I really seem to be getting into this habit of going to see spinoffs of horror franchises with which I'm entirely unfamiliar. I think that the first was that "Ouija" prequel, a lovely period piece. The previous one I saw was something with a doll. And I just watched the new "Insidious" film, which is apparently the midpoint between the first film and the prequel to the main series.

But I'm realising that I'm rather glad for the existence of big, supernatural horror franchises. I don't generally go to see them when anything  I really like is on, but the mere fact of their openly ghostly existence sweetens my soul.

The movie gave me some skewed reminiscence of "Ghostbusters". Those guys were scientists who dressed like exterminators. The equivalents in this dressed like office workers and acted like office workers who've been trying to organise a jam band after work for the last few months.


Bonus Question!

Keaton vs Poindexter! Battle of the Busters!


I'm giving it to Keaton. He seems more acrobatic. Flippy stuff.


I’ve heard some rumours about a new Crocodile Dundee movie. I don’t really know if they’re true, but I can see how they might be. I think that it might have to do with the recent success of the Thor franchise, boosted primarily by “Ragnarok”. Those are basically Dundee movies. You take a handsome, rugged Australian. In the first movie, he’s guided through a land that’s strange to him by a lady who’s lovely to him. In the second, he’s the one who’s doing the guiding in his homeland. In the third, everyone goes to a place that’s entirely foreign to everyone. In “Ragnarok”, it was the alien world of Sakaar. In the Dundee film, it was Los Angeles.

So yeah. I’m thinking that the Dundee people noticed the mad craze Marvel was fermenting with the borrowed Crocodile style, and they decided to jump back on the wave they started in the 80s. And that last Thor movie looked like the 80s. That’s probably relevant too. Or whatever.


Bonus Question! 

Hulk versus a crocodile! Battle of the fierce green costars!


I mean . . . Hulk. Clearly, it's the Hulk. 



Actually Paddington

Colin Firth was the main  name I remembered from the first Paddington movie, but I'd forgotten that he was only the voice of the titular bear instead of a physical presence. When Hugh Grant popped up in the sequel, I thought, "Oh! A 'Love Actually' reunion. But where's Colin?" And that's when the revelation came. And with that I also learned that Firth was replaced by  Ben Whishaw in "Paddington 2". So. No reunion. But it was still a very warm and charming movie. Like "Love Actually".


It also had the best flamboyant prison musical routine since "Goldmember".


Bonus Question!

Phoenix Buchanan versus Count Olaf!

Battle of bad guys who scheme with flimsy disguises because of thwarted acting ambitions!

Well, the first guy's played by Hugh Grant, which would ordinarily make it a close contest against Jim Carrey's Olaf. And Neil Patrick Harris is good too. But his name's Phoenix Buchanan. He takes the win.

Minding the Mines

Delving through this mantled land,

An adept deft with crafty hand

Seeks new fortune by the morn

In riches from earth's bosom torn.

Digging deep into the ground

For any worth that can be found,

His squatty shape displays no wear

As he pursues his single care.

His pointed ear does bear no bead

Of sweat as soil his fingers knead.

His lumpen limbs make moves with grace

That life's denied his wizened face.

His nose is sharp enough to aid

The pick he wields to ply his trade.

But time and toil could never fray

The winsome glint his eyes display.

Droid Sauce

Shortly after going to see "Last Jedi", I decided on another viewing of "Attack of the Clones", my favourite of the saga, and it gave me a new insight into C-3PO's vanity. I think that the fellow has a touch of ugly duckling syndrome. The dude began life in a junkyard as a nearly naked mess of exposed wires with a modicum of scrap plating. After a decade outside of slave life, he's decently covered at least, but he's stuck with a dull, tarnished coal grey. When he gets a makeover after joining up with the Republic, he's got the shiniest golden plating a droid ever had. But he's not going to forget his humble beginnings. That's got to inform his personality even after a memory wipe.

On another note, I recently learned that the sauce on A&W’s Grandpa Burger isn’t called Grandpa Sauce or something. It’s Teen Sauce. I don’t know if that’s also what’s on the Teen Burger, but I’m struck by the implication that it’s in the natural course of things for the elderly to feed on the essence of the young.


Bonus Question!

Robert Plant versus Threepio! Battle of the golden gods!

Plant's got a divine voice, but Threepio convinced a whole tribe of Ewoks to adjust their dietary habits in order to prevent the consumption of his friends, which does seem like a pretty godly deed.

Jedi Camp

Alright. So. I'm just going to say one thing about "The Last Jedi". Then I might say another? I don't know. We're not there yet. Right now, it's this one thing. If you haven't seen it, it might not even make sense, but you can make your own reading choices.


That thing Luke almost did in his flashbacks to Jedi camp counsellor days? He could have played that off. I've been to camp. I've woken up to weird pranks and strategems. He could just say, "Hey, friendo! Impromptu training exercise! Let's go snipe hunting!"

Or whatever the Star Wars equivalent of a snipe is. "Snipe" already sounds like a Star Wars bird.


Bonus Question!

Best Star Wars  bird?


I basically have to go with the porg, don't I?

It's 2018. Be the Jaymes You Want to See in the World.

2017 was  a weird year. This was largely because it was a year, and years are weird.

Nevertheless, "The Last Jedi" felt like a decent cap to it, and one of its central messages made it especially fitting for the purpose. Specifically, the one against reliance on idols.

I liked how this was delivered, for the movie didn't decry them outright. It  showed their potential for disappointment, but it also emphasised the need to move beyond that disappointment.

This year will be remembered in the minds of many as one in which several cultural beacons were irredeemably tarnished by the light shone upon their indiscretions. These luminaries meant much to their fans, and now those fans are left with a mess of feelings they never expected when they gave their hearts to ostensibly infallible heroes.

But heroes are no less fallible than anyone else. Open your heart to them. Sure. Of course. But don't give it away to anything. Own your heart. You're the only one who'll always be there to protect it. And if the people who've touched it turn out to be less than what you thought, the choice to move forward rests solely with you.

Did Joss Whedon speak to your soul? Were your feminist ideals kindled by the fiery panache displayed by Buffy and her ilk? Or even the stated beliefs of her creator? Great. Nothing can take that away. Joss is hardly the first teacher who failed to live up to his lessons. It doesn't diminish those lessons.

I've always been one to celebrate art even if the artist isn't personally deserving of esteem. Now I'll say that what an artist meant to fans who knew him before some dark revelation can survive afterwards. If you were inspired by your love for Joss or anyone else, you can keep that inspiration even when that love is brought down. Joss's philandering doesn't detract from what he taught you. It just gives you a chance to show that you learned it better than he did. As Yoda said, a teacher can  be something for a student to move beyond. Every experience is a lesson, and you get to choose what you learn from it.

Like Hollywood, the Jedi  Order's an institution that means many things to many people, but it's also made up of people, meaning that it's prone to foibles just like its followers. Its mistakes might shake it up, but its strengths persist, and it's up to the individual to do a better job of carrying those strengths forward. That's some of what I got from the movie. Don't worry about tearing stuff down. Take what you need and build something from it for yourself.


Bonus Question!

Grandmaster versus Supreme Leader! Who wore it better?


Giving it up to the G man. Dude can accessorize.

Also colour blocking. Also Jeff Goldblum.


Papa Mia


So. "Father Figures" was basically "Mamma Mia!" with the central role taken by two dudes instead of one woman, which at least maintains the number of starring X chromosomes.


At first, I was glad to see Owen Wilson in one of his classic puckish roles again. There seemed to be a period that focused more on the self-doubt and less on the levity. In fairness, both are key ingredients in the Owen Wilson recipe, but the ratio seemed off for a while. The same thing happens to Spider-Man sometimes.


Then I remembered that I haven't seen him anywhere in a while. Apart from the Ben Stiller Zoolander sequel. And he was definitely spirited in that. But that was a while ago, wasn't it? Whatever. 'Twas a good appetiser to what must surely be a new era of ecstatic Owen Wilson antics. And the legendary finale of the "Shanghai Noon" trilogy may finally be brought to light? Truly, the omens smile.


Bonus Question!


Owen Wilson versus Chris Tucker! Battle of the Chan buddies!


In a gunfight? Tucker. Barely.

In karaoke? Tucker. Barely.

In a race? Wilson. Barely.


They're very evenly matched. They're like different cultures' versions of the same god. It's like a battle between Bacchus and Dionysus.

Darth Agita


December 14th, 2017. A momentous date for two clear reasons. It saw the release of “The Last Jedi” and the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality at the hands of Ajit Pai.

 I cannot be the only one who thinks that “Ajit Pai” sounds like the name of an ancient Sith Lord. 


Bonus Question! 

Jedi versus Sith! What's your philosophy? 

The Jedi way's about stoicism. Not for me.  The Sith fuel their magic with emotion. It's basically Space Romanticism. They just tend to choose the worst emotions and fall into Dark Side nonsense. But their core ethos has merit.



Healthful Hibernal Happenings

Am I the only one who always felt more comfortable with saying "happy holidays" because even the most myopic members of the old monoculture tend to make a big deal about New Year's Eve around the same time? That's how it felt to me at school. At bare minimum, holiday break had to include Christmas and New Year's Eve. Two holidays. And I wasn't even aware of the added American emphasis on Thanksgiving, which gets lumped in with those two in the States. Even if you outlaw all other religious observances for the whole winter, you're still celebrating multiple holidays. It's even in that carol! "And a happy new year!" But no one's going to add a whole extra clause after "merry Christmas" in casual speech to convey that. "Happy holidays" does the job with minimal effort. It's the verbal equivalent of  a turducken. It's just had weaker marketing.

Bonus Question!

Turducken versus chimera! Who wins?

The obvious choice is the chimera. However, its only traditional component animal with significant aquatic capability is a snake, which only forms the tail. And it's usually the head of the snake that does it. In the case of the turducken, that middle element, justly honoured by the inclusion of its full name in the portmanteau, might be enough to bring out a win if its opponent can be lured into the water.


Rocking Rampage

Will the Dwayne Johnson "Rampage" film be able to overcome the video game movie curse?



That's the question people are asking. In fact, they should be asking "Will 'Rampage' be able to overcome the Dwayne Johnson movie curse?" Which is of course the curse whereby his movies can't avoid making unwieldy piles of glowing coin. It's one of those deceptively desirable curses. Like vampirism! You get to live forever without having to learn how to cook. That's the dream, isn't it?


Bonus Question!

Is the video game curse really a thing, though?


It really can't be  a thing. I think that some people believe that it's a thing, which is why bad decisions often get made in production, including the attachment of less adept staff to the projects. But they're just adaptations of concepts. The original medium doesn't actually impart any unique problems. Also, a few have actually been serviceable action movies which seem to be thrown into the stink end of the pool because it's easier to put them among their truly wretched brethren. Like "Tomb Raider" and "Prince of Persia". Those really stand out as examples that should be enjoyable to anyone who just wants a light explosive romp without any glaring issues. And one even has the prestige of a tying in to  a U2 music video, which is probably close to the musical equivalent of featuring Dwayne Johnson.


"Elevation" is still probably my favourite U2 song. Why do you ask? We just did the bonus question.

Lobo League

I saw "Justice League".

I liked how their ship was a whale.

Also, while I don't understand why Flash's costume is the least sleek of all of them, I do like the change to blue lightning. It's my preferred flavour of lightning, and its a refreshing change from his traditional yellow. This guy's not exactly a traditional Flash anyhow.


On that note, Momoa's definitely not a traditional Aquaman. Again, totally fine. I'm all up for divergent interpretations. But this one feels weird mainly because his untradtional Aquaman felt exactly like a very traditional Lobo. To the point where I wonder why they didn't just make him Lobo. Lobo's even a member of one Justice League in the comics right now. Who's really going to care if you find and replace every instance of "Aquaman" in the script with "Lobo"? And maybe there's less swimming. And Lobo probably wouldn't wear those thick wool sweaters? Maybe that would make it a less traditional Justice League. But that ship sailed a long time ago, and Aquaman was never going to call in some whales to save it.

Anyway, I saw it in a fairly empty IMAX theatre, but I still heard at least one person try to clap at the end, which seemed sweet.


Bonus Question!

Superhero most comfortable in thick wool sweaters?

Captain Brian.




Apparently, some Navy pilot got in trouble for drawing a penis in the sky with his plane. Which sounds like the Mad Libs version of a Beatles song when I put it like that. But the picture makes me doubt that intent.



Tell me that that's not the Arby's logo. 



This whole ordeal seems like the setup for an Arby's television advertisement. Then at the end of the commercial, the pilot's commanding officer shouts, "Damn it, cadet, what in Sam's blazes were you thinking with your hot shot dick drawing?"

"Honestly, sir? I'm thinking Arby's."


Bonus Question! 

What are you thinking? 

I'm thinking that Arby's might have had something to do with my erstwhile belief that Harvey's was an American franchise. 


On another note, I just saw the picture of Jude Law's Albus for the new Harry Potter movie, and I've got to say that he makes one winsome wizard. And this is coming from a dude who was first exposed to him when he played a robot gigolo. 





Marvel's comics were my entrance to the entire comic book world, but Brian Michael Bendis was the writer who eventually made me care about writers. When I realised the effect his cadence had on my reading experience, I began to look at the names of the creators on comic covers instead of focusing solely on the titles. Before that, credits were gibberish. His Ultimate Peter Parker was the first version I'd read with a real appeal to me. The period after I picked up that random issue near the start of Bendis's epic run caused a minor vexation in my best friend, who briefly felt that I was attempting to usurp his fixation on Spidey instead of staying in my own little X-Men realm.

I'm actually quite excited to see a DC book by Bendis now, but it'd be even better if it didn't mean the end of his Marvel work. Exclusivity's an emetic, man.


Bonus Question!

What effect has Brian Bendis had on your life outside of comics?

He provoked an interest in David Mamet, which is why I've seen "Glengarry Glen Ross".

Thortal Kombat

I haven't been to a Thursday release in ages, but this one felt etymologically appropriate.

Also, BlizzCon fell on the following day. It made sense to get "Ragnarok" out of the way ahead of that.


I will say this. The absence of Kat Dennings was not thoroughly unnoticeable. There was always a part of me that thought that she and Loki would make a cute couple. Oh, well. If one has to choose between her and Jeff Goldblum, there's really no wrong move. Actually, he and Loki would make a cute couple too. But maybe throw in Kat Dennings too. Because why not?


But yeah. A fine film. It follows in the grand tradition of swaggering gladiatorial adventures featuring jovial thunder gods.


I love that tradition.


Bonus Question!

Thor and Loki versus Raiden and Shao Kahn! Battle of brotherly bonds!


Thor and Loki have had their issues, but there is some love in that mess. I'm not so sure about the other pair. Got to give it to the Asgardians. And one of them is even adopted! Bonus point for bloodless love.

All Horrors

I recall feeling some anxiety about the placement of Halloween in a week during childhood. Whenever it seemed far removed from the weekend, I'd get twinges of despair at the thought of all the Halloweens that could fall on school nights.


But I've come to realise that the adult world just decided to work around that. Halloween's tacitly agreed to be whatever the last Saturday in October happens to be. Friday if you're nasty.


Bonus Question!


The new season of "American Horror Story". In large part because of Evan Peters. He's a fun dude to watch. I first saw him in that X-Men movie wherein he played Quicksilver. In one iteration of the comic universe, that guy had some incestuous subtext with his twin sister Scarlet Witch. It later turned into text right around the time at which that particular universe basically went to hell. Death. Mass destruction. That whole deal. But more than usual.

Scarlet Witch wasn't even a presence in the X-Men movies, but in "Horror Story", Peters does have a sister, and they do have some incestuous subtext that develops into text. Nice bit of symmetry?

Gifted and Giving

I was watching "The Gifted" and musing about the decision to use the Strucker name for the main family. In the Marvel comics that serve as loose basis for the show, the name is owned by an old Nazi ally and his children, Andreas and Andrea. Like the show's Strucker kids, they're mutants. But the show's quite free of Nazis. These televised Struckers are just basic, affluent suburbanites. But then they turn out to be suburbanites whose genetic makeup exposes them to a world outside their sheltered existence. And this is a world against which their father's profession places him in direct opposition.


Unlike previous antagonists to Marvel's mutants, like the similarly named Stryker, the Strucker patriarch seems to hold little in the way of ideological hatred for the mutant race. He's just doing his job. A job that happens to involve persecution of  an underprivileged minority.
Incidentally, the Strucker siblings of the comics did eventually realise that wallowing in their socioeconomic superiority to the detriment of the rest of the world wasn't really the way to go, and they made some attempt to get out and do some good. The show's kids seem to be on a similar path.

So. This show. It's like "X-Men" without X-Men. It also features Nazi descendants without any actual hint of Nazism. But as the themes the X-Men characters bring don't require a team by that name to be present, the show does a fairly elegant job of displaying the deleterious effect of a chauvinist worldview in the absence of any organisation that explicitly espouses it.
Basically, we get to see the X-Men fight Hydra on television without a whole mess of rights issues.


Bonus Question!

Is "Nightmare Before Christmas" a Halloween film or a Christmas one?
Since its plot revolves around the protagonist's journey to understand the meaning of Christmas, I've always taken the latter position. But in its country of origin, I could see a compromise. It starts at Halloween and goes towards Christmas. Maybe that makes it an ideal Thanksgiving movie. That's a pretty underserved market.

Future Trailers

 "Blade Runner"! That's back in theatres. Remember those big Atari advertisements from the first one? It was made in 1982 when Atari was still a big thing, but it was set in 2019. The intervening years saw the gaming company drift out of relevance and onto nostalgic tees. But now they're making noise again. They're making a big push with a  new console. And maybe some other things? I don't know. I don't follow too closely. But it makes me wonder. Did they see the looming "Blade Runner" sequel, remember the chronological setting of the first one, and enact a plan to reach the level of prominence the film depicted them with by the real world's 2019?


Bonus Question!

What other movies have you seen recently?

In terms of the physical vessels of movies, I walked by a store and saw some VHS tapes of things that were released after I thought that VHS tapes stopped being a thing.



A Harry Potter movie and the first season of "Ugly Betty"?


That new Inhumans show is around, and it's made me think about Crystal's hair.


In the comics, its distinctive patterning is never really explained. Her sister Medusa's hair gets all the attention. She can pick things up with it! It's alive! Maybe Maximus likes to sing. But no one would talk about it because brother Black Bolt's voice gets all the attention.


But now I have theories. Not about Maximus. I'm pretty sure that he does a fair amount of singing to himself on the countless occasions wherein he's locked up in solitary confinement for being a mad hazard to Inhuman society.


But about Crystal's hair. With her elemental control, she's immensely potent. In terms of raw power, she's arguably at the top of the royal family.  I'm excepting Black Bolt here because the uncontrollable destruction his vocalisations cause prevents him from utilising his mutation in most circumstances.


But Crystal's basically the Avatar

with a slightly greater focus on atomic manipulation of the elements she wields. She's also less disciplined than some of her peers, explaining the martial primacy of less innately gifted Inhumans like Gorgon and Karnak. All of this brings me to my theory. In addition to the classical quartet of earth, fire, water, and air, I wonder if hair is her fifth element. On a subconscious level she's never really explored. She seems less occupied with constant training and honing than those around her, which means that the deeper implications of her Inhuman talents may be unnoticed and inadequately developed. That might include control over the atoms of her hair in a way that could even exceed the skills of the famously coifed Medusa if Crystal gave herself the chance to delve into her potential. But she doesn't. With no knowledge of this follicular aspect to her power set, Crystal's limited to unconsciously manifesting it through the formation of oddly defined patterns of colour on her hair.


Bonus Question! 

If Crystal were the Avatar, which culture would she originate from?

The Fire Nation would be the easiest fit. She could still be the lordly daughter with no real interest in the throne. She could even keep Medusa with her.  They'd probably be a better team in the eyes of the rest of the world than the sisters who actually ruled the Fire Nation.


And if we want to go further, Karnak's an Air Nomad and Gorgon's of the Earth Kingdom. And if those didn't seem obvious enough, Triton would have an amazing time with the Water Tribe. 

Hat Heads

Guns N' Roses. They are a good group. They've produced music I enjoy. "Welcome to the Jungle"? Yeah, man. That's a jam and a half.

But one thing continually bemuses me. That first album cover. Quite memorable. It features a collection of skulls that's meant to signify skeletal versions of the band members' various visages. And it generally works like that. You see Slash's skull in his gear, and you know. To this day, he's that dude with frizzy hair under a top hat. But Axl? When does he ever wear that cap again? It's never seemed to be a part of his look. Even the teased hair he  copied from that Scandinavian dude from Hanoi Rocks in a few videos is more emblematic of his style than that cap. I can only imagine that he got it over the weekend right before he commissioned the design and became obsessed with it. He thought that he'd wear it for the rest of his life and become inextricably associated with it. Like Slash with his hat!

And then he lost his passion for it after a few weeks.

Yet the sigil remains.


Bonus Question!

Best skull in a top hat?

Baron Samedi.



Copyright © 2011, Jaymes Buckman and David Aaron Cohen. All rights reserved. In a good way.