Monthly Archives: August 2018

Arcade1Up Machines Look Awesome!

Check out Arcade1Up!

Check out Rerez’s review:

Hey 3.5 readers.  My better half, Video Game Rack Fighter, is off fighting a squadron of flying robot chimps, but she wanted me, BQB to bring this to your attention.

I’ve wanted to become an antique video game machine collector for awhile now.  I have fond memories of visiting arcades as a kid and think an arcade cabinet would be a cool show off piece for a nerd cave.

Problem is a) they’re expensive b) you’re pretty much own your own to repair them c) how the heck do you buy one, have them shipped, get the thing into your house and really, it just felt like it’s possible that I’d spend a ton of cash for something that would blow a fuse and become a really fancy coat rack.

A company, Arcade1Up, has apparently realized there’s a demand among nerds like myself.  They’re releasing a series of four foot tall arcade cabinets for $300 a pop.  Titles so far include Asteroids, Centipede, Rampage, Street Fighter II, Galaga – all available for pre-order now and Final Fight will be available in Spring.

My thoughts:

  1. Each game comes with other games loaded on it if you get tired of the main game.
  2. Four foot tall kinda defeats the purpose but you can grab a chair and sit down to play, or they do sell a riser box you can put the thing on so you can play it at standing height.
  3. I’m a little torn because ultimately, it all seems fun yet also all seems like a waste of money.  I stayed at a house once where there was an arcade game as a collector’s piece.  It was fun.  I didn’t spend too much time on it.  Once in awhile, I’d get up, go to the bathroom, play with it a bit, go to bed.  It seems like something that would be fun if say, you were a millionaire and could stomach the idea that one day the thing will break and you either need to junk it or scour the earth and hire an expert classic video game repairman or something.  These are much cheaper but are they as cool as say, the actual antiques?  I guess if you grab the riser and shove the thing in a corner, it’s a fun conversation piece.  Otherwise, I guess I can’t really justify spending $300 on a 1990s version of Street Fighter when it’s probably available online for peanuts and brand new games are available for your modern console for at least $60.
  4. I think they should make the cabinets so you can buy as many old games as you want and download them.  Wouldn’t that be a moneymaker?  Buy your cabinet machine with your favorite old school classic characters decorating it, put in your credit card, then download your favorite games at 99 cents a pop.  Oh well, I don’t know how to do that but if you know how to do it, feel free to do it and become rich.

Ultimately, I have a feeling I’m such a geek I’ll end up getting one.  First, why is there no Pac-Man and second, which one should I get?  My heart is torn between Rampage or Street Fighter. Rampage will be more fun.  Street Fighter more stylish.

That Final Fight looks good too so I could wait.  I don’t know if I’ll get one but if I do get one I will only get one.  I just don’t have the space to have 50 of these suckers lying around.  Just one, as the fun decoration I always wanted and maybe once in a blue moon I’ll get up in the middle of the night, take a poop, play Rampage, go back to bed.

Thoughts?

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I Paid Money to Hire this Nice Cue Card Lady…

…so every so often I have to play the video, which I think came out well:

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In Case You Missed It…Is Your Girlfriend a Ninja?

Lady ninjas.  They’re everywhere and men, they’re probably in your sex life.  Sure, your girlfriend pretends that she works in some normal occupation by day but rest assured, she’s a ninja by night.

Not convinced?  From April 2016, here’s a list of warning signs to look out for.

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I got nothing

Too busy working on Toilet Gator

Movie Review – BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Put on your bell bottoms, 3.5 jive turkeys.  It’s time for a review of Spike Lee’s latest joint.

It’s the 1970s and a young Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) has become the first black police officer on the Colorado Springs force.  Alas, his dreams of defeating villains with kung-fu moves gleamed from his favorite flicks come to a grinding halt when he’s assigned to the epically boring records room.

One day, whilst fending off boredom by reading a newspaper, he spots a recruitment ad for the Ku Klux Klan.  On a lark, he calls it, requests information on how to join and down the rabbit hole he goes.

Naturally, Ron can’t show up to a KKK meeting and expect to get out alive, so he teams up with fellow officer Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), a man whose Jewish heritage is also not looked at fondly by the Klan.

Together, Ron and Flip become two halves of one whole klansman.  Flip infiltrates the Colorado Springs chapter of the racist hate group in person, pretending to be a fellow hater of all non-white, non-Christians.  Meanwhile, Ron handles all phone communications with the klan on behalf of the made-up klansman, and even strikes up a long, ongoing telephone friendship with the head klansman, David Duke (Topher Grace), allowing Ron to obtain all sorts of info.  He also gets Flips back, tracking the baddies and helping out where he can from behind the scenes.

I won’t give too much away but suffice to say, it’s educational, thrilling, full of action, suspense and yes, even as you might imagine based on the premise, comedy.  A scene where a police sergeant matter of factly explains to Ron that he will likely be figured out if he shows up to a klan meeting as himself is one of the funnier parts of the film.

In my opinion, this is the greatest of all of Spike Lee’s films or “joints” as he calls them.  It’s a shame it was released in August as it does have Oscar potential, though who knows, perhaps the Academy will have a long memory this year.

Shout out to Washington, who nails it in this (as far as I know) his first major big screen role.  I could be wrong on that but at any rate this is a big breakthrough performance for him.  Adam Driver continues to prove that he does his best acting when he isn’t playing Kylo Ren and Topher Grace banks on his patented ability to play smarmy weasels.

One criticism.  Nick Turturro is a great actor and has long been a regular in Spike Lee joints.  I’m not faulting him or his abilities it’s just that he usually plays characters of either Italian or Hispanic descent, usually with a New York accent and, well, here he plays one of the klansmen.

In this day and age of social media outrage, I have to be clear.  It’s not that under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t want Nick to attend your dinner party or be part of your organization, it’s just that, in this case, you have a movie that’s exposing the inner workings of a group of people who hate anyone who isn’t a WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) and in that respect, it seems like a character played by Nick would be more likely to be lynched by the klan than to be embraced by them.

I don’t know.  Again, not faulting NT as he has a number of great performances, but I think in this film, he might have been better as a cop or in a non-klan role.

Come on.  Don’t send me angry letters.  “You don’t look like you belong in the KKK” is a compliment.

A final thought – one (of many) positive messages I took from this film is that when people from different backgrounds come together, they can achieve great things.  Ron came up with the idea to infiltrate the KKK, but to pull it off, he needed Flip, as well as other police officers who assisted with equipment, surveillance, etc.

In other words, I hope one day we can reach a point where it isn’t about color or race or religion but rather, just good people doing good and keeping bad people at bay.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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I’m Depressed that No One Will Support My Bidet Initiative

What, are all 3.5 of you in Charmin’s pocket?

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Movie Review – The Voices (2015)

Your dog says behave.  Your cat says be bad.  What to do?  Why, read this review, of course.

SPOILER ALERT – I can’t really get into much of this film without giving it all away, so for now, if you haven’t seen it and your stomach isn’t turned by the thought of guts, gore, murder and also, the fact that somehow this is a comedy (a dark one) then go ahead and watch it on Netflix, then report back here to discuss in the comments.

I caught this at random, just searching through Netflix for something to watch and was surprised that I had never heard of this one.  It’s got Ryan Reynolds and Anna Kendrick and it’s been out for so long yet it fell below my radar.

Moreover, Ryan Reynolds does some honest to God acting in this flick.  You laugh, but I think that even Double-R would admit he has been depending on a snarky, over confident, self-absorbed schtick for a long time now.

Here, RR plays someone different, nay, three someones.  First, he’s Jerry, a shy, socially awkward bathtub factory worker.  To his coworkers, he’s a bit of an odd duck yet still a member of the team.

In his personal life, he’s clearly bananas.  Living in an apartment above a bowling alley, he talks to his pets – Bosco the dog and Mr. Whiskers the cat.  Bosco is Jerry’s good side so naturally, the cat is the villain.  Bosco advises Jerry to behave while Mr. Whiskers urges Jerry to give in to his deepest, darkest impulses.

Usually, Bosco wins, until a fateful night when Jerry scores a date with the babe of his dreams, Fiona (Gemma Arterton).  Alas, Jerry accidentally kills Fiona and Mr. Whiskers takes advantage of this to push Jerry over the line and urge him to kill again, this time on purpose.

Potentially in the crosshairs is Lisa (Anna Kendrick), another coworker who has harbored a longtime crush on Jerry.  Her fate will depend on whether Jerry starts paying more attention to his good pet or his bad pet.

From a writing standpoint (and look away for this is a big SPOILER), Jerry’s medication plays a big role from a “show, don’t tell” perspective.  Prior to the chaos, Jerry has been seeing Dr. Warren (Jacki Weaver) for treatment related to a traumatic childhood.

She urges Jerry to take his medication.  When he doesn’t, his world is happy, calm, peaceful.  He believes he has a pretty comfortable, sweet life, living in a nice, swanky apartment with his best four-legged buds.  Heck, the dismembered head of Fiona, now kept in his fridge, even talks to him, saying all the sweet nothings he longed to hear from her.

What happens when he takes the medication?  Reality sets in, and it’s a grim one.  The apartment isn’t a nice place to live at all.  It’s filled to the brim with filth – dog and cat poop, unwashed dishes, various warning signs that this wack job has not been taking care of himself for quite some time, as well as the bloody remains of his victim.  Worse for Jerry, his pets don’t even talk.  They’re just a cat and a dog.  And yikes!  Fiona is no longer a happy go lucky talking head but as you might have guessed, a silent, rotting head.

As Dr. Warren later explains with advice that could help everyone, no matter their level of crazy, most people hear “voices” though to most people, those “voices” come across as thoughts – ideas of self-loathing, disappointment, urges to do bad things and most people know well enough to push those thoughts aside and not be consumed by them.  Others, like Jerry, hear literal voices and create false worlds to avoid reality.

Scary, dark, funny though it seems like it shouldn’t be, the film has, surprisingly, a good message about facing reality, warts and all, learning to accept ourselves, rally around our strengths, forgive ourselves for our weaknesses, confront problems rather than pretend they aren’t there, to not live in a fantasy land because improving the real world around is often too hard.

It’s a good film where Ryan actually convinces me that he’s shy and awkward even though he’s anything but and to boot, he hams it up as an angelic dog and devilish cat.

It’s a good flick that probably deserved a little more critical acclaim than it got so its worth a watch, unless you aren’t into comedies about crazy men who talk to heads and killer kitties, then you know, don’t watch it.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Daily Discussion with BQB – The Oscars Add Best Popular Film Category

You know, 3.5 readers, I’m actually old enough to recall when it wasn’t entirely impossible for a popular film to also be an Oscar film.  Sure, even when I was younger, the Oscars were known for pretentious snobbery, but movies like “Braveheart” or “The Departed” were well received by the public as well as having Oscar potential.

This is new category is laden with tacit admissions: 1) They’re admitting the films they nominate are basically just high falutin’ tripe 2) they’ll never, ever give the gold to a comic book movie.

You might forget that “The Dark Knight” was nominated for Best Picture in 2008 and funny, it was added to Netflix recently.  I rewatched it over the weekend and was struck at how relevant it is  – how longstanding evil can’t be defeated without great sacrifice, how sometimes defeating evil requires a man to get down into the muck, how there has to be darkness before there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, plus the immortal debate over whether or not all men are corruptible given the right circumstances.

Didn’t win.  Had an asshole dressed as a bat.

My guess as to why are they doing this? 1) Back in the day, people would actually become fans of a film and would watch the Oscars to see if their favorite movie wins.  Why, I recall people openly debating which films were the best…because they’d seen them.

No one saw the films this past year and if they did, the convo would be, “What, you think the film about the deaf woman who fucks a fish monster is better than the film about the grad student who statutorily rapes his employer’s teenage son?  How dare you?!”

Second, there is a movement in all walks of life for minorities to be treated equally everywhere and that should be no different in film.  So…the issue is that Oscar films usually deal with heavy subjects, so if a movie featuring black people wins, the black people are usually portrayed as slaves, or downtrodden, poor, caught in an oppressive system…and it’s not that I’m saying those films aren’t important but…

…oh well the hell.  They’re probably doing this because they want “Black Panther” to win an Oscar but they can’t bring themselves to give a gold statue for best picture to a movie about superheroes, even if the movie was able to use sci fi and comic book elements that a) appeal to young people and b) do a better job of explaining the historical arguments of how to obtain civil rights for African Americans.

Honestly, an argument could be made that BP deserves Best Pic outright and this could be Oscar night’s one chance to say hey, we aren’t snooty, we gave it to a super hero film.

But they just can’t do it.

Besides the Black Panther argument, black people (well, I don’t mean to speak for them so if I have any black readers feel free to educate me but I think I’m right)…they don’t ALWAYS want to watch TV and see black people as either slaves or downtrodden people.  Sometimes they want to see black people living life, having fun, going on adventures and so on.  To that end, a movie like “Girls Trip” might take home some gold.

Aside from the “Oscars So White” issue, I think the Academy is wrestling with its view that popular and/or comic booky/action/comedy/horror or fun or blockbuster popcorn films are taking on more and more social issues.  “Captain America: Winter Soldier” for example looked into whether we are sacrificing our right to privacy by putting so much of our lives onto the Internet – data for the government to mine and use and abuse.

I know the Academy prefers their precious, snooty little films about Cold War fish fucking but it wouldn’t hurt them to just give the award to a super hero movie one time…especially one like BP with a lot of cultural significance…and then they could go on to give the film to a snooty fish fucking film next year.

In the early 2000s, they gave the gold to one of the LOTR films, a popular, high grossing film, and then went on to give it to snooty films in following years.

What say you, 3.5 readers?

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Swordfish (2001)

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Halle Berry’s titties.

For years, that’s all I remembered about this film – that (those?) and also that it seemed kind of dumb at the time.

In the early 2000s, you couldn’t have asked for a better collection of actors.  John Travolta was knee deep in his “Pulp Fiction” career recovery.  Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry were fresh off of being X-Men (Wolverine and Storm, respectively).  Meanwhile, Don Cheadle was in, well, everything.

But…sometimes you can take a bunch of awesome things, like graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate and create something awesome, like s’mores.  And sometimes you can take some awesome things, like pizza, beer and an all night dance party and end up puking your guts out.

In other words, the actors were great but the plot sort of came across as though a bunch of writers got together and said, “Let’s just bypass this whole plot thing and have a lot of awesome explosions, action and get Halle Berry to gratuitously flash her funbags for no reason.

Interestingly enough, I caught this on Netflix after having not seen it since I did in the movie theater oh so many years ago.  And for the first hour or so, I recalled why I thought the movie blew chunks in the first place.

Jackman plays Stanley Jobson, supposedly the world’s greatest hacker, currently on parole after pissing off the government with his hackery.  With a life reduced to poverty, he’s forced into becoming a hacker for Gabriel (Travolta) a mysterious, off-the-books, anti-terrorist operation runner.

The idea sounds awesome in theory but in practice, it’s a lot of just running around, things exploding, Halle Berry eating Twizzlers in a bizarre effort to seem interesting (she already was and didn’t need candy), and Travolta chewing scenery as he hams up his (to the best of my recollection) first villain role with great relish and gusto.

Well, if it sucks then why am I recommending it?  Because, in hindsight, the last half of the film is eerily prophetic.

You see, this film was released in the summer of 2001, a mere three months before the 9/11 attack.  For most of the film, Gabriel comes across as a psychopath who just wants Jobson to use his hacking skills to score some cash.

However, we learn (spoiler) that Gabriel was never just a bank robber, but in fact, he’s running his own anti-terror unit.  As he explains, any time a terrorist attacks American interests, he’ll use the cash to fund his own private Army that will hit the terrorists back tenfold.  Why, if he learns that countries are harboring terrorists, he’ll hit those countries back as well.  Uncle Sam doesn’t want to get his hands dirty, so he’ll do it for him.

Three months before 9/11, the idea was sort of a throwaway.  Sure there were terrorist attacks for years before 9/11, and Americans were vaguely aware of the existence of Osama Bin Laden due to attacks on American embassies in Africa and on the USS Cole, for example.

But the idea that a 9/11 could happen was inconceivable.

At the end of the film, Gabriel tries to convince Stanley that he was never the bad guy.  He poses a question to Stanley – if it were possible to develop a cure to all diseases known to man, but in doing so, one child would have to die, would Stanley do it?

Stanley answers no.  It would be immoral to let the child die.  Gabriel argues that it would be immoral to let so many die just to save one life.  The greater good.

Yes, three months before 9/11 I was just a young adult in the early part of my life, happy go lucky and carefree and I wrote the film off as just a fun diversion and a chance to see some delicious caramel flavored titties.

What I wouldn’t realize until 17 years later is that this relatively obscure action flick posed, right before 9/11, the great question that has plagued, and alas, even torn this country apart, namely – how hard is too hard when it comes to fighting terrorism?  Is it moral to go to war overseas in the hope of stopping it?  Is it moral not to, knowing that if terrorists are rooted out of hiding, they may kill Americans at home?

Whether it is moral to bring the fight to the terrorists or to just live life and accept terrorism as just another sad part of life (i.e. “the new normal”) has been the main source of feuding between conservatives and liberals for nearly two decades now.

Terrorists hiding in other countries.  America fighting back.  Shadow ops to take the baddies out.

Sigh.  We had an early warning in the most unlikely of places, that being a cockamamie action film that rested largely on fake CGI action and real titties.

Very real titties.

I love you Halle.  You tried to save America with your titties and never got the credit you deserve…until now.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy…mainly for the second half and only if you think about the questions raised by the second half in the context that this film was released three months before 9/11.

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