Monthly Archives: April 2018

Voting is Open

Hey 3.5 readers.

Your old pal, BQB here.

TA Henry, one of the 3.5 readers of this fine blog (so the other 2.5, I hope, are listening), is a friend to this blog, even though she once threated to shove a rubber duck in my hindquarters. I forgave her. I thought it was big of me.

Hmm…come to think of it, she may have already done that. I’ve been oiling my chair because it’s been squeaking every time I sit down but now, come to think of it, that sound might not be coming from the chair.

Hmm….curious. Moving on, TA is up for an award and needs your vote, so I hope 2.5 of my 3.5 readers will go cast their vote post haste.

Read her blog post below for more details.

T.A. Henry

EEEEEEK!

My hands are shaking so hard I keep hitting the wrong keys. LOL.

This is the FIRST time I have been recognized for my work outside my loving friends and family. The FIRST time my work was held up by someone who makes their living judging books and who said this shit is good.

Every one says it’s a thrill just to be nominated. And it is. Beyond thrilling.

But imagine if I won?

To win, I need to get through to the finals. And that rests entirely on you, readers, voting for me.

Go over to indtale and vote for Ostrich Mentality in the Suspense/Thriller category

Ostrich Mentality ad from indtale

View original post

TV Review – Mindhunter – Season 1

The 1970s!  The FBI!  Sex with decapitated heads!

BQB here with a review of the new Netflix series, “Mindhunter.”  (BEWARE SPOILERS)

Hey 3.5 readers.  I heard a random recommendation for this show on a podcast the other day and had I not heard it, I would not have known this show even existed.  I’m not sure it’s getting the credit that it deserves because it’s well done, dramatic, smart, good timing, pacing, writing, acting, the whole she-bang.

I have no pull in Hollywood but I hope I can at least push the 7 eyes of my 3.5 readers to this outstanding series.

So, what’s it about?  It’s the late 1970s.  Watergate, Vietnam, and a series of 1960s political assassinations have left the public with what President Jimmy Carter once referred to as a “malaise” (although he never actually used that word but I don’t want to veer too far off track.)   Essentially, the institutions society depended on were breaking down and people started losing faith, accepting that life kinda blows and there’s not much to be done about it.

Against this backdrop, a new form of criminal emerges.  While the FBI was born in the name of stopping the likes of Dillinger and Capone, i.e. crooks with a clear motive (profit), there are now killers whose crimes are inexplicable – Charles Manson, Son of Sam, et. all.  Murders that are bizarre, disturbing, gruesome and incomprehensible.

Young, late 20s FBI agent Holden Ford (Jonathon Groff), an instructor of hostage negotiation tactics at the FBI training academy at Quantico, wants to understand how humans become monsters and sees potential in applying psychology to criminology.

Alas, Unit Chief Shepard (Cotter Smith), a typical gear clogging government bureaucrat, sums up the FBI’s thoughts on psychology – it’s bunk, hippy dippy nonsense, pointless prattle about thoughts and feelings that are not worth the bureau’s time.

Enter Agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), a stereotypical gruff and grizzled, buzz cut sporting G-Man.  He believes he’s found a golden gig in the FBI, teaching “road school,” i.e. each week he visits a different city, trains local law enforcement with a condensed version of FBI tactics, finds a lot of free time to hit the local golf courses, then heads home on the weekend to the wife and kid until he turns around and does it all again the next week.

Alas, Holden is assigned to work with Tench and as you might expect, he becomes a real turd in Tench’s punch bowl.

Holden sees a lot of potential in the road school’s downtime.  During a visit to California, he talks his way into a prison visit to interview serial killer Edmund Kemper (Cameron Britton), a 6’9,” 300 pound man who infamously killed his grandparents as a juvenile, only to be released as an adult, where he turned around and killed a number of women, cut off their heads and well, did unsavory things to said heads.  He even did this to his own mother before finally turning himself in.

Holden arranges for multiple interviews with Kemper and slowly but surely, talks the skeptical Tench into believing that locked away in the minds of serial killers is the information needed for the FBI to develop the new science of “criminal profiling” i.e. looking at traits held by certain people and determining the likelihood they might kill based on those traits, perhaps maybe even one day being able to stop such gruesome murders from happening.  Even further, they hope to be able to look at aspects of a crime, determine what kind of traits would be in a potential suspect and from there, be able to find the killer that much easier.

Thus, the FBI’s first behavioral science unit is born and soon enough, it grows in the form of Dr. Wendy Carr (Ana Torv) a professor turned FBI consultant.

As season one progresses, more serial killers are interviewed.  Although Holden and Tench are amalgamations of the real life pioneers who convinced the FBI to incorporate psychological profiling into its box of detection tricks, the killers interviewed are all real, i.e. actors doing their best imitations of said murderers.

Britton steals the show as the socially awkward Kemper, who blames his mother for all his problems, and is apparently so lonely that he starts to live for Holden’s interviews.  A crazy giant who kills people and fornicates with their heads is not exactly someone you want on your speed dial.

Happy Anderson plays Jerry Brudos, a hulking beast who murdered young women and stole their shoes (also blames his mother, it’s sort of a running, I don’t want to say joke but maybe a point that all the killers blame their moms).

Other killers include Montie Rissell (Sam Strike) who killed his female rape victims because he wanted them to be quiet and Richard Speck (Jack Erdie) who committed perhaps the most horrific acts in serial killer history, kidnapping a house full of nursing students and murdering all eight women in a single night.

The dynamic between Holden and Tench makes the series not just watchable but bingeable.  Holden is fascinated by what he sees as psychological tidbits being mined from the brains of these madmen – aspects of their childhoods, experiences, upbringings, things that can be looked for when hunting murderers.

Tench reluctantly admits the research will be helpful and yet, the research disgusts him.  While Holden views the interview subjects as victims of their own psychiatric circumstances, Tench views them as scumbag losers who couldn’t handle life so they flipped out and then blame everyone else but themselves for their own evil doings. At times, the buddy cop dynamic is fun and humorous.

From a writing perspective, it’s an example of how good writers can incorporate infamous figures from a history (here, a dark history) and incorporate fictionalized interactions to create something that is interesting.

Of course, no science is perfect and the ethical ramifications are explored.  Is it possible to use profiling to stop crimes before they start?  If a person is law abiding but exhibits strange but legal traits, should that person be deprived of a job, of a livelihood, cast aside from society, treated as a criminal before committing a crime?  Holden wrestles with these issues as his research causes him to start seeing potential psychos everywhere.

As the buddy cop duo continue their research, they often get called into the field to help local police departments catch killers, giving Holden and Tench a chance put what they have learned into practice.

SIDENOTE: Congrats to McCallany, who is one of those actors who has long played tough guys in movies, one of those actors who is in a lot of stuff but you never know his name…until now.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I can’t wait for season 2.

 

 

 

 

Tagged , , , ,

Movie Review – A Quiet Place (2018)

Shh!

Be vewy vewy quiet, 3.5 readers.  It’s time for BQB’s review of “A Quiet Place.”

I love it when I’m pleasantly surprised.  I knew very little of this film going into it.  I thought maybe it was just a standard horror flick that husband/wife duo John Krakinski and Emily Blunt whipped out but it’s anything but standard.  In fact, in this day of sequels, prequels and originals, you’ll want to scream for joy at this original idea.

But don’t.  Don’t make a sound.  You see, the world has been conquered by mysterious, scary creatures who, if you make a noise, will pop out of nowhere and eat you.  The population has been decimated and survivors live very quiet lives.  They make a modest amount of noise by walking around but other than that, no talking, no singing, no music and the slightest accident, i.e. knocking a plate onto the floor, can prove fatal.

There are exceptions to the “Be Quiet” rule.  There are places, circumstances, etc. where talking can happen but for the most part, the characters rely on sign language, subtitles and facial expressions to tell the story.  It’s impressive that the actors are able to get so much across by utilizing so little.  From a writing standpoint, it’s an exercise in “show, don’t tell” because all the characters can do is show.  They can’t tell.

Challenges abound.  Not to get too deep into it but daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) is deaf and lives in a world where there isn’t a place that will fix her broken hearing aid.  Just as in zombie apocalypse times, empty shops and ghost towns abound, and the Abbott family must get by through their wits and occasional scavenging.

Further, they engage in a variety of clever ways to go about their daily routine, figuring out how to get through their days as quietly as possible (an expected baby poses a significant challenge as we all know what babies love to do.)

STATUS:  An unexpected gem.  Shelfworthy.

Tagged , , , , , ,

BQB Does Kennedy Space Center

Alien Jones said it was primitive in comparison to his spaceship, but I was still impressed:

Tagged , , , ,

Movie Review – Ready Player One (2018)

Gamers vs the Man!

BQB here with a review of “Ready Player One.”

3.5 readers, I went into this movie thinking it would suck…but it didn’t.  I love it when that happens, when I got into a movie thinking it will blow goats but instead it blows hot winds of fun into my face.

Hmm…phrasing.

Anyway…in the future, the world sucks.  Poor people live in trailers stacked on top of each other and life sucks so much that people spend all of their time in a virtual world, the OASIS, where they can be anyone and do anything rather than live in the sucky world.

There is a catch – to die means to lose all progress, money, enhancements etc. you’ve made to your avatar, and to start over from scratch.  Some have spent so much time building their online personas they’d rather die in real life than begin anew again in the virtual world.

Halliday (Mark Rylance), a socially awkward to the tenth degree nerd who developed the OASIS has died but he’s left an “Easter Egg” in his game, i.e. if a gamer can solve three mysteries, he/she will get three keys to use to unlock…dun dun dun…a prize, that being controlling stock interest in the OASIS (a lot of money plus ability to run the world’s most powerful video game which accounts for a substantial amount of the global economy.

I don’t want to get bogged into the details but suffice to say, I went in thinking this would be a glorified cartoon but instead, found an interesting look at a possible technological future.  The better virtual worlds get, will they be able to solve societal problems?  After all, few can be all they want to be in reality as they are so many people competing for so few opportunities, but if everyone can be beautiful, awesome, do whatever they want in a realistic virtual game….well, is that a way to make everyone happy or is that a way to keep people from experience reality, as drab as that may be sometimes?

Pop cultural references abound as Halliday was a fan of everything 1980s.    The hero of the film Wade/Parzival Tye Sheridan, drives a copy of Marty MacFly’s DeLorean, for example.  Somehow, he and his love interest, Art3mis/Samantha (Olivia Cooke) and a band of plucky young players must save the day and defeat Sorrento, owner of IOI, a corporation set up to dump thousands of players into the game for the sole purpose of finding the keys and gaining control of the OASIS for evil purposes.

From a writing standpoint, it’s pretty slick.  It makes me want to read Ernest Cline’s novel version to see how he did it.  You’ve got human players in the human world and they’re playing in the virtual world.  They go back and forth between worlds, almost simultaneously, as sometimes human heroes are trying to save their indisposed friends who are busy playing the game from an attack from real life baddies.  It gets very complicated so I’m always curious as to how authors navigate such difficult waters.

One complaint.  I hate to sound like an old man, but even though it’s PG-13, the word “fuck” is used.  Seriously, what the fuck?  It’s used in a joke and the joke lands, ergo it’s not gratuitous but still, are there standards or what?  Either “fuck” gets you an R rating or it doesn’t.  Further complaint, “shit” seems to be really creeping into PG-13 movies and it’s like, what the hell, either these are movies that families can take their older kids to or they aren’t.

All that said, the movie was fucking good.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , ,

Daily Discussion with BQB – Is it Wrong to Look at Your Cell Phone in a Movie Theater?

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

As you know, I’ve posted extensively on movie theater etiquette, believing the theater is a place where certain rules of decorum must be followed and no one should be doing things that bring down the enjoyment of others.

Thus, you can imagine my surprise when I, your humble blog host, was accused of engaging in such an activity.

While watching a movie, I felt my phone buzz.  It was a text message.  I looked at the screen for literally all of a second when a piece of candy whizzed by my head, landing on the floor next to me.

The text was from a BQB associate who wanted a ride from me after the movie, letting me know not to leave without said person.  I figured I’d wait till after the movie to respond, but a couple more texts came, the person was jittery I guess, wanting to make sure I didn’t leave, so I thought I’d just text back a quick, “OK.”

Literally, one more second after I looked at the screen again, the guy yells, “Hey dickhead!  Put it away!”

Now, I usually don’t confront people when they act like dicks.  In my youth, I often threw rude drivers the middle finger, only to get older and realize I should stop or else risk flipping off a possible serial killer.

So honestly, I tend to let a lot of things go out of a) fear the person will go nuts and the situation will become a big problem and b) maybe the person already punished himself by looking like a dick in public anyway.

But this one irked me.  I shouted back some choice words for the fellow and he piped down.  I admit, I had already determined it was a person I had a fairly decent chance of defending myself against if things went awry, though in retrospect, I shouldn’t acknowledged it….I don’t advise that you 3.5 readers engage such folk because you never know what someone is capable of, whether they appear threatening or not.

Anyway, the texter texted again and this time I got up, walked out of the theater and into the hallway just to type “OK” and it pissed me off because had Jerkface McGee not intervened, I could have typed ok earlier and gotten it all done with.

So, let me ask you this, 3.5 readers?   Does it bother you when someone’s cell phone screen is on during a movie?  Does the light of the screen distract you?  Does it bother you?  Does it hinder your movie enjoyment?

I don’t make it a point of pulling out my cellphone but this was a rare situation and….I mean maybe if I left the screen on for five minutes, but the exact second when it comes on the candy gets whipped?  Are you kidding me?

I don’t know.  Maybe I should have embellished.  “Hey assface, can you stop throwing the candy at me?!  I just found out my wife is in labor!!!!”

Eh…but then why would I be in a movie?  I guess because I’m a lousy husband.  Actually, I really am a lousy husband.  I’m such a bad husband I haven’t even gotten married yet.

Discuss, 3.5 readers.

Tagged , ,

BQB’s Netflix Pick of the Week – Lost in Space

Danger 3.5 Will Robinsons.

I haven’t had the chance to check it out yet but previews look good.  Why don’t you 3.5 readers watch it and get back to me on whether or not it is worth my time.  I can’t do everything around here, you know.

Tagged , , ,

Movie Review – Chappaquiddick (2018)

Err…uh…I can’t err…uh believe that liberal Hollywood allowed this movie to be made, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with an…err…uh review.

It was the summer of 1969 and as America kept their eyes glued to the moon landing, i.e. the crowning achievement of former President John F. Kennedy’s support of the space program, another Kennedy was partying on an island off the coast of Massachusetts.

Ted was, for lack of a better term, the runt of the Kennedy litter.  Joseph Kennedy died a WWII veteran, John died when he was assassinated during his presidency, Robert died while running for president.  As Ted (Jason Clarke) states in the film, Joe was the favorite, John had the charm, Robert was brilliant and if you believe in odds, then that didn’t leave much for him.

Long story short, on the fateful night in question, Ted, with young campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne in his car, drives off a bridge.  He manages to escape but Mary Jo is left inside.  Rather than call the police for immediate help, he waits until the next morning to report the incident and well, as often happens, the cover up is worse than the crime.

Ted’s father, also named Joseph, a fabulously wealthy man who built a fortune as a bootlegger in the 1930s, is, at the time of the incident, a withered old stroke victim, little more than a disappointed expression glued on the face of a husk of a body.  He can barely get out a few words and when he does, it’s to let Ted know what a total letdown he is to the old man in comparison to his older, deceased brothers.

I hope I’m not spoiling this for anyone.  This is all old news for a politics junkie like me, but may be new to the general public.  I’ll admit I didn’t know a lot of the sordid details that went on behind the scenes in the ensuing “clean up.”

Joe Sr. maybe be physically useless, but his money, name and reputation still hold sway, and thus at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis, a cavalcade of the best political fixers of the 1960s convenes, each man copiously reviewing every last conceivable angle, leaving no stone unturned in an effort to remove Ted from any ability to be prosecuted.  Favors are called in, the media is manipulated, the judicial system is turned on its ear.

The most damning fact that the team had to contend with?  That Mary Jo had a large pocket of air left in the car, meaning that if Ted had simply called for help right away, the police could have rescued her.  Thus, the ongoing theme that sometimes politicians worry so much about how their political careers will be affected that they don’t do the right thing and this is unfortunate, as it is doing the right thing that often saves a political career.  Had Ted called the cops, the whole night could have been chalked up to a funny story where Ted made a wrong turn into the pond but luckily everyone escaped ok but instead…well, he did the wrong thing, a woman died, and in doing the wrong thing, he didn’t become president.

Another ongoing theme is that sometimes, not every member of a powerful or famous family is up to snuff.  Ted admits he lacks his brothers’ talents and yet feels overwhelming pressure to pursue politics – a life he wasn’t cut out for, a life that killed two of his brothers and causes him stress that he can’t endure, perhaps why he turned to alcohol and womanizing in life, though allegations of alcoholism and womanizing are merely danced around in this film.  The movie focuses on what it can prove and only tangentially mentions longtime rumors, speculation, etc i.e. that Ted and Mary Jo were having an affair, that Mary Jo was pregnant, that Ted was drunk the night of the accident.

Jason Clarke is a dead ringer for Ted, while comic actor Ed Helms plays Ted’s cousin/longtime confidant Joe Gargan (a Kennedy family extended member who according to this film, longs to be considered an actual Kennedy but feels like all he is ever asked to do his be Ted’s fixer).  Meanwhile, comedian Jim Gaffigan plays Ted’s other confidant, former U.S. Attorney Paul Markham.

It’s ironic that in this very powerful, dramatic film, an Australian is called on to play an American politician, while two comedians are tapped to play the senator’s associates.  Frankly, to me, this is a sign that Hollywood probably wasn’t thrilled about this movie being made.  While Ed Helms has long been working on his chance to cross over into drama, I doubt Jim Gaffigan, a comic who jokes about how he eats too much and who to date, his most famous movie role is being the “Meow” guy from “Super Troopers” would have had a chance to play a US Attorney/Kennedy colleague unless there wasn’t a line of actors at the studio’s door looking to snatch up the role.

At any rate, I don’t want to get political, but I think we can all agree Tinsel Town is a liberal place.  That puts the film industry in a tough position – make this movie and tell a very interesting story about how there’s a double standard in the law for the rich and powerful…hide the story to protect the reputation of an iconic left-leaning political family dynasty….don’t tell the story and in so doing, ignore the #metoo movement that’s been sweeping over Hollywood, i.e. people demanding that stories of women being hurt by the powerful be told….tell the story and admit that one of the Democratic party’s top senators for many decades was a womanizing lout who got off scot free on a rap that would have left anyone else in prison for life…this was a movie with a lot of ramifications and it’s being made probably didn’t make a lot of powerful people happy.

I’m not giving the right a pass…I’m just saying, this is a story that has been waiting to be told for fifty years.  I remember as a kid whenever Ted Kennedy would come on TV, I would make a joke about his voice, crack a joke about Chappaquiddick, “I err uh left a blond in the err uh pond” and inevitably some adult would tell me to shush because didn’t I think the Kennedy family had suffered enough already?

Yeah, but no one seemed to care about Mary Jo’s suffering…until today, when the media is finally willing to listen to stories about women suffering at the hands of powerful men.  A film that was made 50 years too late to get Mary Jo some justice, but at least it was finally made.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , ,

BQB Does Universal Studios

Hey 3.5 readers. If you were in Orlando today and saw a nerd with a yeti and an alien then…that was some other nerd with an alien and a yeti.

Anyway enjoy this expertly taken photograph of Optimus Prime:

Top Ten Quotes from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

1371251154

#10 – “I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.”

#9 – “Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before-more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”

#8 – “We need never be ashamed of our tears.”

#7 – “Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!”

#6 – “Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since – on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to displace with your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!”

#5 – “The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible. Once for all; I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. Once for all; I love her none the less because I knew it, and it had no more influence in restraining me, than if I had devoutly believed her to be human perfection.”

#4 – “I must be taken as I have been made. The success is not mine, the failure is not mine, but the two together make me.”

#3 – “That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”

#2 – “I looked at the stars, and considered how awful it would be for a man to turn his face up to them as he froze to death, and see no help or pity in all the glittering multitude.”

#1 – “You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since-on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with.”

Tagged , , , ,