RIP Stan Lee

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

This is a nerdy blog so you can expect I’d have to say something about Stan Lee.

I guess my first memories of him are when I was a kid, watching Spiderman cartoons on Saturday mornings and hearing him narrate, calling the kids listening “True believer” and using his catchphrase, “Excelsior!”

It’s sad but it is also hard to feel bad because a) 95 is about the best anyone can hope for b) I’m not sure how well he was physically but he was doing well enough that he appeared in cameos in every Marvel movie since 2008 and that’s better than any of my 70 plus relatives were ever able to do c) he was a rare person who not only created something but also did what he wanted his whole life and made a good living at it and d) he lived long enough that he got to see his creations draw big time box office gold.  Sure, they were always possible in comic book form and in cartoons and toys but it wasn’t until just the past couple of decades when Marvel based movies really came into their own.  He got to see it.

Most of all, his heroes were flawed.  While Superman was Mr. Perfect, Lee’s characters struggled with their abilities.  They wanted to do the right thing but they didn’t always know what the right thing was.  They screwed up, made mistakes, felt bad about it, learned how to cope with failure, etc.

When I was a kid I started an autograph collection, writing to celebrities to ask for an autograph to see if they’d write back.  Most didn’t but sure enough, I got an autographed photo of Stan in the mail sent in a Marvel Comics envelope.  I wish I’d saved the envelope.  I’ll have to dig the photo out and post a pic of it.  I’ve always wondered if the signature is real or if it is a pre-printed signature but either way it was cool. I’m sure it was just some assistant who sent it but still, cool.

Finally, here’s a cameo that a lot of people probably forgot but Gen Xers like me remember, Stan in Mallrats, trying to talk Brodie into being a better boyfriend to his girlfriend.

Man, my friends and I watched this movie so many times when we were kids.  Where does the time go?

 

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Playing Red Dead Redemption 2

Haven’t gotten too far into it but enjoying it so far.  The main character is a real cowboy’s cowboy, so that’s cool.

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Movie Review – The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018)

Thrills!  Chills!  Vacuum bags!

BQB here with a review of “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.”

Off the bat, I’m going to address some of the criticism I’ve been reading about this movie.  The reviewers have been saying this is a cheap reboot, a makeover in the age of superhero movies, turning the great Lisbeth Salander from a deep character to a cookie cutter heroine that can be mass produced for endless sequels.

Balderdash, I say.  In the late 2000s and early 2010s, Stieg Larrson’s “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series about a young goth punk chick hacker and bitter middle aged journalist Mikael Blomkvist who team up together to fight crime in Sweden was all the rage.

Alas, for whatever reason, no American sequels were made immediately after 2011’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (featuring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara).  The original Swedish films starring Noomi Rapace live on, chronicling the entire three book series and I found them enjoyable and in some ways, better than the American version as they were more authentically Swedish (obviously) though they lacked the big budget explosions and effects that Hollywood can provide.

Back to the critics, I think they misunderstood the film.  Salander’s character isn’t dumbed down into a superhero.  Far from it.  Unlike every time there’s a new Batman movie and some Hollywood suit insists that half the film be spent on watching young Bruce Wayne’s parents get gunned down on the way home from the theater for the 1,000th time, this movie is an immediate continuation of the 2011 film, just with new actors.

In other words, the audience isn’t treated as a bunch of dummies.  Salander’s whole history isn’t rehashed, her relationship with Blomvquist isn’t explained, you, the viewer are expected to already know the past before you walked in, either from seeing the first film or reading the books or at least having heard something about the series before.  At any rate, Superman flicks might need to keep showing that space pod crash down on the Kents’ Iowa farm for the millionth time and Spiderman movies will always show young Peter sad that he didn’t stop Uncle Ben’s killer, but here, you are trusted to not be a dummy who already forgot the first film.

Claire Foy is great in the role.  Blomvquist, on the other hand, is given a total makeover and turned into a young studmuffin (Sverrir Gudnason), thus proving my point that Hollywood has reached a point where it will never again portray anyone over 40 as being either useful or good or productive or admirable in any way, shape or form.

Salander has hit her stride in this film.  After the buildup in the original, Lisbeth has perfected her ability to use her hacking skills to be the avenging angel of battered and abused women all across the Nordic lands.  Meanwhile, Blomvquist must decide whether to put his career above or below his friendship with the hacker.

Critics have complained that Salander is supposed to be a feminist hero but alas she’s been turned into some kind of male tough guy action star and I think they miss the point here.  Salander isn’t just a feminist hero but also, a realist hero.  Sure, she makes doors open, cars crash and causes all sorts of mayhem with the push of a cell phone button, and that is a super power as unlikely as the Flash’s speed, but whenever her hacking skills won’t save the day, she improvises by doing what mere mortals in her situation might do, i.e. stick a gun in a bad guy’s face or zipping away on her motorcycle and side swiping a cop car in the process because, no human, man or woman, is perfect.

Perhaps the gild is off the lilly for this series in some respects.  Something can only be new and fresh for so long before it becomes old and comfortable and familiar.  In its heyday, this series was considered quite original.  But at any rate, I think fans will be pleased that the film stays true (for the most part except Mikael isn’t a bitter, washed up old man anymore) to the source material.

Plot?  Salander is hired to steal a program that would give its user complete control over all nuclear missiles in the world.  She’s hired by the program’s inventor, who regrets ever making it and feels it should be in the hands of no one.  Alas, “the spiders” i.e. a criminal organization run by the family she escaped from steal it from her and she’ll have to enter a world she thought she left behind in order to get it back.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Critics are dumb.

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Happy Veterans Day

Have a good Veterans’ Day, 3.5 readers.  If any of you 3.5 readers served, thank you for your service.

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Movie Review – Overlord (2018)

WTF.  Literally, WTF?

BQB here with a review of “Overlord.”

I tried to do a good dead, 3.5 readers.  I took an old relative of mine to the movies.  He picked Overlord.  Sounds good to me.  On the way he’s talking about the Normandy invasion during WWII (i.e. Operation Overlord i.e. D-Day.)  He’s a history buff after all.

Suddenly, it dawns on me he doesn’t realize what he’s walking into.  I tell him this isn’t just a World War II movie.  It’s a zombie WW2 movie.  He is disappointed but decides to give it a shot.

All I can say is, “Meh.”

The movie starts out like it was written by a high schooler who saw a few WW2 movies and brought together all of the tropes and cliches.  It’s all exceedingly woke.  Bokeem Woodbine is the commander barking orders at everyone…fine for today but historically accurate?  Probably not.  Then again it’s a horror fantasy and it probably says a lot about our terrible past that in a movie about the dead coming back to life, a black man ordering around white men in the 1940s is the most unbelievable part of the film.

NOTE: Yeah, don’t get upset 3.5 readers.  I’m glad we fixed all that.  I’m just saying, this is a woke version of the 1940s that didn’t exist at the time.

Back to the review.  The first half of the film is spent watching our heroes crash and wander about the French countryside, evading enemy attacks and mines and shit.  For awhile I felt like Dr. Malcolm in “Jurassic Park.”  “Uh, you do intend to have zombies in your zombie movie don’t you?”

Eventually, they give you a glimpse of potential zombie-ism but that’s just because someone must have picked up the script and said, “Jesus, we can’t bill this as a zombie film and leave the audience jerking off for an hour.”

Finally, our heroes discover a secret underground bunker where Nazi scientists are conducting experiments to turn humans into zombies i.e. soldiers that can last a thousand years or as long as how long they hoped Hitler’s reich would be.

Oddly, the bunker has lax security.  The heroes move between the bunker and the attic of a French house with reckless abandon.  It belongs to a young woman who gets to boss everyone around because again, this is super woke 1940s.

Here’s where I hate to dump on the film.  When we finally get to the zombies, there is some scary shit.  Scenes that will scare you and make you fear for our heroes’ safety.

It just makes you wonder why they didn’t bring that all up in the beginning because the overall problem is that the writers couldn’t decide if they wanted to do a straight up war movie or a horror movie and in the end, they don’t do either well.

It’s hard to criticize because I think the point was to make a crappy B horror movie but still…when you bill this as a zombified war movie, don’t make me wait all day to see the zombies.

STATUS:  Borderline shelf-worthy although honestly, this is a movie I have no interest in ever seeing again and if you miss it, you aren’t missing much.  It had potential and they blew it.  Sadly, somewhere out there is a WW2 Nazi scientist experiment gone wrong horror movie that would reel us in and scare the shit out of us…but this is not it and now because of this movie it will probably not be made.

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Self-Publishing Seems Like an Uphill Battle

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

So here’s what surprised me about self-publishing.

I never thought my books would take off overnight and turn me into an instant millionaire.

I am surprised that there’s so little interest in them.

Call me naïve but I just figured, wow, the Internet, you know?  You put your book on Amazon and Amazon is checked by zillions of people so someone searching for a topic related to your book so just by pure chance there should be at least a hundred bucks worth of purchases right there.

100 purchases at .99 cents a piece?  Is that a lot?  I don’t know.  Is it a lot in comparison to the millions of people who go on to Amazon constantly?

It’s like being the guy that sells oranges on the side of the road.  At least 5 people out of the 1000 who drive past you will buy an orange.

I don’t know.  I’m just surprised because I haven’t made enough money to count on the fingers on my right hand yet.

Am I complaining or being a crybaby?  Yes, though that’s not the intention.  I guess I just thought Amazon was the ultimate tuna filled ocean and if I dipped my net into it, surely just by random luck I’d cash the occasional fish.

Do I need 100 bucks?  No.  Would 100 bucks change my life?  No.  I’m just surprised I’ve barely made a couple bucks.

During my recent giveaway, I did give out roughly 75 free books so I guess that’s cool.  I hope people liked them.

It’s a little frustrating and makes me wonder if it is worth it to continue but…who am I kidding?  I couldn’t stop writing if I tried.

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I Haven’t Played Red Dead Redemption 2 Yet

ME: Oh boy! I just got Red Dead Redemption 2!  I can’t wait to play it!

RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2: Please enjoy the next two hours of downloads, updates and installations.  Feel free to stay up late to play or just play tomorrow.

Sigh.  For a guy from the plug and play generation, this is most annoying.

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When People Ask You to Vote on Social Media

Voting is important but chances are, if you were going to vote you decided to do so long ago and not because some dummy who thinks he/she is the second coming of Christ because they asked you to vote on Twitter or Facebook.

Remember when people write 5,000 posts urging you to vote, they mean they want you to vote for their candidates. If you vote against them they will say you are stupid. Both sides do this.

Anyway I’ve had my fill of sanctimonious voting posts so I’m glad this election is over.

Also, if there’s an office where you don’t like either candidate then write in Uncle Hardass.

Does Confidence Come From Within or Does It Have to Be Backed Up?

3.5 readers, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our 45th POTUS has a rather high opinion of himself.  Love him or hate him, that self-confidence has helped him win.

Perhaps it is easy for him to be that uber confident.  He was born into great wealth and used it to make more…something most of us will never be able to do.

Then again, if he’d been born poor and only became say, a lowly insurance salesman, something tells me he’d be able to sell tons of insurance policies and make bank for himself.

So I don’t know.  People tell me I should try to be confident but I feel like I don’t have much to back it up.

Do you think, for example, if a man who, to riff on Chris Farley, lived in a van down by the river, were to walk into a bar and speak confidently and highly of himself…do you think he’d be able to convince a hot babe to join him in his van down by the river?

Or, would he need something to back his confidence up?  Perhaps if he had a mansion he could invite the hot babe to, then he’d have no problem.

Perhaps the greatest part of confidence is knowing that if the opportunity you’re chasing doesn’t work out, another will be around in 5 minutes.

Thus, if you haven’t gotten it on in years, you’re going to seem desperate to that hot babe at the bar.  But if you get it regular, then you’ll have like a “Hey baby, take it or leave it” attitude that ironically, may very well intrigue said hot babe.

Personally, I think confidence isn’t a bluff but rather is a state of being obtained by being able to back up what you say and do.  I don’t think Trump would say half the things he does if he didn’t know that he had mad cash to hire lawyers to protect him from lawsuits and if his business is adversely affected then he still has plenty of dough.  Meanwhile, if you’re the manager of a shoe store like Al Bundy, you’re probably going to keep quiet as you need the last 5 bucks in your wallet for a pizza.

That’s my two cents.  Discuss.

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Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Scaramouche, 3.5 readers. Scaramouche indeed.

BQB here with a review of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

As a young man, Farrokh Bulsara had a ridiculous, almost supernatural and unwavering level of confidence in himself.  Where most of us reach our late teens and early twenties and decide selling out our dreams in exchange for financial stability is the safest way to go, Farrokh, who later changes and embraces his new name, Freddie Mercury, has talent and believes in himself intensely.

All he needs is an opportunity and he finds it in the form of a struggling band.  College students Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon are on the rocks and about to call it quits when Freddie confidently sings a few notes in front of them and the rest is history.

Freddie is a showman’s showman and the front man to end all front men.  As Queen’s star rises, he engages the audience, gets them involved, makes them feel like he is singing to all of them individually.  He goes to war with the music industry establishment, fighting the good fight to convince them that his rock opera style (music that tells stories) will be a hit.

Comedian Mike Myers has a cameo as Ray Foster, a music industry big shot who tells Freddie his 6 minute song “Bohemian Rhapsody” sucks and will never make it.  This is ironic, given the fact that Myers, in his 1990s movie, “Wayne’s World,” introduced Queen’s music to a whole new young generation.  I can tell you I had never heard of Queen until Mike and Co. started banging their heads to Bohemian Rhapsody in their car.

Freddie struggles with demons, both in the music industry and in his personal life.  He adores Mary Austin, the love of his life, but it can never be because he’s bisexual.  Worse, as he gains fame and fortune, he collects a contingent of hangers-on who feed his ego, urging him to indulge all of his vices – rampant, indiscriminate sex and drugs, drugs and more drugs.

His cross to bear is that he believes himself to be a genius (right in many ways) and so wants to hear he is right no matter what, even when he is wrong.  He wants to hear non-stop that he is  and wonderful and special and there are plenty of yes men who tell him this but this leads to behavior that ruins his life.  He is better off with his bandmates, who are his family.  They clash and fight but they also tell him the hard truth – that he needs to clean himself up, get away from drugs, find a solid relationship instead of a different sex partner every day and so on.

This is a breakthrough role for Rami Malek who, for years, I recognized as a familiar face, but never learned his name until now and like the character in his film, his portrayal is genius.  Hopefully unlike his character, the success won’t go to his head.

Although it is early in the season, I smell Oscar potential.  Few of us will ever experience Mercury’s level of fame, but the lesson may be that a little confidence in ourselves can go a long way towards finding success.  Further, maintaining humility and loyalty will help us keep that success once it is achieved.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

 

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