I started home, tagging the occasional pokestop on the way. When my phone warned me of low battery power I put it away and concentrated on walking.

I definitely walked more tonight that I have in the past couple of weeks. My feet are killing me and every joint from the hips down aches to some degree. All a consequence of my weight, of course. But it still felt good. Mostly.

Now that I’ve caught up on my internet and wolfed down a bowl of blackberries and vanilla greek yogurt, I think I’ll be heading to bed.

With this image keeping me company.

Holtzmann: lick it!

Holtzmann: lick it!