Hot Apollo

Toronto's Shiniest Rock-and-Roll Band

Feeling The Beets

I've been watching "Doug" for the last bunch of weeks. I never really watched it in childhood, but it's basically my current  breakfast cartoon. From the start, I was liking the music of the fictional band that plays a side role in the show. I can get quite fixated on fictional music. It really does tend to be pretty good. As I'm writing this, I'm wondering if it's in part because the writers generally only have to make a few songs instead of composing albums at a time? Easier to be consistent in low amounts? And there's also there's also the idea that the songs can  often be distillations of a style instead of examples of it. Devo even said that Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" was the best Devo song, and I adored that tune before I'd even heard of Devo. That's not exactly the same thing, but it does do a bit to reinforce my thinking here.

Anyway, the band in "Doug" is The Beets, and they basically seem like what The Beatles would be if they were of the early 90s instead of the 60s. I was vaguely aware of some music videos that had been produced for some of their songs, but I didn't even look for their music on iTunes. I didn't want to be disappointed again by being unable to find the ability to easily add obscure musical ephemera to my library. But something prompted me to search for them on there for the first time yesterday. For their main song at least. And I found it! And others! And now my phone's singing them along to what my mind probably would have sung anyway.

Good stuff.

Also. Does the cast remind anyone else of the Archie gang? Doug's the leading everyman, Skeeter's the eccentric best friend with the weird name like Jughead, and Roger's the annoying Reggie analogue with his dark jacket bully style. He even has a similar name, and he came into a similar level of wealth too.

Mr. Bone and Weatherbee would probably get along fairly well too, though their similarities end with their managerial methods.

 

Bonus Question!

Best fictional song?

Many good ones! But I've really been listening to a lot of Austin Powers's BBC song in recent months.

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What If Batteries But Too Much?

 

I just had a "Black Mirror" dream, and I've never even seen "Black Mirror". But it legitimately shook me when I woke up.

I got back later than I should have from a movie. In the dream. All of my electronic devices seemed to be unable to turn on. Upon inspection, their batteries had been removed. Somehow, this even included what appeared to be my iPhone's power cells. I went upstairs to see my mother and brother dozing in the kitchen, chewing on the pilfered batteries in the throes of addiction.

 

This probably isn't actually scary, but it unsettled me primarily because I can't really imagine my mother in such a state. Replace those batteries with heroin or anything else. Seeing her enthralled like that would mean that something had gone fundamentally wrong in the workings of the universe.

 

But actually, this is probably closer to a version of "Black Mirror" from the Eighties. At the latest. What era wrung its hands with warnings about the perilously alluring dangers of alternating current?

 

Bonus Question!

Well?

Actually, I'm pretty sure that Edison really did try to discredit Tesla by scaring people into the belief that alternating current was inherently destructive. I don't have definite details, but I think that elephant death was prominently involved.

Tinder Tool

Tinder, right? I gave that a try. Shortly after I did, I got matched with someone who immediately messaged me to ask if I was the one who sang that Tool cover at a specific downtown bar eight years ago. That was around the time of the first show I played there, but I don't do covers, and I doubt that I like Tool. I told her that, and then she enthusiastically realised that she did in fact recognise me from one of the shows I'd played more recently at a different downtown bar. She followed that up with a statement of apathy about my band's sound. That doesn't happen very often, but I told her that I appreciated her honesty, saying that distaste for my art didn't preclude getting to know each other on a personal level. It feels like the mature thing to do, doesn't it? Then when I looked back, we were unmatched. First actual experience of being unmatched. But honestly, I feel worse about the idea that she thought that I was the type of guy who'd sing a Tool song.

 

Bonus Question!

Best tool song? 

Queen's "Hammer to Fall". 

 

Shatterstyle

I still remember this one X-Force comic my brother had from the 90s. I couldn't see anyone on the cover who looked that good to me. Part of that was the rough, hypertrophic art style. Part of it was the grotesque sin against style in the form of Shatterstar's facial buttress. It's as though he looked at Gambit and thought "Hey! That guy's pretty cool. I should take the basic outline of his head gear and give it the colour and puffiness of a marshmallow!"

But then I came across him much later in Peter David's noirish detective version of X-Factor, and Shat was rocking a kind of Annie Lennox look. That helped to endear him to me.

Seeing him in "Deadpool 2" was the reverse of that.


Bonus Question!

Best Annie Lennox look in comics?

Neil Gaiman's Desire is probably the classic choice, but I'm in a mood to favour Rachel Grey from 80s Excalibur.

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Disco Dance Shatner Battle

I had a disco dream. It was one of those battling ones. An intense dance competition. The stuff of legends. Or movies from the 80s at least. Also, much of the supposed dancing seemed to involve knee slides across floors with the frictional level of ice. But that probably just made it more intense. And my opponent was a 70s version of William Shatner that never existed. Like . . . He had the hirsuteness of David Hasselhoff in his prime. He was slightly burlier, for this was Shat was  somewhat beyond the baby face mode of the Kirk years, but the man could still move. In a way that the actual William probably never could? This man was fictional to a high degree. He seemed like a good fellow, though. We had some laughs after I won. Close game.


Bonus Question!

Any version of Shatner versus any version of Hasselhoff in a disco dance battle?


Probably Hoff.

On a Rampage!

The movie "Rampage" didn't cleave too closely to the game that inspired it, though it still managed to serve slightly better as an adaptation of that than it did as a music video to Strong Bad and Coach Z's hit song of the same name. But that's another thing I'd like to see.


I did like the change to white fur for George, though. The brown gorilla of the games often seemed rather dull beside the giant werewolf and the lady lizard monster. And this movie gave that lizard frills, which is a look I've loved on reptiles since I first saw that dinosaur spit poison in Newman's face in "Jurassic Park". I even had some sort of companion book in which that choice was explained. Basically, it was just for the aesthetics. And that's a classic reason to add frills to anything.


I do think that Jeffrey Dean Morgan would have served better as the wolf, though. Dude's wasted in a suit, though that accent he affected was delightful anyway.


Oh. But the indistinct military radio voices were right on point with the source material. Points for that.


And this film gave me a mildly preferable taste of what "San Andreas" probably was, which was a Dwayne Johnson movie I eventually decided to skip. Though I probably see a fair amount of disasters in the cinema, I don't really like stories that are just about disasters. "Rampage" at least  had added monsters.


So yeah. It's whatever. A whimsical game about humans that got chemically mutated into big animals was adapted into a slightly mundane disaster movie about big animals that got chemically mutated into bigger animals. But still. Imagine Gorilla Dwayne Johnson and Werewolf Dean Morgan. I'm still up for that.


Bonus Question!


Best line?


Mr Rock answers the giant gorilla's growled question with "That's right. Let's kick some ass."


That would have been my definite answer, but the line that came from his mouth right after was "Of course the wolf flies." So . .  . You decide.

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Finally Ready

I watched "Ready Player One" on the weekend. I think that it's the second thing I've seen Tye Sheridan in after "X-Men: Apocalypse", and it continues the trend of giving him a fixation on an awkward but headstrong girl with red hair and putting the dude in a visor. Apparently, some faces are just made for visors? I don't know. Maybe mine is made for eyeliner. I haven't had a day of bare lids in years.

So yeah. In a movie that was apparently going to drown the audience in explicit references to popular culture from the 80s, I was mainly thinking about its unintentional resonance with X-Men. But then I'm often thinking about X-Men.


Bonus Question!

Tye Sheridan versus a Sheraton Hotel!

Though he checked in slightly late, he still managed to get a decent sleep and wake up in time to get in most of an hour with the complimentary breakfast buffet.

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Check out that visor face. 

Infinity War Thoughts (Probably Without Big Spoilers on the Main)

Most Marvel movies feel like trade paperbacks. "Infinty War" felt like the first volume of an omnibus.

When "Iron Man" came out in theatres a decade ago, I went back to watch the credit scene I'd missed in my first viewing because I wasn't sure if I'd get another chance to see Sam Jackson play the version of  Nick Fury that was based on him in the Ultimate Marvel comics I'd read. And  now . . . 

Does Thor always seem to get the worst side quests in these movies? In "Age of Ultron", he had to go on some meditative vision quest, and in this he spends a chunk of time on fixing a smithy. I'm reminded of the Knuckles segments of "Sonic Adventure" where you'd have to take a break from romping around the world with the blue hedgehog to play a sluggish hot-cold game in a hunt for Chaos Emeralds. For all the atrocities Thanos committed to find his own magic gems, at least he didn't have to do that.

Still, the thing that seemed to bother him most was what he did for the Soul Stone. What the dude really needed was a soul patch. Something to take some of the attention away from that chin.


Bonus Question!

Hawkeye versus Ant-Man! Battle of the absentee Avengers! Who are also the only two fathers!

Ant-Man probably wins in anything  but familial stability.

Perspective Narratives

I tend to view reality through a narrative lens. Sometimes life feels like a movie. Sometimes it's closer to a myth or  a novel. It differs. Life's capricious. Or I am.

But if I had to choose one medium to represent my life, I'd probably go with a superhero comic. For one thing, they excel at being outrageously bombastic without budgetary concerns. Also, they tend to dwell in an eternal second act, which is how life can feel. The end isn't in sight. I've had my origin. I'm a definitive version of myself. I can develop, but I won't ever be developed. I'm just continuing on in my dramatic way. Individual story arcs can get wrapped up, and victories will be had, but there doesn't seem to be an ultimate resolution.

 

Bonus Question!

Best lens?

 

Because I usually just wear sunglasses when I want to keep weather out of my eyes, I have very light lenses, but they have a ruby kind of tint to make them gorgeous.

Temporal Wrinkles

The first thing to strike me about "A Wrinkle in Time" when I read it in fifth grade was the majestic winged centaur on the cover. After much anticipation, that marvelous image turned out to be naught but a momentary transformation of Whatsit. But I was already enjoying the book by that point.

The film didn't even show that brief appearance of the centaur, but it compensated by throwing full effort into Oprah's makeup. All the glitter. Maximum sparkle. And if I'm honest, that's at least as meaningful to me as a winged centaur at this point in my life.


Bonus Question!

Best centaur?

Cenarius!

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Warping Back to Thornberry Time

I've been watching "The Wild Thornberrys" recently, which was one of the classic Nickelodeon shows I didn't see when it was current. It's about this eccentric nature documentarian voiced by Tim Curry and his family, including an adopted feral child and a daughter who can talk to animals. Her pet is a monkey named Darwin, who's an effete English gentleman by nature. I watched 30 episodes before I realised that the rest of the family doesn't know that the girl, Eliza, can talk to animals. On some level, I also thought that Darwin was the one animal everyone understood for some reason. But no. Completely wrong. This whole deal was only revealed to me because of an episode in which Eliza's sister almost discovers her secret. But hey. Things could change. Maybe the movie'll shake things up. I'll find out. But now I'm prepared.

 

Bonus Question!

 

What kind of berries does Chaucer like to eat?

Canter! 

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Watchability on Both Sides of the Pond

  My main draw for seeing "Sherlock Gnomes" was James McAvoy. Dude is eminently watchable. And I'd made the mistake of skipping "Gnomeo and Juliet" during its theatrical run. But I knew nothing else. Then I got in and discovered that Johnny Depp was Sherlock. My whimsy's now doubly justified. In terms of watchability, he's right up there with McAvoy. Just less British. Although maybe he's trying to be that too.

Also, the soundtrack seemed to be  built around Elton John. That's usually a good portent for animated movies. Just ask "The Lion King". Oh, wait. You can't. Because it's too untouchably successful and awesome to hear you. You should probably just see "Sherlock Gnomes" and find out for yourself.

 

Bonus Question!

Hobbits versus gnomes!

Baggins > gnomes > non-Baggins hobbits

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Gnome boy. 

Oh, Mens!

I was noticing David Tennant in the third season of "Broadchurch", and I immediately thought that he looked like a more effete version of Hugh Jackman. But then I revised my thought after remembering the young Hugh of the "Kate and Leopold" era. Before he got all tough and chewy after the first X-Men movie. And then I thought that Tennant actually looked like a more masculine version of that iteration of Hugh Jackman. And I think that this is the only scenario in which I'll be able to say that Tennant beats Jackman in machismo.

 

 

This was also the day on which I saw a picture of Dave in "Good Omens". He might have looked uncharacterisically hirsute in this "Broadchurch" season, but in "Good Omens" he just looks uncharacteristic of himself. Which is fine. I've just never seen that degree of aesthetic breadth from him before. It's especially surprising in this instance because the look of the role he's playing in "Good Omens" could easily have been achieved  by throwing a pair of sunglasses on any of the people he's portrayed before. But hey. A different take's good too.

 

 

Bonus Question!

 

If more sexual positions had numerical designations, would 69 still be such a popular number?

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Pawsome Claws

I've got to say that "Black Panther" did a superb job of elevating Everett Ross from his negligible presence in "Civil War". I don't think that I even had time to realise that Martin Freeman was doing an American accent in that fim. But here he felt far closer to the "Spin City" kind of guy he was originally under the pen of Christopher Priest. Michael J. Fox didn't play him, but that's just another one of those missed opportunities that's largely down to timing. Like Vincent Price and Doctor Strange. And that still worked out decently.


And seeing warriors on top of chasing cars in busy nighttime streets brought me right back to classic Priest pages too. That's always been the Panther stuff that's gotten to me. I can appreciate the objective worth of other takes on the character, but Priest just has a way of hitting me from the right angle. Right now, he's making Deathstroke's comic into one of my favourite books from DC, which came as a surprise to me. Deathstroke and Panther are on similar levels to me because their tones generally tend towards the serious, and a bit of levity is an ingredient I prefer to have in my comics. But Priest always manages to find a way of balancing things in whatever he writes.


The other  surprise in his Deathstroke run was the inclusion of a dude who's basically an immoral Black Panther. "Red Lion" or something. I do enjoy the consistency of Priest's  tastes. He's still doing that whole "Frasier" thing of white-on-black cue cards for scene changes too. Even when Deathstroke's feeling pretty grim, that boosts the mood.


Beyond the bits of Priest flavouring, the Kirby influence on Wakanda's structure and ambience struck me too.


The influence of Jordan's anime appreciation on Killmonger's first costume was a good touch, and modeling it after Vegeta makes decent sense analogically. But the fact that he eventually turned into a golden version of Black Panther was what cinched it for me. Shininess and feline styling! Two of my favourite things!


Overall, it was easily the most solemn of the Marvel movies, which isn't to my tastes, but it probably ranks among the more stylish episodes, and that wins some points right back.

A case could probably be made for its supremacy in sheer elegance.


One last thing about Martin Freeman. His outfit in the climax really made me think that he'd be a great Moff or something in Star Wars. He really hit that aesthetic hard there. It was probably unintentional, but it did coincide with his piloting of a futuristic laser ship. So.


Bonus Question!


"Black Panther" versus "Thor: Ragnarok"!


Best mystic patriarchal conversation  against a greenscreen homeland!


T'Challa's talks with his father were pretty poignant and evocative enough of "The Lion King", but I preferred the jauntiness of Odin's cavalier farewell to his bickering sons in some random Scandinavian field.

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Like a Cat Out of Hell

Apart from the first season of "Daredevil", "Jessica Jones" feels to me like the tightest of the Netflix Marvel shows. Before I started this season, I wondered about the extent to which I'd miss David Tennant, but the increased development of the supporting cast quickly made that irrelevant. The particular focus on Trish could probably have done that by itself. She's not that much better adjusted than Jess, but her flaws are displayed in a subtler way that allows her to flaunt her joyous side more often, which is essentially an inversion of Jessica's personal makeup. Double-J blazons her face with her issues and makes you work for any glimpse of optimism. The pair of them really go deep on the whole yin-yang dynamic, and they don't forget to include the two little dots.


For a while, I thought that Trish's role could only be improved with a bit of actual Hellcat action, but then things started to veer in that direction too.
ObutalsoJeri. I'm relishing the relentlessness with which she's written, and Carrie-Anne Moss's portrayal is executed with precision. I said that I enjoyed seeing the emphasis on Trish, but Jeryn Hogarth basically got her own independent and viscerally compelling story, and that really grabbed me. I seem to recall hearing some calls for a Night Nurse series about Claire Temple at some point, but I'd honestly prefer it if Jeri gradually just took over all the shows.


Bonus Question!


Purple Man versus Indigo Girls!

Battle for the cool side of the colour wheel!


The Purple Man definitely has significant psionic powers, but the Girls are wily. And they've got the numerical advantage. They get the win. Because why not.

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The Latest Aardman

I knew even less about "Early Man" than I often do about a lot of movies I see. I'd barely looked at the poster. Still, an animated comedy about cavemen seemed like the sort of thing I'd see. But that brief glimpse I'd seen made me think that it was the standard digital animation. But no! When I got in, I discovered that it's from the same dudes who made "Wallace and Gromit", that timeless series that filled my childhood eyes at the gleeful direction of my father.


Like that show, the film featured some absurd inventions, though here it was less timely and more practical. A technological competiton between Wallace and the anachronistic antagonists of "Early Man" would probably be this week's bonus question, but I don't have an answer for it that isn't weighted by narrative necessity. I do think that "Early Man" has better fashion, though. It has cavemen with stylish animal prints and overlords with velvet and jewels. And birds in armour! With plumed helmets! That's bonus plumage!


On the other hand, Wallace, like the parent who introduced me to him,  just isn't willing to be properly clad.


Bonus Question!


Worst Wallace?


Shawn. I don't really have anything against the guy, but when I was  kid, I ignored my friend's fervent recommendation of "The Princess Bride" because I thought that he was a much bigger part of it. But then I saw it in the cinema in my 20s and discovered that it's basically just one scene.

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Mazes and Mansions

There really didn't seem to be anything I wanted to see in theatres at the end of January. But then I noticed that delayed finale to the Maze Runner trilogy. I hadn't seen the first two, and I decided to catch up in preparation. The element that really stuck out to me was that Bran friend kid from "Game of Thrones". And I was thinking, "Wow, man. That kid's so young. He's doing all kinds of things. Serious momentum." But then I discovered that he's barely younger than I. My birthday's coming in midwinter, and he's a summer child. But like . . . I look pretty young despite the impendence of my 28th birthday. But this cat doesn't look to be in his early twenties. He doesn't even really look like a high school senior. So yeah. "Game of Thrones" got lucky with one of its child characters at least. At least they're not dealing with the Bruce Wayne of "Gotham". That production crew's probably having to pull some hobbit tricks to make that dude look juvenile. People must be standing on boxes all around him.

But as I was buying tickets, I happened to notice a new period horror movie with Helen Mirren, and I knew that I had to see that instead of the Maze thing. It's called "Winchester", but in my heart it's "Helen's Haunted House". I'm also choosing to assume that that was the working title.

 

Bonus Question!

Arkham Asylum versus Winchester Mansion! War of  sprawling supernatural architecture!

 

From what I gather, Winchester's ghosts were drawn to its inhabitants, but Arkham was built on a locus of some severely wicked voodoo. Arkham's victorious.

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Babbling About Rabbits

Man. That "Peter Rabbit". I walked in to the theatre late, but I was just in time to catch a montage set to Len's "Steal My Sunshine". That song seems to steadily be resurging, and I'm deeply appreciative. I developed a love for it some years ago that far exceeded any regard I had for it when it was current. Which was . . . I don't know. I was probably 10 or something.

But this version turned out to be sung by birds with added details that referenced the plot.

Also. Maybe some people have been following Star Wars and thinking "Well, the Kylo-Rey romance is fine, I guess, but it's just not trashy enough for my tastes. I'm a human piece of garbage who yearns for sweet baby Rey to end up with the impotently irate ginger general Hux." If this is you, "Peter Rabbit" should be a treat. That's right. Gleeson and Ridley! Together at last! He's  not ginger here, though. But the rest is basically still intact.

 

Bonus Question!

Br'er versus Roger! Battle of the other two dudes with the surname Rabbit!

Roger. His extreme affinity for the magic of cartoon physics gives him a big edge.

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Horrorigins

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.

Ragnacroc

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. 

 

 

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