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.



Loads of Lupin

I started watching the most recent Lupin III series a few months ago, and it brought back the vaguest memories of some other series inspired by the same French thief that seemed stylistically similar in my paltry recollection. On multiple occasions, I tried to find it to see what it actually was, but no satisfaction was found. I remembered that my initial attraction to it, which would have manifested during its airing on YTV while I was around the age of second grade, had a lot to do with its title. But I couldn't get the name right. I kept wanting to say "Nightmask", but I knew that that was an obscure cosmic Marvel character. Or several.


But I recently stumbled upon the name "Night Hood" somewhere, and that turned out to be it. While a bit of research revealed that it was produced by France and Canada instead of Japan, it apparently did owe a bit of inspiration to "Lupin III" in addition to Maurice Leblanc's original works. And maybe the titular Hood was supposed to be the missing generation between Leblanc's character and the Japanese descendent? But that's not my mystery to solve. My most enduring question of 2017 has been answered.


Bonus Question! 

Serious question for anyone who's ever tried to pick someone up in a bathroom. Does flapping your penis around while you try to make eye contact with a slight grin on your face work for you? This query's open to everyone, but I'm especially curious about really large dudes in their 40s and 50s. Also, it was late afternoon in a mall.

Dolls in Doldrums

I might have a habit of going to prequels of horror movie franchises I haven’t seen. And it seems to be working out. It happens during movie doldrums. I don’t remember the exact state of things when I went to see the “Ouija” prequel, but in this case, the only thing that caught my eye was “Annabelle: Creation”. Which is actually a prequel to a spinoff of “The Conjuring”. And that spinoff might have also been a prequel. Like “The Scorpion King”! Man, that movie ruled.


But yeah. The combination of explicit supernatural nonsense with a period setting really works for me in the horror genre, which isn’t something I generally rush out for. I like a lot of the tropes, but straight horror movies rarely draw me to the cinema. But these have been great. And apparently they’ve been reviewed far better than the movies to which they serve as prequels too. That’s more of a curiosity, though. I don’t bother with that.


Bonus Question! 

Doll versus Oujia board! Battle of haunted toys!

First thought? The board's planchette flies up and pierces the doll's eye. Ouija for the win? 

Back in the Zoo York Groove

In 2003, I received a really nice pair of Zoo York wristbands that attracted me almost entirely because of their brilliant shade of blue and gold embroidery. I still don't really know what Zoo York is.

In that same year, I also started listening to Kiss and vowed almost immediately to see them in concert in the future. That future came in 2013, and the absence of two founding members held through that whole decade. Kiss was always primarily driven by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, and no one seemed overly hopeful for the return of Ace or Peter. 



But now Ace is back. Was Gene just waiting for Ace to look worse than he does?  Is that some contingency clause in one of the myriad contracts around which Gene Simmons's existence apparently revolves? Terminated Kiss members may not return unless they prevent Gene from being the homeliest member of the band? That's probably why Peter Criss isn't returning. Dude looks far too dignified.



Maybe it's why Paul's never left at all. Dude know that he can't stop being the prettiest Starchild for anything. If he went, he'd be out for good.


Bonus Question!

Starchild versus Starman!

Look, man. I like Jeff Bridges too. But Paul Stanley lives to win.



Boats and Toads

 "The Tick", eh? I've great memories of that cartoon from my childhood, and the current live series creates fond new ones. But one of those new memories plays into an old one of a live series within an entirely separate cartoon. I speak of course of Knightboat!


I came upon this intelligent watercraft  before I had any inkling of the Hasselhoff vehicle upon which it was based. Still hilarious. 

Thus my thanks go out to the producers of this new Tick show for making Knightboat more of a thing.   Among other things. Like Peter Serafinowicz! I do like hearing that guy talk. Remember when he voiced Darth Maul in that movie wherein he only had two lines? But then he didn't voice him in either of the shows that featured him more prominently? Oh, well. We have him now. And here. In this thing. 


Bonus Question!  

Tick versus Maul! 

I'd like to give Tick more of a chance by equipping him with a counter to Maul's double lightsaber. Like some sort of double spoon staff. Made of Cortosis. He'd still probably die. But maybe then old Pete'd be free to voice another insufficiently verbose Ray Park character. Like Toad! I think that he'd make a good Toad. 


Do you know what happens to a Tick when it gets hit by lightning? Because I think that it's probably nothing. 

Duck Season

 If you're a duck, it's always swimsuit season. Got to cut those carbohydrates! But also willpower's hard. 


Bonus Question! 

Rewriting history versus solving a mystery?

I'm giving the win to the latter. Things can get too tangled when you fool too much with time travel. I don't really want to mess too much with that  business. Don't get me wrong. I'll go back to visit. I just have no desire to make substantive changes. I can't be dealing with lepidopterous consequences and junk.




Too May

Thinking about Spider-Man. Thinking about Marisa Tomei. In my life, it's safe to assume that I've historically done more of the former than I have of the latter, but here we are.

Anyway, Ms Marisa's version of Aunt May did seem far younger than most other depictions, and even the comparatively youthful Ultimate version had a decade or two on Lady Tomei.

But now I'm wondering if some of this could just be rooted in timing. At inception, Peter Parker was 15 in the early 60s, and May was supposed to be his elderly aunt. Not his grandmother. Or his grandmother's sister. Or his grandmother's aunt. But still she undeniably had the mien of the oldest of crones.

But her years might not have been of a kind with Marisa's years. Aunt May's generation had the Great Depression and cigarette commercials. Marisa's had freely available produce and moisturiser. Maybe May's always been around the same age. Perhaps it's as Indy once said.

Bonus Question! 

Tag team! Aunt May and Uncle Ben versus Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben! 

Ben Parker falls first because that's kind of his thing, but that just spurs May on to victory. Though maple syrup on rice could be delicious, the Parkers get the win over the food mascots.

Emoji Party

I heard a lot of bad things about "The Emoji Movie". But when do I pay attention to such things? I had to see Sir Patrick Stewart play a fecal coil. But it was alright. Almost like "Baby Tron". Or a mix of a better "Sausage Party" and a worse "Wreck-It Ralph". No one really seemed to be that irate about "Sausage Party", and while "The Emoji Movie" didn't have a prestigious creator like Seth Rogen behind it, it did seem to have some more meat at its core. It also had T.J. Miller's implication that he quit one of the most acclaimed comedies on television to be in it.

But yeah. Ultimately, if you ever wanted a spinoff about the background characters from "Reboot", this should dribble some moisture on that thirst.

Bonus Question!

Most appropriate "Silicon Valley" alumnus to play the Meh emoji if the movie hadn't been about being ill suited for that job?

Thomas Middleditch.

Just look at the dude.

Just look at the dude.


Maybe the impending release of the new "DuckTales" television show has just put Huey, Dewie, and Louie on the brain, but as I was watching these guys in "Valerian", I kept imagining that they were gargoyle cousins of old McDuck's mischievous wards.

Or hey. They're in space. What other irreverent avian was recently spotted in those parts? How about Howard T. Duck? He was stuck in the Collector's interstellar menagerie for a while. There are limited ways to kill time in a situation like that, and at least one of them could probably result in progeny of this kind. Did I solve a mystery? Who knows? It's a duck blur. But this is bold deduction, and I've heard that that never fails. That's for certain.


Bonus Question!

Didn't those two tourists in the bazaar look like inelegantly retired versions of Bruce Willis and Leelu Multipass?

Another Pass

I remember being prompted to see "Three Days to Kill" by the winter movie doldrums of early 2014. I was pushed further in that direction by the involvement of Luc Besson, whom I adored for "The Fifth Element". The movie was alright, but it didn't really have any commonality with "Element". No big surprise. It did seem to bear resemblance to "Taken", but I never saw that thing, and the accuracy of that supposition is thus dubious.


But this season sees the release of Luc's film "Valerian", based on a comic that helped to inspire "The Fifth Element" in the first place. Hey, 2014 Jaymes! It's a thing you wanted!


I was going to end it there, but I'm coming back because I just glanced at Besson's filmography and realised that he was involved with the "Taken" franchise. But just before I noticed that, I saw that he also worked on "From Paris with Love", and I had great fun with that one. Dude knows how to make a buddy cop adventure. And cast?


Bonus Question!


2014 Jaymes versus 2017 Jaymes!


Dude. We're the same person.


But I will say that this Jaymes is something child Jaymes would have wanted to be. I won't really be talking about other Jameses.


But they would have wanted to be this Jaymes too.

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