I’m Phoning It In…

Yeah, 3.5.  Lots on my mind lately, so I’ve been neglecting this fine blog.  Do you have anything interesting to say?

If not, buy my fine book and get some inspiration.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – The Police Academy Movies

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

I used to love these movies as a kid, so I caught the original on Netflix.  Have to say, not as funny as an adult though still mildly humorous.

A lot of dated humor.  For example, one of the evil cadets calls Officer Hooks, an African American woman with a mousey demeanor and squeaky voice a “dumb jigaboo” which is about as old as a racially derogatory word as you might find.

In response, Officer Hightower, aka super tall and strong football player Bubba Smith, personally picks up the evil cadet’s squad car and turns it over onto the roof.  It’s a nice scene, awesome that he stands up for Hooks, especially because the evil Lt. Harris lets him know if he does he’s out of the academy.  But he does it anyway, the moral being sometimes you have to stand up for what is right, consequences be damned.  Hightower knows his career as an officer will be over, but he must stand up for his friend and put a bully in his place.

Sucks to hear the word “jigaboo” in a movie but cool to see a man stand up for his friend. That was probably the most thought provoking part of an otherwise incredibly dumb movie.

My main takeaway is that I’m getting old.  When I was a kid, all these cops seemed like cool adults having fun.  Now, they all look like kids to me.

Also, Michael Winslow’s sound effects are awesome.

The second one is actually funnier than the first.  I don’t remember the others.

Check them out, 3.5.  The first is on netflix.

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Free Chat Weds

Talk amongst yourselves, 3.5 readers

Should Ed Sheeran Have Had a Cameo on Game of Thrones?

Pro – he’s probably a fan who had a good time doing it.

Con – This show is bigger than the actors.  It has never had to rest on large personalities or gimmicks, so this seemed cheesy.

Discuss.

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Movie Review – War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Yikes.  This movie was so bad I wanted to fling some monkey poop at the screen.

BQB here with a review of “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

Here’s my first observation – there wasn’t a war.  I mean, a war was on in the background but mainly, this film is a prison break picture.  They should have called it, “The Great Escape of the Planet of the Apes” because it’s basically “The Great Escape” meets “Planet of the Apes.”

The humans are in a civil war, as a rogue colonel (Woody Harrelson) has gone above and beyond with tactics that the other humans aren’t comfortable with, seeking to eradicate the apes altogether and going against any kind of hope for a peace between man and primate.

Ape leader Cesar goes on a mission to take out the colonel but soon learns the more pressing situation is that the colonel is holding tons of apes in captivity, forcing them to do hard labor in ape camps.  Even worse, the apes are not paid in bananas.  Some apes have grown so used to their oppression that they have become Uncle Tom apes, i.e. they jump whenever their human masters say jump.

Ergo, Cesar and ape friends hatch a scheme to break the apes out.  Therefore, it’s a prison break film and not really a war film.

The movie is long, cumbersome and it meanders all over the place.  At times, it is boring, especially in long scenes where CGI simians talk to each other using monkey sign language.

Also, there are things that are introduced that go nowhere.  For example, one of the monkeys saves a little girl and takes her on as his own daughter.  The moral is that sometimes you have to do the right thing even if it is beyond the norm, i.e. a monkey takes care of a human kid.  However, spoiler alert, we never learn what happens to the human kid by the end of the movie.

Overall, it’s a stinkfest.  While “Dawn” and “Rise” were decent, this end of the trilogy should hopefully end the ape movies for awhile.  I mean, at this point, they’re going to really need to come up with a kick ass idea to justify making another one of these things.

It’s just sad because I know how the conversation went down:

HOLLYWOOD SUIT #1 – Boy, we have a lot of creative, original scripts to choose from.

HOLLYWOOD SUIT #2 – Make another monkey movie.

It’s enough to drive a man bananas, 3.5 readers.

STATUS: Un-shelfworthy, a label I don’t apply lightly, but seriously, it is worthy of much monkey poop being flung at it.  A dumb end to a prequel series where the first two were pretty good.

Game of Thrones Wrap-Up – Season 7, Episode 1 – Dragonstone

It’s a Game of Spoilers, 3.5 readers.  Look away, I say.

Basically, Cersei and Jaime are screwed, and more so than the usual screwing they do to each other.

To the South, the Dornish Amazons are pissed.  To the North, Jon Snow is King.  The Whitewalkers are headed for the Wall.

Oh, and the Khaleesi has landed.  Repeat, the Khaleesi has landed.

Arya has taken out all the Freys with her ninja skills.  Oh and all the kids have officially grown up.  Arya, Bran and Sansa are all super tall and look like they ate their Wheaties over the past year.  Sigh, this decade really has moved fast, hasn’t it?

Yes, things suck big time for Cersei.  And with her children and family gone, Jaime asks the inevitable question of what are they even fighting for?

Her only potential ally at this point seems to be Euron Greyjoy, who promises a fleet and a special mysterious gift if he can get all up in Cersei’s lady business.

Don’t do it, Euron.  You know she’s packing a steel bear trap in that thing.

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RIP George Romero and Martin Landau

Hey 3.5 readers.

First, as I am a zombie lover, it is my sad duty to inform all 3.5 of you that George Romero, director of “Night of the Living Dead” and the inventor of the zombie genre has died.

All zombies will be required to eat their brains at half mast.

Second, Martin Landau, who won an Oscar playing down and out, drug addled Dracula actor Bella Lugosi in “Ed Wood” has died.

The creator of zombies and Dracula, gone in one day.  Truly a sad day for horror nerds.

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The Male Biological Clock is Real

Hey 3.5 readers.

My best buddy, “The Alleged Man” or the person everyone thinks is me but isn’t, has been pretty bummed as of late.

See, he’s 38, and since 35 the realization has been a slow trickle, now turning into a busted water faucet of a realization that his window to father children is getting narrower and narrower.

In theory, yes, if you can squeeze out some joy juice out of a one hundred year old man, you might be able to use it to knock up a chick.  However, that 100 year old still needs to get the go ahead from a young, fertile chick…because, you know, otherwise he’d be a centenarian rapist.

NOTE TO SELF:  “Centenarian Rapist” would be an awesome title for my next book.  TAGLINE: He raped his way through the Great Depression and two world wars, now he’s raping his way into the grave.  Begin plans for a 99 Design cover contest posthaste.

Back to the point.  Do things look grim for this stud muffin?  Should he just slap himself for not working harder to impregnate a chick in his early days, then forgive himself an accept his spawn-less existence?

I mean, our own 45th POTUS managed to knock up a hot younger woman at age 60 but, you know, he’s super rich and famous and also the POTUS and also has fantastic hair and I have heard rumors that he is often talked about on the news for some reason.

But do keep in mind AM not rich or famous or the POTUS.  That probably won’t happen until I release “Son of Toilet Gator” and then everyone will be all like “Oh AM you’re so super awesome, please impregnate all the women, yay.”

Yeah, yeah, forget pity and condolences about “Hey, Alleged Man, maybe you can adopt or maybe you’ll meet a babe with kids of her own and the Dad has skipped town.”

The Alleged Man is wondering about his chances of actually getting his swimmers past the fallopian goal line.

Sadly, the “Sell a Billion Copies of Toilet Gator and impregnate a gold digging supermodel” looks like it is still years away from coming to fruition.

Plus, AM recently read something about how the older you get, the worse your sperm gets.  AM is now highly concerned that a microscopic slide of his jism would bear a striking resemblance to a bunch of tiny tadpoles slapping each other around like the Three Stooges.  Nyuk nyuk.

Discuss.

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Hello 3.5 Readers

I hope you all have a terrific Sunday.

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The Writer’s Battle – Reservoir Dogs – Non-Linear Storytelling, Doing More with Less and Setting Your Story to a Soundtrack

Are you going to bark all day little 3.5 doggies, or are you going to bite?

BQB here with a little green bag of a discussion about Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 film debut, “Reservoir Dogs.”  What can you 3.5 aspiring writers learn from this flick?  A lot.

Non-Linear Storytelling

Tarantino was the main pioneer of this type of storytelling, namely, when a writer starts at the end and works back to the beginning, rather than start from the beginning and work the story until its conclusion.

In this case, we get an introductory scene where a group of criminals are sitting down for breakfast in a diner.  They trade jokes and we get a sense of each individual’s style.

Next thing you know, Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) is driving Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) to a hideout.  Mr. Orange has been shot in the gut, an apparent sign that a planned diamond store heist went bad.

You’re never actually shown the heist.  Most of the film takes place in a warehouse/hideout as the characters try to figure out how their heist went so wrong, why the police were waiting for them, and most importantly, which member of the crew is the rat who told the cops about the job?

From there, the film goes into flashbacks where we see bits and pieces of the escape from the heist that went wrong, as well as some past “get to know” some of the characters scenes.  The film always returns to the warehouse as the characters move the story forward, trying to figure out who did the crew wrong.

Tarantino could have done this a different way.  He could have started with the backstory of the characters in the beginning, put the heist that goes wrong in the middle, and have the fighting over who the rat is at the end.

Wouldn’t that have been boring though?  Instead, Tarantino chooses to put the most exciting part first.  You jump right into the action – a blood soaked back seat, a pained Mr. Orange screaming out in terror about his impending demise, a calm Mr. White driving a getaway car while holding Mr. Orange’s hand, telling him he’ll be ok.

Your mind immediately asks the question, “How did this heist go so wrong?”  And now you want to sit back and let Uncle Quentin tell you how.

Doing More with Less

This was the first film Tarantino directed.  Sure, he had a bigger budget than any of us indie writers, but still, he didn’t have much compared to other big name films of the day.

Even so, he did a lot with very little.  Consider:

  • Mr. Blonde’s soda cup – We have a scene where Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) and Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) have turned guns on each other, both men starting to lose it as they’re trying to figure out who the rat is and how to avoid going to jail.  Suddenly, we are interrupted by a tell tale sip.  Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) is sipping soda out of a fast food cup through a straw.  The implication?  Mr. Blonde does not give a shit.  He is an unfeeling psychopath.  Any rational person would be scared out of their minds, consumed with fear that the cops will bust down the door any second.  Mr. Blonde?  He murdered a bunch of people in a heist, and then during a citywide search, he stopped at a drive-through to get some food.  He literally did not give a shit that he’d get killed or sent to prison, he was not unsettled by the murders he committed, he was perfectly content to stop for fast food and have a bite to eat while there was a manhunt for him and his crew in progress.  Keep in mind this is not stated.  It’s all about show and tell.  Here, for the price of a ten cent soda cup, Tarantino told us an epic shit ton about Mr. Blonde’s character.

 

  • Steve Buscemi’s gunfight with the cops – So many gun scenes are cliches.  Both sides fight.  No one gets hit.  No one has to reload.  The guns are easy to control, there’s no kickback, everything works out.  Here, Tarantino shows us the furious side of a gun battle.  Buscemi empties his gun at incoming police until his clip runs out.  You see police officers fall in pain, you see the stress on Buscemi’s face.  The message?  Real life gun battles aren’t all summer blockbuster hocus pocus.  Shit gets really terrifying, really fast.

 

  • The nonlinear format itself – I have a hunch that the nonlinear format helped Tarantino save money.  He could have dropped a ton of dough on a major heist scene, show the criminals in an elaborate robbery, followed by epic gunfights and car chases.  Instead, he trusts the actors to tell us about it as they try to piece together the mystery of the rat and the actors do well, the stress they are obviously feeling tells us they were just involved in some heavy shit.

Setting Your Story to a Soundtrack

Tarantino invents a 1970s music station that everyone is listening to throughout the film.  It makes for a retro vibe, and Tarantino was surely trying to pay homage to the cheesy Beretta style crime dramas of his youth.

Playing “Little Green Bag” as the criminals walk down the street gives us a sense that these are some hardcore pricks.

Meanwhile, in an iconic scene, Mr. Blonde tortures a police officer set to the sounds of “Stuck in the Middle with You.”  This song is a happy song, one that makes you want to smile and dance…but it shows what a psycho Mr. Blonde is, namely, that he is enjoying dancing to this happy beat while he’s cutting off a cop’s ear and setting him on fire.

Most people would never do such a thing.  The few that would usually know that this would be no time to dance.  Mr. Blonde is a special kind of crazy.

Of course, you don’t have the rights to use popular songs like Tarantino did.  However, I find that my writing is helped when I listen to songs related to time periods I am writing in.  It puts me in the mood.

How Nonlinear Storytelling Can Fix Plot Holes

Suppose you are a hardened criminal fresh off a botched diamond heist that went wrong due to a rat.  Who would you immediately suspect?

If you said, “The New Guy,” congratulations.  You’re acting like a stylish, early 1990s diamond robber.

The irony is the film goes for most of its length with the characters fighting over who the rat is.  We aren’t told there is a new guy until we get towards the end.  Then we discover Mr. Orange is the new guy and also an undercover cop.  Spoiler?  Shut up, you’ve had since 1992 to watch this thing.

But that’s the thing.  You’re not a stylish early 1990s diamond robber, so you weren’t thinking like one.  Maybe “the new guy” might have popped into your head, but you don’t find out until the end that there was a new guy.  Once you do, you realize the whole crew is apparently very, very, ridiculously stupid.  I mean, they knew he was the new guy.  Why didn’t any of them go, “Hey, I think the new guy might be the rat…”

Had Tarantino followed a linear format and told us up front that Mr. Orange was the new guy, he’d of been the obvious rat suspect, giving away the story’s most vexing question.

Conclusion

With this film and its followup, “Pulp Fiction,” Tarantino inspired a generation of filmmakers and writers, challenging them to abandon the rules in favor of coolness, style, and better yet, to grab the viewer’s attention and draw them in.

Think about writing like dating.  If you are super rich and have a ten foot King Kong penis, you might want to drop that information sooner rather than later.  If you make your date wait until the tenth date to find out your most amazing qualities, she might get bored by then and switch you off, like your audience will do with your writing.

In other words, Tarantino dares us to start with the ice cream first, and then we’ll work our way to the meat and potatoes.  Give us that bloody gunshot victim screaming in pain in the backseat right away, and then we’ll stick around to fight out how he got into such a terrible state.

You can do this too, if you dare.  Begin with the most awesome part of your story, then explain how we got there.

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