Saturday, August 18, 2012

Quick Break: Selling Comics!

So, a quick break from the normal reviews because I need a simple webpage to steer people to with this information.

I'm selling off a comic collection that I bought years ago. I've been trying (and failing) to sell off the comics for about six years now so I'm really ready for them to be gone. I'm making a big effort this time to get them out of the house! In addition, I racked up about $1,000 in medical bills last month because of an emergency room visit, so I really need to get some extra money to deal with that.

To that end, I'm making a Google Docs spreadsheet with everything that's available. It has ordering information, shipping fees and everything listed there. I'll update once a day to make sure that it stays accurate with what is still available.

They're all priced fairly, most of them are $1 or less.

Here's a list of the titles I have for sale, so that you know to go look!

2000 A.D. Showcase
2001: A Space Odyssey
Alpha Flight
Alpha Flight Annual
Amazing Spider-Man Annual
Amethyst Princess of Gemworld
Amy Papuda
Avengers Spotlight
Axel Press Button
Batman - Judge Dredd Judgement on Gotham
Batman (in Portguese)
Batman and other DC Classics
Beauty and the Beast
Berni Wrightson Master of the Macabre
Blade Runner
Blue Ribbon Comics
Buffy Season 8
Captain Harlock
Captain Justice
Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future
Cardcaptor Sakura
Cat Claw
Code Name: Danger
Conan the Barbarian
Crimson Plague
D.P. 7 (New Universe)
Dakota North Investigations
Damage Control
Dare the Impossible
Darklon the Mystic
Deep Space Nine/Star Trek The Next Generation
Destroyer: The Adventures of Remo And Chiun
Dirty Pair
Dirty Pair Book Three: A Plague of Angels
Dirty Pair II
DNAgents (The New)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme
Donald Duck
Elektra Assassin
ElfQuest Kings of the Broken Wheel
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser
Falcon (The)
Fallen Angels
Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four Annual
Fantastic Four Versus the X-Men
First (The)
Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe
G.I. Joe
G.I. Joe Special Missions
Gargoyle (The)
Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider (1982)
Gunsmith Cats: Mister V
Havok & Wolverine Meltdown
Hercules: Prince of Power
Howard the Duck
Human Fly
Impossible Man Annual, The
Incredible Hulk
Indiana Jones (The Further Adventures of)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Iron Man
Judge Dredd
Justice (New Universe)
Kazar the Savage (1981)
Kickers Inc.
Kitty Pryde and Wolverine
Knights of Pendragon
Last One, The
Last Starfighter
Law of Dredd
Legion Lost
Legion Worlds
Lum (Urusei Yatsura)
Machine Man
Machine Man (1984)
Man-Thing, The
Marc Spector: Moon Knight
Mark Hazzard: Merc
Marvel Age
Marvel Comics Presents
Marvel Fanfare
Marvel Premiere Featuring Doctor Who
Marvel Saga
Marvel Super Action
Marvel Super-Heroes
Marvel Team-Up
Marvel Two-In-One
Master of Kung Fu
Masters of the Universe
Micronauts Annual
Micronauts The New Voyages
Mighty Thor, The
Moon Knight
Muppets Take Manhattan
Namor: The Sub-Mariner
Nemesis the Warlock
New Talent Showcase
New Warriors
Next Man
Nick Fury Agent of Shield
Nightmask (1986)
Ninja High School
No-Prize Book
Nth Man
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Update '89
One, The
Power Man and Iron Fist
Power Pack
Prince Namor: The Sub-Mariner
Psi Force (1984)
Psi Force Annual
Psi Judge Anderson
Punisher War Journal
Punisher, The (1989)
Quasar (1989)
Questprobe (1985)
Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight
Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit's Tale
Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch
Record of Lodoss War: The Lady of Pharis
Robotech Defenders (1985)
Rocket Raccoon
Rom Spaceknight
Savage She-Hulk
Secret Wars (Marvel Super-Heroes)
Secret Wars II
Sensational She-Hulk
Shadow Lady
Shadowmen, The
Silver Sufer Annual (1989)
Sisterhood of Steel
Six from Sirius (1984)
Solo Avengers starring Hawkeye (1987)
Spider-Man 2099
Spitfire and the Troubleshooters (1986)
Squadron Supreme (1985)
Star Brand (1986)
Star Brand Annual
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Wars
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Starjammers (X-Men Spotlight On)
Strange Tales (1987)
Strikeforce Morituri
Strikeforce Morituri Electric Undertow
Super-Villain Team-Up
Superboy (The New Adventures of)
Sword of Solomon Kane
Swords of the Swashbucklers
Tales of the Teen Titans
Team America
Terminator, The
The Saga of Crystar Crystal Warrior
Thing, The
Time Bandits
US 1
V: The Visitors Are Our Friends
Vision and the Scarlet Witch
Walt Disney's Comics and Stories
Warp Graphics Annual
Warriors of Plasm
Web of Spider-Man Annual
West Coast Avengers, The
What if...
What the...
Wild C.A.T.S.
Wild Cards
X-Factor Annual
X-Files Annual
X-Files Digest
X-Files, Special Edition
X-Files, The
X-Men (Classic)
X-Men and Alpha Flight
X-Men and the Micronauts
X-Men Annual
X-Men Vs. The Avengers

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why I need you to think before you vote

So, I want you to do something with me. I'm going to take you back, not too far back, but back into some recent history.

2005 to be exact.

You don't need too many details to picture me, because I'm pretty typical. In fact, I fit nearly every majority in America. I'm white, I'm Christian, and I grew up middle class in a small town in the South. So really, white Christian girl, I'm sure you've got a frame of reference for that. We're everywhere.

When the year 2005 opens, I was a college educated woman living on my own, working full time for just enough money to pay my bills and cover my debts, but not enough to save any money.

I was doing okay, making ends meet somehow and all that. And then I got engaged! Shortly after announcing my engagement, right in the midst of planning the wedding and my move to the other end of the state, I was let go from my job.

Have you ever looked for a job when you know you'll be leaving town in less than six months? Nobody wants to hire you, and they certainly won't pay you enough to pay off student loans, credit card payments, rent, and grocery bills. Forget health care.

So for six months, I had to live off of the kindness of family and friends. My student loans were deferred, racking up interest while I couldn't pay them. My credit card bills were suddenly only getting paid at the bare minimum and their interest rates spiked up to almost 30% APR. My credit rating was taking a slow nose dive, but through the generosity of family and friends, along with my fiance, I survived.

I got married in September, and I moved to where I live now, in Northern Virginia. Because my work history was suddenly quite spotty, and I had no reference from my last job, I ended up taking a retail job with a company I had been working part time with for years.

I don't remember how long it was before my insurance kicked in. I don't even remember if I got insurance through my job or my husband's. I just know that for most of 2005, I was without health insurance because I either had no job, or I was waiting to be added to a new policy.

In the meantime, I was a newlywed. A newlywed with a difficult financial situation, and a job with little to no security and odd hours. This was not a time where we could have properly cared for children, even if we wanted to start a family. In addition to that, I have a very long family history of cancer, and thus I take whatever option I have available for early detection.

This may come as a shock to a lot of Americans today, but there was only one option available to me that would help with this situation: Planned Parenthood.

At the time, it wasn't even a difficult decision. I needed health care and cancer screenings. I needed to take control of my body and my fertility in order to make sure that we could recover from the bad situation I had created that year. There was only one place that offered those services in my area, and that was Planned Parenthood.

So, I'm going to remind you of what I said in the top of this entry: I am a white, Christian, straight, middle-class woman with a Bachelor's degree. At the time, both my husband and I were employed full time. And I needed the services of Planned Parenthood, because there was no other way for me to get what I needed to help make my future a more stable one.

The reason I bring this up to you is because both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have clearly stated that it is their mission to take that away from every American women. They can frame it however they want, you can make whatever excuses you want, but this is the reality: defunding Planned Parenthood, denying access to birth control, and not allowing women the rights to make their own personal choices is going to hurt women like me.

You can talk all you want about abortions (which is not what Planned Parenthood does, I tell you from personal experience and known FACT that this is not their mission) but you're not stopping abortions (which are legal) but hurting women and men who want to make sure that they're ready for children before they have them.

You can say you're limiting birth control from "whores" and "sluts" but you're also denying birth control to married couples who want to plan their children so they can give the next generation the brightest future possible.

You can say that people can pay for their own pills, that there are other options out there, but there aren't. In many places, places I have lived, places I have been, there are not other options.

If you're trying to imagine the type of woman who goes to Planned Parenthood, the type of woman who needs birth control, the type of woman who will be severely hurt by Romney and Ryan's proposals, then here you go, I'll give you that image again:

I am a white, Christian, married woman. I married a man I had been dating for five and a half years. I grew up with small town values and a middle class life. I might just look like you, or your daughter, or your cousin, or friend. Generally every choice I have made with my life is the choice that conservatives are saying I should make.

And I needed Planned Parenthood.

So when you vote for Mitt Romney, or you support those who wish to defund Planned Parenthood or limit access to birth control for ALL women, I want you to know what you are doing.

You are voting against me. You are walking into that booth and you are saying that you are okay with hurting the majority of American women in order to hurt the ones you don't like.

You are vocally stating that all of these other women are acceptable collateral damage to whatever it is you think is worth this. The media, the pundits, the politicians, they're trying to make this about something else. They're pretending that a certain type of woman goes to Planned Parenthood, that a certain type of woman uses birth control. I am standing here right now telling you that they are wrong. Every type of woman goes to Planned Parenthood. Many types of woman use birth control.

And those women are the ones who will suffer if Mitt Romney is elected.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Don't forget to check the "supernatural rewatch" tag to see all the posts in this series!

Scarecrow: On the one hand, the actual plot of Scarecrow sounds pretty lame on paper. But somehow this episode really works, and it delves into a lot of great aspects of the world. Plus it has a surprise visit from William B. Davis, which is always nice.

By the end of the episode we're back to a girl being in mortal danger and having to get saved by the brothers never to be seen again, but hey, we had a good break there, right?

The things this episode does best actually don't have to do with the main plot of the townspeople and the bad demon of the week. It's about Sam and Dean, and their relationship with their father. John Winchester's phone call at the beginning highlights the differences between Sam and Dean perfectly, and while I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt that was the start of my intense dislike for John. Sam might be a little unrealistic with his wants sometimes, and yes sometimes you just have to listen to authority and they know what's best. But Sam very rarely, if ever, asks for anything out of line. He just wants to be informed, and given at least the semblance of a choice. And he wants revenge on a demon that killed his girlfriend and mother, who can blame him?

With this episode we also get the appearance of Meg, who is so obviously bad news from the moment you meet her that I'm hoping the creators weren't even bothering to try to pretend she was just a normal girl. Because if they thought the reveal at the end was a reveal, they're kind of naive.

But you can't sell the demon of the week short either. He's pretty terrifying, and I was especially impressed when it didn't go exactly as I expected either. I think the story was really built on the acting, and everybody in this episode did a good job. Stories about a small town that secretly sacrifices people for their own prosperity aren't really uncommon, but this one was a very well done version.

Faith: I absolutely loved this episode. I'm not even sure I can explain why, but it was amazing, even if it did have our token chick of the week. I forgive her because it was Julie Benz. And also because she never actually asked for the brother's to help her, she was beyond their help, really.

Dean goes through a lot in this episode, and while I partially was disappointing that the "Dean is going to die and that is traumatizing" emotional arc for Sam consisted of the first what, fifteen minutes of the episode? At the same time, the emotions that Dean was forced to deal with were much more interesting anyway. He can't figure out why he's still alive, and doesn't want to deal with the fact that he was chosen to live, or what the cost of that miracle was once he discovers it.

Then he also has to decide if it's okay to save the girl or not, and it's one of the first times we've seen him so conflicted, even if most of it wasn't expressed completely in the episode. You could tell that the emotion and the feeling was there. Hats off to Jensen Ackles.

There's a lot of seriously good storytelling and character building going on in this episode, not to mention the layering of the mythology of their world. Now that we know that death can be controlled, even at great price, who or what will go after that next? How long will it take before the brothers start to wonder if that's a power worth having if one of them is hurt? How will Papa Winchester react if he hears about it (since he doesn't really react to Sam's phone call about Dean at all, that also begs the question, where was he and what was going on?)

This episode is so very much like the best of the classic X-Files episodes, and I mean that as a high compliment.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Just do a quick double check

Warning: This post features a long discussion about suicide/suicidal thoughts/suicide attempts.

I'm kind of in love with Tumblr right now. It's a fun site, and I like that there's lots of silly pictures from things I love.

But it's also brought to the forefront my frustration with people repeating and proliferating lies, or stories without citations or any reason to believe they are true.

Sometimes, it's something ridiculous and silly. An image of Sigourney Weaver landing a nearly impossible basketball throw in an Alien movie is captioned that it wasn't a special effect, she really made the shot, on her first try.

A lot of things about that seem too good to be true, and in this case I knew that she actually made the shot but that it hadn't been on her first try. The kicker though? The actual cited source for the image, the video the image is actually TAKEN FROM, starts out with a slate. The slate clearly reads take four.

The evidence that the caption was wrong is RIGHT THERE. And yet tens of thousands of people have reblogged the image and caption, and probably now are convinced this is the gospel truth and will repeat it to others.

Oh well, another one for the heaps of fake on set information in the history books.

But sometimes, the errors are actually kind of dangerous. In another hugely popular post, a person posts that "a journalist" interviewed every person who had jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived. The post continues that every single person, all of them, with no exceptions (they're very clear on this) realized after they jumped that all of their problems could be solved except for the fact that they just jumped.

Maybe the intention of this post is good. But there is almost nothing about it that's actually true.

A journalist did talk to a lot of people who attempted suicide and survived. Including several people who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm having trouble finding the article again now, but I've read it. It's a very poignant and moving read. But the conclusions are not nearly so simple and uplifting as "everybody realized they could solve their problems."

At least one person who survived jumping returned to jump again. The quote about realizing everything was solvable is actually attributed to only one survivor. Others had different things to say, different experiences, and different reactions. You know, because they are human beings.

The conclusion that the article reaches is actually layered. First, they show that a suicide barrier on a bridge or popular suicide spot will drastically reduce suicides OVERALL. Opponents of suicide barriers on the Golden Gate frequently say that people will just "go somewhere else" or "do something else." But they won't, and there's a variety of ways that's been proven.

Second, they show that there are different types of suicide attempts and that the people who attempt different methods actually can be categorized, somewhat. Obviously there's nothing that's always 100% (part of what made the original post a red flag, the use of "every") but in general certain methods are favored by people who become suicidal on an impulse, rather than a long standing and deeply rooted issue.

That's vastly oversimplifying, but the theory is basically that some people (SOME) are actually suffering from an impulse control issue, and that by making it more difficult for them to satisfy that impulse (via a barrier for example) then you actually give them the time to think it over and get past the point of the impulse. Those people, when they survive, are rarely again faced with the same situation. They don't attempt multiple times.

Others have suicidal thoughts coming from a very different place, a place where it becomes a planned and premeditated act. Those people are much more difficult to save, and the article didn't really get into that because it wasn't what they were really talking about. But they did point out that basically no one who fits that category would say that the moment they felt they were going to die, their problems could be solved.

There's real harm that is perpetuated by repeating this false story. First, because it misrepresents the authors actual intent and their conclusions. Second, because it equates mental illness to a "problem" that you can just "solve" or "get over." Mental illness is a medical condition that needs medical treatment of some kind. It's not just a silly little problem, any more than cancer or diabetes or Parkinson's is just a "problem." You can't just solve it or get over it, any more than a person with MS can just think positively and be well again. The myth that mental illness is just a state of mind that can be controlled is literally killing people, and ruining lives in America every day. And even by trying to help them with this quote, you're contributing to that.

Lastly, imagine a person who has attempted suicide multiple times. Who has never felt this moment of epiphany that supposedly "everyone" has. What exactly is the message they're going to get from this quote? They won't find it uplifting or helpful or nice or kind or anything. They'll see it as another sign that they aren't doing something right, that if they were "normal" they wouldn't feel this way because "everybody" feels that way.

So really, the long and short of this is simple: check your source before you just start spreading information around. If something uses a generalization, LOOK IT UP. Anything that uses words like "always," "every," and "none" should be suspect. Over Independence Day, a picture circulated with a story that the real Statue of Liberty was meant to be black because it was supposed to be about slavery. That was completely false on every level, and yet people were latching onto it and saying "UGH! Americans and their RACISM." Listen, Americans can be pretty racist and our history is full of it, you really don't need to make something up, just look at Woodrow Wilson and get back to me.

Don't believe everything you read, be a smart media consumer. Learn how to look up corroborating articles and read the cited sources. Don't be lazy, learning and reading is fun anyway! And you'll learn even more new awesome things!

Book Review: Jaws

After watching Jaws for what I assumed was the first time last month, I really wanted to get my hands on anything and everything related to the film. So I immediately got the original book from the library.

I've heard a lot about the book from various sources. Articles have frequently detailed the man subplots of the book that didn't make it to the screen. But the most intruiging thing for me was the idea that the two executives that optioned the book both read it in one night. Later one of them pointed out that if they had read it twice they never would have bothered because they would have realized how hard a book it would be to adapt.

I wanted to know what kind of book would capture a producer like that, and if it really was obvious how difficult it was going to be. It took me two nights to finish it, but it really is an amazingly fast read. But I have to admit there was at least one large chunk that I just skipped (I'll get to that later).

Parts of the book are really compelling. Anything from the point of view of the shark is interesting, and really works. The character of Harry Meadows, the newspaper editor, is all but erased in the film version but is a main character in the book. He's interesting, and I liked having his point of view. He's a character that actually exists between the two extremes of wanting to close the beaches, and wanting to save the town at all costs.

Other parts are really dated, and in a way that makes it kind of hard to get through some sections. It's not even just the science that's presented, much of which has been proven wrong since the book's release, but the way the characters deal with race is especially bothersome. And while homosexuality is actually a topic in the book (to my surprise) it's treated in a way that comes across very poorly, it feels a bit exploitative, like Benchley was striving very hard to be a pulp novel and so he had to include some "deviance" in it. The scattered mentions of marijuana use come across the same way. Like it was to try to make things "edgy" instead of important to anything at all in the plot.

The class distinctions between the "summer people" and the natives of Amity actually are the thing the book does best, and even that isn't perfect. It gets to feel a lot like telling and not showing half the time. Everybody talks all the time about the differences, but the only places where it really comes out and shows are my least favorite sections because they're the ones that make Brody look terrible and make his wife Ellen in to the least sympathetic character I've read in a long time.

SPOILER ALERT: I'll be revealing plot points about the book in the next few paragraphs, but I think they're bad plot points and I knew them going in and it didn't completely ruin the book so I don't think it's a huge deal.

A lot has been said about two subplots in the book that aren't in the film. First, that the mayor of the town is actually in debt to the mob and that's why he wants to keep the town open. I could have done without it, but only because half the time the set up for the revelation is very clunky. Brody walks around all the time asking everybody "Who are the mayor's partners? Do you know who the mayor's partners are? I'm beginning to wonder about the mayor's partners." It lacks subtlety but it's still a good motivation.

Meanwhile, Ellen Brody is actually a "summer person" who married an islander. So she spends the entire book being depressed that she's no longer rich, frivolous, and popular. She married Brody with full knowledge of what she'd be giving up and yet she keeps spending all of his money on useless stuff like expensive wine glasses and clothes, or trying to convince him that their sons need to take tennis lessons so that they can have "opportunities" which is code for "hang out with rich people."

She's so obsessed with regaining her place in the upper class that she runs off to a hotel with Hooper, the ichthyologist that came to town to help them figure out their shark problem. The portion of the book that is about her affair is the one I skipped most of because it's TERRIBLE. I cannot stress enough how weird and out of place this entire section is. It goes back to the pulp novel aspirations, pulp novels have kinky sex in them and so Ellen and Hooper go off to a restaurant where they talk about rape fantasies and orgies, then they go off to have sex themselves. And Ellen's description of their one-time affair is actually pretty disturbing and makes you wonder what in the world Hooper is even supposed to be about. It muddled both of their characters so much that I'd rather neither existed. And by extension, it messed with Brody to the point where I no longer cared about him anymore because the man with the righteous need to protect the citizens, even at the cost of his own job, became somebody that just constantly got defensive about not being rich and suspicious of Hooper.

All I can say is thank goodness the movie had the sense to drop both bits and actually make them sympathetic, because I was definitely cheering for the shark when Hooper went into the shark cage. I only regret that Ellen couldn't have joined him.

Anyway, all of that being said, I still think the book is worth a read if you liked the film. But you have to recognize when it was written and what kind of book it really is. If you go in expecting it to be like the film, you'll be disappointed. If you go in expecting a late 70's paperback novel, then you'll get what you paid for and then some.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

DVD Review: Babylon 5: The Lost Tales

When I talk to people about how much I love J. Michael Stracyzinski, one thing I frequently mention is that I don't know that he knows how to end things.

The perfect case in point is The Lost Tales. I understand completely what he was trying to do, and what limitations he had put on him. But when everybody was excited that he might do more B5 projects, secretly I've always cringed at the thought. "After" isn't always his strongest suite, as evidenced by some of the official epilogue short stories he's written.

Babylon 5 was an amazing thing, and as I've said many times, one of my favorite pieces of television ever. But the thing about B5 is that it's an epic story, meant to be contained to a specific piece of that epic. It's brilliant, interesting, and well told. But there are parts of it that don't always hold up under scrutiny, and the easiest way to create scrutiny is to expand the universe. Ask George Lucas or the Wachowskis, the more you tell about your universe, the more inconsistencies the audience will find.

Babylon 5 is no different, and The Lost Tales is one of the worst offenders. The first half, which focuses on Lochley, is convoluted and confusing. The show was always one that frequently talked about religion and spirituality but never came down on any one side or another. In fact, it frequently found a science-fiction explanation for religious miracles (time travel creates a deity, angels are actually aliens, etc). The show was never scornful of religion, but it never really made a stance that religion was fact just that sometimes faith is important and fanaticism is bad.

Which is why the first story about a demon possession on B5 is just too much. There is no part of this story that works for me, but especially the "twist" of the end which was no twist at all. It doesn't really explore any characters, it doesn't do anything for anybody, and it creates a mythology that was never there before.

The second story, which features President Sheridan and a Centauri prince, is much better and fits with the universe so much more. For one thing, it gives us a glimpse at another Centauri perspective outside of Londo or Vir. We see far reaching consequences to the actions we saw them take in the series, and we see the possibility of far reaching consequences to the actions taken in this episode. The first half ends up affecting nothing. The second half changes everything.

There used to be rumors about a feature film about the Telepath War, and I still would like to see that because I feel like it's the part of the expanded universe that JMS knows best, and set up the most. I wish that he had done that instead of River of Souls, Thirdspace, Crusade, Legend of the Rangers, or The Lost Tales. Because with each extra project, the legacy and the power of Babylon 5 was chipped away a little more. Now it would be extremely difficult to put together the money and the cast to do the story of the Telepath War, and it probably has the most chance of being something that brings the show together and creates an ending that we would all love. If all we'd had after the show was In The Beginning and The Telepath War, it would be hard for any franchise to challenge it's place. But like every other franchise I can think of, epilogue after epilogue took more away than it could have added.

"DVD" Review: Jurassic Park

I can't even tell you how happy I was to find out that my local theater was going to be playing Jurassic Park on the big screen a few weeks ago. I hadn't seen it in theaters since it came out in 1993.

I was very, very in love with this movie when it was first released. Like almost every kid, I went through a dinosaur phase, though it had passed by that age. But that little thrill of being a kid and seeing dinosaurs come to life never really goes away, does it?

The other amazing thing about Jurassic Park is that this is the movie that made me love Stephen Spielberg. You see, before this point, I had loved a lot of his movies and E.T. was still this very important memory to me.

But this was the first time that I was old enough and aware enough that I finally made a connection between all of those movies and realized that one man was really responsible for them. This was my awakening to directing and what it really meant.

Plus, come one, it had a LOT of awesome dinosaurs.

So when I was in middle school and this movie came out, I had the student planner, I had t-shirts, I probably had a lunch box. Trading cards, I went for the whole merchandising thing. I still have some of that stuff.

Like a lot of kids and geeky movie buffs of the time, I was really impressed with the CGI in the film. But over the years, I grew more than a little disenchanted with computer generated imagery. It never felt real like it did then, it didn't blend, it felt like a way to cut corners rather than a way to tell a better story. So after a while, I was much more impressed with the T-Rex than anything else. The puppetry was the real star.

Which is why Jurassic Park still holds up today. There were very few things in the film where it felt particularly dated, mostly the things to do with the computer system (which was never accurate to begin with, ah well). The dinosaurs themselves still looked and felt real. They had presence and somehow they had emotion, even if that emotion was just "raging killing machine wants to eat you." The entire movie hinges on believing that these extinct animals are real and it manages, largely because Spielberg had the presence of mind to mix CGI and practical effects. I wish more filmmakers would do that today, because watching Jurassic Park again really made me feel like we've slid backwards.

There are things that don't hold up as an adult watching the movie. Lex is obnoxious and the entire movie could have been done without her, but Tim is somehow even more interesting. When Ray goes to the shed to reboot the system, it's obvious that it's just a plot point to get him killed, it's not set up well enough, and there's no reason for him to have gone alone. Everyone being gone for the weekend doesn't really make a ton of sense either, when you think about it.

And there's the fact that large chunks of the science in the movie are now completely wrong.

But it's not worth thinking about because the point of the movie is simple: are there dinosaurs? Yes. Do they want to eat people? Yes. Do you care if the people do or don't get eaten? Absolutely. Do you still care almost twenty years later? A resounding yes.

Jurassic Park is, quite frankly, one of the best movies of it's kind. A sci-fi action thriller that will remain a classic until we stop being fascinated with dinosaurs, which is probably never.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Supernatural Rewatch: Halfway through season 1!

Don't forget to check the "supernatural rewatch" tag to see all the posts in this series!

Finally, we're getting some better stories that tie into the overall plot rather than being standard stand alone stories where nothing really happens to change anything.

Home:I was extremely happy that right around the time I was getting really bored with the lack of development the overall story was getting that we got this episode, perfectly timed on the part of the showrunners. It manages to delve into the real meat of the story, and gives Sam something new to talk about (his prophetic dreams) and Dean something new to have to process. Though I find it odd that he has a hard time believing in the dreams, I mean really Dean, look at your life.

The actual poltergeist in the story is a little lame, since that isn't particularly the point of the episode. I enjoyed the psychic and really wished she would come back in a later episode, I thought her character was at least giving the brothers some snappy comebacks that they deserved.

The episode also finally starts really working on the angle with their dad, and the fact that he isn't missing so much as he's avoiding them. This is absolutely vital at this point in the series, because that story line was starting to lose it's power, so it punched it up enough to keep it relevant.

I'm saying that I can't count this as a beautiful girl needing the brother's help never to be seen again, even though the guest star was very pretty, just because they played her up quite a bit as a stand-in for their mom. Thank goodness. Maybe I'll get lucky and they'll get out of this pattern.

Asylum: Creepy abandoned mental hospitals are pretty much required for any show like this, at least once. But I did think they did a really good job with this one. The opening teaser was really intriguing and the art direction was really well done. I think the story was more than a little obvious (of COURSE the doctor was part of the problem from the beginning and the ghosts themselves were not trying to hurt people but warn them) but they did it well.

The episode also had the fun teenage couple, where the boyfriend was a completely useless blob (played by the actor who played the useless blob of a boyfriend in season two of Heroes, typecasting?) but the girl was actually efficient and useful. I read on a website that there's speculation that she later became a hunter. Good for her, I'd like to see her come back. I'm not putting her on the list of women who have to be saved since she gets a shotgun, but she came close!

Anyway, the episode actually shows a little bit of what I was talking about when I reviewed Bugs, it took the dynamic between Dean and Sam and took it to a new level. Bugs was just a rehash of the same fight, over and over again. But Asylum took a part of the main storyline and used it to actually enhance that argument and bring it something new, and help start to bring some closure to it (I hope anyway).

Overall, I really liked these two episodes a lot, which was good, because they needed some really good eps to keep me interested at that point.

Supernatural Rewatch Continues!

Don't forget to check the "supernatural rewatch" tag to see all the posts in this series!

Hook Man: We're now 6 out of 7 on "pretty girls in danger that must be saved by the brothers and never will show up again." I found this episode generally boring, and pretty much "done." When it primed the exact same urban legends as the movie Urban Legend, it was just not that much fun anymore. Not to mention that it took them WAY too long to figure out what the actual item was that was causing the Hook Man to appear. "Oh, let's burn everything silver! Except this one silver thing that is practically glowing and jumping in our faces!" Oh well. Anyway, a mostly boring and dull episode, the less said about it the better I think.

Bug: YAY! The random person that has to be saved and is never seen again is a teenage boy! Combo breaker!

Plus this episode manages to bring us a couple different things, even if it was freaking me out the entire time because I hate bugs (there's always a bug episode, isn't there? This show is just reminding me more and more of X-Files every week). I did get a little tired of the brothers having the same fight about their dad all over again, I want them to find new material on this one. Yes, it's important but instead of rehashing the same fight they should be moving on to other things, maybe different ways of looking at it, or something, I don't know. But not just lather, rinse, repeat.

But in general it was an interesting, if gross, episode. The climax was more than a little dumb (like any of that ever would have actually worked to keep those bugs away for an entire night) but I played along and at least kind of enjoyed it. The whole plot felt a little stereotypical on the Native American portrayal, but not so much that I had a major problem with it. But I'm really anxiously awaiting the point where the show gets to overall mythology a little more, these stand-alones are getting old already.