Monthly Archives: April 2018

My Book is Only 99 Cents!!!

Hey 3.5 readers. BQB here.  I haven’t done this in awhile, but if you haven’t yet, please pick up a copy of my illustrious book, “Bookshelf Q. Battler’s Big Book of Badass Writing Prompts.”  As you can imagine, it’s by yours truly, Bookshelf Q. Battler.

It’s available for 99 cents, which means out of a dollar, you get to keep a penny.  That beats a strip club.  You put a dollar in a stripper’s G-string and she’s keeping it.  She’s not going to spit out a penny out of God knows where.

You shouldn’t be going to such houses of ill repute anyway, perverts.

Look, it really is the most fun you can have for a dollar (and still get to keep a penny).  If you can think of a better time for 99 cents then tell me about it in the comments and I’ll stand corrected.

 

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Movie Review – Super Troopers 2 (2018)

I’d like one liter of review, please.

BQB here with a review of the long awaited, “Super Troopers 2.”

Ahh, “Super Troopers.”  It’s one of those cult classic films.  I don’t believe it was much of a breakout success when it came out in 2001, but over time, comedy aficionados spread the news of its glory through open mouth and I admit, whenever I catch it on TV, I watch and I laugh and laugh and laugh.

The original was brilliant in its stupidity.  The Broken Lizard boys, a bunch of friends who formed a movie making comedy troop, really managed to catch lightning in a bottle in that movie.  And to their credit, they understand a brand of comedy that’s becoming more and more forgotten, namely, a style that isn’t quote unquote “woke,” it’s not educational, it’s not trying to educate you or make you a better person…it’s just about trying to make you laugh.  Fart jokes.  Dick jokes.  Sex jokes.  Drug jokes.  Jokes your Grandma will not approve of.

Can you ever go home again?  By asking that, I mean, were these guys able to recreate the magic of the original?  The brief version – no, I think once you make something that really knocks an audience’s socks off, it’s hard to do it again.  It’s not that this movie isn’t funny, it’s just that the first one was so much funnier.

This go around is more or less a rehash of the last.  In the original, the boys sparred with a local police department while trying to break a drug ring.  Here, they also spar with a local police department while trying to break a drug ring.

There’s a notable difference though, namely, that there’s a town on the Canadian border that, due to some political wrangling, is about to be annexed to the United States.  The troopers, down on their luck and long out of the law enforcement game due to some “shenanigans” are called back into action to rejoin the Vermont highway patrol and keep the new town safe.

This isn’t an easy task, seeing as how the Canucks are none too pleased at the concept of being Yanks.  Canadians are lampooned as hyper sensitive, perverted French tree people  Americans are sent up as obese, stupid, overly patriotic imperialists.  Meh, both stereotypes are probably fair to a certain extent.

So many comedy sequels fall into the trap of rehashing old, popular jokes from the first film.  I heard two of the guys on a podcast talking about the pressure they faced from fans on the Internet – repeat all the old jokes but make it original!

It’s clear from the film that’s not something the dudes wanted to do out right.  Thus, they pay homage to the jokes, they’re acknowledged, the cap is tipped to them though they aren’t necessarily repeated.  For example, in the first film, the outrageous douche Farva comes close to blows with a teenage drive-thru clerk who doesn’t understand what a “liter of cola” is.  This go around, Farva is in Canada, where the metric system is well-established, so the waiter at a restaurant is able to bring him liters of cola to his heart’s content.  To repeat the joke would have been to have Farva kick another drive thru nerd’s ass over the misunderstanding but the homage is that at long last, Farva found a restaurant worker who knew what “a liter of cola” meant.

It’s dumb.  It’s silly.  At some point when you see Farva being watched through heat vision goggles and the fart clouds pop out of his butt in all their red heat signature glory, you realize you’re getting a much needed break from the new, godawful, PC, “don’t hurt anyone’s feelings,” woke brand of virtue signaling comedy.  Let Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Oliver bitch about politics…I’m going to check out and watch the Broken Lizard boys yuck it up for awhile.

Rob Lowe stars as the Mayor of the Canadian town in question.  As usual, he looks like he’s struck a deal with the devil to remain so handsome (it’s not gay if I say that, right?) well into his older years and…well, there’s one joke that I won’t give it away but you wonder just how the Broken Lizard crew managed to talk him into it.

In summary, it’s not as good as the first one, but in any walk of life, is the repeat of something ever as good as the first time it happened?  It’s not for lack of trying and they did provide me with some uncontrollable laughs.  Laughter is the most honest reaction.  Either it happens or it doesn’t.  Your body can’t hold it back if it wants to.

I have no idea about any behind the scenes wrangling but I do wonder if the PC wave has kept Broken Lizard from soaring.  Come to think of it, 2006’s “Beerfest” was the last movie I remember seeing boobs in and I don’t remember seeing boobs in a movie again until, well, this one.  I’ll have to wait to see boobs in a movie until “Super Troopers 3” I suppose.  Sure, Thor and Iron Man can knock out enemies left and right and that’s ok to watch but put some fun bags in a film and “Oh my God! It’s the end of the world!”

To BL’s credit, they’re a good example of what crowdsourcing can do.  They raised the money to make this film from the fans, waging an Internet campaign to raise the required loot.

Alas, in this PC age where the studios want nothing more than to jam the same exact, 1,045th copy of a film about Amy Schumer demanding to be loved despite being a drunken ho-bag, a good, old-fashioned bear attack on a jackass in a porta potty can only happen on screen now via donations from knuckle dragging troglodytes like me who want to see that sort of thing (although, I’m a cheap prick who didn’t give BL a dime, I did root them on in spirit.)

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  It’s up to you if you want to see it now or wait to rent.  If you’re a true super fan, you’ll want to check it out.

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Movie Review: Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

Robots vs. Monsters!

BQB here with a review of “Pacific Rim: Uprising.”

The original “Pacific Rim” was just that – something original amidst a landscape of reboots and sequels that we were sick of even five years ago.

The premise?  In the future, monsters (Kaiju) pop out of the sea to destroy cities in an attempt to conquer the world.  Humans respond by creating Jaegers, giant robots that can be piloted by a duo of humans whose minds must be in sync in order to use their brains to control the robot’s movements.  Cue training scenes where main characters must learn to control their angst in order to achieve mental clarity and save the day.

In this go around, ten years have passed since the end of the human vs. monster war.  Peace has broken out, though reconstruction efforts are slow and many cities remain in ruin.  Jake Pentecost, a former “Ranger” (a robot driver) and son of Idris Elba’s character in the first film, has bummed out of the military and exists as a scavenger, snatching up leftover parts from defeated Jaegers who have been left to rot on the depleted battlefields of yesteryear.

Blah, blah, blah, shenanigans ensue.  He and Amari (Cailee Spaeny), a young fellow scavenger, are snapped up by the Rangers, who demand that Amari enlist and Jake reenlist, because…um…apparently people who break the law are wanted for the military I guess?

Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood) commands the unit that these two ne’er-do-wells are assigned to.  There are many contentious scenes between Nate and Jake that are reminiscent of “Top Gun.”  Nate takes the Val Kilmer/Ice Man approach of telling Jake that he’s a loose cannon that’s going to get everyone killed.  Jake takes the Maverick/Tom Cruise approach of going with the flow and telling Nate to loosen up.

Is there a plot?  Yes.  Somehow, Jaegers are popping up all over and smashing up cities.  Say it ‘aint so!  How did these mighty robot warriors go bad?  It’s a mystery our heroes will have to solve.

Umm…there’s little more I can get into at this point without revealing spoilers.  Overall, it’s fun, a good visual spectacle, and it’s self-aware – it’s not trying to make us think this is a film more meaningful than a bunch of robots and monsters smacking the crap out of each other.

STATUS:  Shelf worthy.  Worth a trip to the big screen.

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Bookshelf Battle Cast – Ep. 004 – “The Hound of the Baskervilles” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Chapter 1 – “Mr. Sherlock Holmes”

BQB almost missed podcasting this month because he was enjoying a vacation in sunny Orlando, Florida, hobnobbing with Mickey Mouse and eating pineapples under palm trees and such.

But he came back just in time to entertain his 3.5 listeners.

Here, the world renowned poindexter reads the first chapter of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”

Who would think that a simple stick left in a waiting room would lead to so many deductions?  We learn Holmes’ investigatory process, namely, how he can observe an item and find details and information everywhere, where others would not notice anything.  Simple little clues about the stick tell Holmes so much about its owner.

Watson believes he has received a compliment from Holmes, i.e. that the great investigator has applauded the good doctor’s observations about the stick but rather, as the chapter moves on, we learn that Holmes says that Watson is not a genius, he is not a source of light but rather, a “conductor of light.”

So…that’s a really nice way of telling Holmes that he was wrong but by being so wrong he helped Holmes figure out what was right.

Talk about backhanded compliments.

https://soundcloud.com/user-957435932/ep-004-the-hound-of-the-baskervilles-by-sir-arthur-conan-doyle-chapter-1

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Movie Review – Downsizing (2017)

Oh, the joys of being small!  I know all about small things.  For example, my audience is a mere 3.5 readers.  Don’t even get me started on what’s in my pants.

BQB here with a review of “Downsizing.”

What if all of your problems, and coincidentally, all of the world’s problems, could be solved by a simple invention?

In the world of this film, “downsizing” or the process of turning humans very, very small, has been invented.  At first, the idea sounds ridiculous, but then when you think about it, if it worked, it might not be a terrible idea.

Got money problems?  You don’t anymore.  Can you afford a box?  That’s a mansion for a tiny person.  Can you buy one bottle of vodka?  Cool.  That’s a lifetime booze supply.  Drive a car the size of a toy, nourish your body on mere crumbs and international travel is as easy as being shipped in your very own, comfy little box.

And what a boon for the environment!  Why, an entire tiny city’s supply of trash made in four years can fit in a single garbage bag!

Amidst this backdrop lives Paul Safranek (Matt Damon), a down on his luck occupational therapist who, due to a string of bad luck, missed out on all his lifelong dreams and struggles just to make ends meet.

Downsizing has become all the rage, marketed heavily to the masses as a way to live like a king for pennies on the dollar.  When life becomes a daily grind, Paul and wife, Audrey (Kristin Wiig) decide to shrink themselves and move to the tiny community known as Leisure Land, where they are promised that they will be able to live like movie stars in their own luxurious estate, only with the $150,000 they are able to raise from selling their modest home in the big world.  Turns out that sum is equal to $12 million bucks in tiny town.

Seems to good to be true?  Well, I don’t want to give it away.  The first half of the film is devoted to just showing a lot of fun things that might happen if the world were to get small.  At first, it’s a concept driven film, discussing all of the ramifications of miniaturization and to the writers’ credit, they get in deep, discussing not just the fun parts but also the ethical ramifications as well as the potential for abuse by unscrupulous characters (one such fellow being Paul’s new neighbor, a smuggler played by Christoph Waltz.)

After the coolness of seeing mini people live their lives wears off, the film struggles to find a plot, or any sense of meaning.  Celebrity cameos come and go – Jason Sudeikis, Neil Patrick Harris, etc.  A cleaning lady, Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau), helps Paul find meaning in his new existence.

Eventually, I ended up hoping that someone would come along and downsize the film’s running time.  Will there be a villain?  Will there be some downside to downsizing that was heretofore unexpected?  Will the proverbial other shoe ever drop?

You spend so much time being wowed by the awesomeness of smallness in the first half that you feel invested and have to press through the second half but alas, like a botched Mexican shrink job where an unshrinkable filling is left inside the shrinking patient’s head, I too ended up wishing my head would explode just to get the film over with already.

There was some potential here and although protecting the environment is important, I think the film starts off with a fun message (i.e. perhaps science might find a fun, awesome way to save the environment) but then descends into preachiness (you’re ruining the earth with pollution and Matt Damon feels really, really bad about it, you suck bag.)

And yes, you are, but you know, I came for the entertainment, not for Matt Damon’s melancholic ennui.  If he’s worried about the environment, he can take one less private jet ride per year.

Sigh.  I just think like, I don’t know, a more dramatic turn, like a psycho villain who wants to stomp on little people towns or something might have given the film more pizzazz but nope, they just focused on the melodrama.

STATUS:  Stay for the first half.  Feel free to downsize the second half by changing the channel.

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Bill Cosby to Go to Jail

Hey 3.5 readers.

Bill Cosby, “The Coz” is headed for the slammer, the hoosegow, the stoney lonesome.

It’s sad.  For you younger 3.5 readers, you may not realize this guy was once America’s Dad and that was a big achievement because, you know, he was black and that was a new thing at the time.  There weren’t a lot of good TV roles for African Americans at the time and then suddenly you’ve got this show full of positive role models for anyone, black or white, to look up to.

The Cosby Show was riotously funny for its time, managing to transcend racial lines to discuss issues about family, growing up, teaching kids to take responsibility for their lives, education, doing the right thing etc yet somehow it managed to do so with humor and without being overly preachy.

My favorite episode is the one where young son Theo claims to have it all figured out, he’s going to drop out of school, not go to college, fend for himself and Cosby shows him via Monopoly money just how much the world is going to take from him if he doesn’t push himself to reach his full earning potential.  “Are you going to have a girlfriend?”  “Yep,” Theo replies and then wham, Bill takes the money and leaves the kid with nothing.

Plus, he sold Kodak film (product that eventually became irrelevant), New Coke (people demanded a return of the old coke) and pudding pops (which were freaking delicious and does anyone know if they still make them?  I want one right now that I am thinking about them.)

Sigh.  It is sad that apparently while he was doing so much good he was also apparently drugging ladies and taking advantage of them…I guess people think that fame will help them get away with so many bad things but it finally caught up with him.

Dave Chapelle put it best.  Imagine something you really love, like ice cream, then imagine hearing that thing is a rapist.  Damn, ice cream is a rapist.  Now I can’t enjoy ice cream anymore.

Sad.  What say you, 3.5 readers?

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Best Pickup Lines – #200-210

#201 – Girl, I’m going to rock your world.  But first, excuse me while I change my colostomy bag.  It’s full.

#202 – Bend over and let me come over.

#203 – I’m ridiculously potent.  In fact, I’ve impregnated over 350 women just by looking at them.  Come to think of it, you’ve probably got a bun in the oven right now.  Enjoy!

#204 – Did I just fart?  Yes.  Am I proud of it?  Most indeed.

#205 – Are you a stripper?  Can I catch you later? I’m all out of ones.

#206 – That’s not me.  That’s just a roll of quarters in my pocket. I’m going to do some laundry later.

#207 – If they can put a man on the moon then surely we can put this man in your poon.

#208 – Funny, I never would have looked at you twice a decade ago but in the last ten years I lost my job, my hair, my waistline and my pride so…let’s get down baby.

#209 – You, me and a jar of mayo makes three.

#210 – Come, my dear.  Let us spread our naked bodies with potato salad and writhe on the grass in the moonlight.

 

 

 

 

 

Play Rampage Online for Free!!!

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

I loved playing “Rampage” as a kid.  Well, if you’re like me and want to play it again…I’m surprised I missed this but as a promotion for the movie with “The Rock” a site was made that allows you to play the classic version of the game right in your web browser.

Punch buildings, eat humans, and go crazy as a giant gorilla, lizard or wolf:

PLAY RAMPAGE NOW!

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Is Apu Offensive?

Hey 3.5 readers.

I write an ongoing column on this fine blog called, “Is Comedy Dying?” where I lament how the “rush to offense” culture is tearing down comedy and not replacing it with anything good.  What passes for comedy now is just going to be Samantha Bee yelling at me about her political views, John Oliver snarking at me about his political views, and Amy Schumer making yet another dumb movie where she’s like, “Hey guys!  I’m a drunk slut who acts like an idiot but nice guys should like me or else they’re super mean, right?”

I digress.  On the surface, I get why an American of Indian descent might not be a fan of Apu, the owner of the Quick-E-Mart on “The Simpsons.”

On a deeper level though, those who watched the show regularly are aware that a) Apu is often the most intelligent resident of Springfield b) he’s an immigrant who built himself up into a businessman c) he suffers casual racism from incompetent Springfield boobs regularly with dignity and grace, often helping those who hurt him and d) he might as well be the one making money selling Homer outdated snacks because if he weren’t doing, Homer would just drive his fat ass to another convenience store and if anything, the scenes where Apu crosses out the date on expired products only for Homer to eat them and get sick is more about how chubby Americans suffer a love affair with junk food and are willing to make the worse decisions about what to shove in their holes.

I get the complaints – Hank Azaria isn’t Indian, some Indian Americans lament that when they were growing up they were called “Apu” or subjected to catch phrases like, “Thank you, come again” and so on.

But I don’t know.  Look at the rest of the show.  If we’re getting rid of Apu, then we also have to get rid of Bumblebee Man, Groundskeeper Willie, Uter the Chubby Exchange student and so on.  From Chief Wiggum, the fat donut chomping cop to Principal Skinner, the uptight, bureaucratic educator, every character is essentially a stereotype because that’s what cartoons are.

I get that people get offended but good comedy offends everyone, eventually.  There’s humor in everyone, everywhere.  If anything, comedy is fair when it offends everyone, when sooner or later, it pokes fun at anyone and everyone and leaves no one behind.

At the very least, can we really harangue the Simpsons creators for doing something that was considered OK 30 years ago?

I don’t know.  I do get the complaints.  I don’t want people to feel bad.  Still, I don’t know how the Simpsons continues if these are the constraints we are working under now.

It makes me a little sad and ready to throw in the comedy towel, to just let the snarky Manhattanite comics take the whole thing and ruin it all with their high falutin, brie cheese sniffing jokes that only three people get.  That’s fine.  Let’s just go ahead and get the Simpsons cancelled then.  What really need is 16 more movies where Amy Schumer laments that she can’t find a man who will accept her drunken sluttyness, more of John Oliver and Steve Colbert making my eyes glaze over with their policy talks, more of Samantha Bee yelling jokes at me that her writers room nerds thought were funny so ergo, I should find them funny.

I’ll be at the bar, 3.5 readers.  Tell me what you say in the comments below.

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Movie Review – Train to Busan (2016)

Zombies on a train!

BQB here with a review of “Train to Busan.”

As a zombie fan, I’ve been hearing mumblings about this movie in the nerd-o-sphere for awhile now.  It’s foreign, the characters speak Korean and it’s in subtitles, but foreign language films don’t necessarily stop me as long as the subject matter is something I’m interested in.  Personally, I prefer to read the subtitles and that combined with listening to the tone of voice and facial expressions I can get the gist of what’s going on even though I don’t speak the same language as the actors.  Funny how there are some things that transcend language barriers.

Anyway, in many ways, it’s a typical set-up.  Mom is divorced from Dad, Seok-woo (Yoo Gong), ostensibly because he works too much in his job as a stock broker, and apparently no matter where you are in the world, wanting to work hard is considered a crime by the ladies but that’s ok.  My review doesn’t need to be spoiled by my personal baggage.

Young daughter, Soo-an (Su-an Kim) misses her mother, who lives in Busan, and wants to cut her visit to her father’s home short.  After much wrangling, Dad concedes and hops a train with his kiddo.

Yadda, yadda, yadda…zombies!  A virus breaks out and South Korea is overrun with brain biters.  Worse, they’ve overtaken most cars on the train, leaving human survivors with only a few cars to move around on.

What happens next is a heroic tale of survival.  It becomes a constant running test when survivors are faced with a constant, repetitive choice, namely whether to slam a door between cars shut, sacrificing the life of a survivor who hasn’t made it through yet in order to protect one’s self and loved ones from the incoming zombie horde that’s chasing the unlucky human.

What would you do in that position?  Risk saving a fellow passenger, or slam the door in their face to protect yourself?  It’s a choice that’s made again and again, and as the movie progresses, we are left with a hope that maybe Seok-woo’s cold, businessman mentality might give way to a more humane, caring side.

Daughter Soo-an foils her dad’s efforts to think only for himself and his daughter.  She often lends a hand to complete strangers, putting herself at risk and in doing so, involving her old man in situations he’d rather avoid.

Meanwhile, the noble Sang-hwa (Dong-seok Ma) serves as a more overt check on Seok-woo’s conscience, almost bullying the man half his size to do the right thing.  While Seok worries chiefly about his daughter, Sang is worried about his pregnant wife, Seong-kyeong (Yu-mi Jeong).  Yet, he believes he can save her, his unborn child, and everyone else he can.

No movie would be complete without a villain and that comes in the form of Yon-suk (Eui-sung Kim), a train company executive who, unluckily for everyone else, happens to be riding on the train and is willing to sacrifice just about anyone and everyone just to save his oily hide from the gray matter chompers.

Overall, it’s a great film, a real thinker, with special effects that rival a Hollywood blockbuster.  Perhaps one of the more harrowing scenes comes when Seok, Sang and high school student, Yong Guk (Woo-sik Choi) form a three man phalanx and narrowly scrape through a tight car full of brain chewers in order to rescue their respective loved ones.

3.5 readers, Asia has really embraced the action genre and I don’t know if this is a new thing or perhaps it’s just something I’ve been turned onto thanks to Netflix, where you can find a vast cornucopia of Asian action films in subtitles.  Some are dubbed with American voices, but I do prefer to just read the subtitles, so catch this one before it obtains a mainstream level of popularity and they ruin it with dubbing.

The Ip Man Series and almost anything with Donnie Yen are worth watching and while Hong Kong seems to be Asia’s Hollywood, South Korea is catching up with this flick.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Seriously, I know a lot of people are like, “Ugh, I have to read subtitles?  No thanks.  Too much work.  It’s worth it and there’s plenty of action on screen to make up for it.  It’s currently available on Netflix.

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