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Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Month: April 2019

Pulp Pulp Culture Culture

I should know better than to tag songs on “best-of” albums.

It’s an okay song, I just didn’t necessarily want to hear it twice within half an hour.

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate the result of my ratings-tagging both the Thomas Dolby record Aliens Ate My Buick and the Thomas Dolby best-of compilation record Retrospectacle. I use MediaMonkey to build random playlists. Some are for specific bands or genres, others boil down to “give me X minutes of songs with a Y star rating or higher.”

The above screenshot is from my “MEHs Haul” playlist: 90 minutes of three-star tracks that haven’t been played in the last few weeks. I’m used to getting studio and live versions of the same song, especially in my workday-length random playlist. The same studio recording twice in relatively rapid succession, though? That’s my own danged fault.

Maintaining a digital music library is an ever-ongoing task, apparently.

The Carol Corps

We are, one is forced to admit, a Funko Pops household. Like, we’re not addicted to buying all of them, nothing like that. But the “I can quit any time” line is just that, a line. Case in point:

Some time ago, before the movie was anything more than wishful thinking, I picked up a Captain Marvel. Cool! Onto the shelf she went.

Then the movie happened, and I picked up a Vers. Okay! I had two different Captain-Marvel-ish Funko Pops on display. Fine, fine, no problems.

Then my birthday arrived and I found myself with another variant. Boy howdy did Funko go nuts on these or what?

Then came the Captain Marvel “blind box” (Vyx ordered it, not me!) with two more. And a sixth arrived from… look, I don’t even remember, okay? But that one glows in the dark. Bonus!

End result?

All the Captain Marvel Funko Pops (with bonus Voltron crew)

Look! I have my very own Carol Corps!

(For fun, and at Vyx’s suggestion, I took another quick pic:)

(It may or may not be good to be the king…)

Edit: I was putting away dishes, which included a Captain Marvel glass (part of the aforementioned blind box) and, well:

We’ve had a set of “naughty words” glasses for years and years. In a way, this was inevitable.

Guy Not To Be: Geek Cred Establisher

Because we are geeks, Vyx and I wore geeky t-shirts while out shopping today. At the bus stop as we were heading home for the day, some random guy complimented one of our shirt choices. Okay, cool, that’s fine.

He then had to tell us about how he started reading comics in the 80s. (Okay, the 90s, he amended.) And how he had #1 issues of X-Men and what-have-you. And how he loved stories about this, that, and the other thing. And. And.

And then, miracle of miracles, the bus arrived.

Dudes: You can just say you appreciate a thing and let it go at that. If you feel the need to make a big deal about your geek cred past that? You’re not impressing me, you’re certainly not impressing Vyx, you’re just causing us both to count the minutes until we can be far, far away from you.

Oy.

Love, Death & Robots

Right off the bat, a nitpick: Why no Oxford comma, Netflix?

Anyway.

During my young-adult years I frequented Cinema 21, the best-known at the time of the arthouse theaters in Portland Oregon. Among their regular attractions were the various animation festivals, such as Spike & Mike’s (who are apparently still at it, go figure). You’d get all sorts of weird, wonderful, and occasionally dark fare. Not all of it worked for everybody but there was usually something for everybody.

I also discovered the Japanese animated anthology film (technically an OVA but I didn’t know that at the time), Robot Carnival, during this period. It had robots, it had weird artsy ideas, it had funny bits, what more could I want?

Time passed.

Netflix recently announced their anthology series, Love, Death & Robots. The advertisement was intense. The buzz was… loud, I guess. Sci-Fi! Action! Humor! Wacky hijinx! Naked (albeit CGI) boobies! It seemed like something the arthouse animation-festival-going side of me would enjoy immensely, not to mention the appeal to the guy who nearly wore out a VHS copy of Robot Carnival.

So, why didn’t I enjoy it immensely?

Maybe I just got too old for this stuff. For all the high-end cutting-edge technology on display, several of the creators involved got too carried away with the fact that they were going to get to show grotesque horrors, naked women, or both in the same short film. Sometimes simultaneously. Which could have been fine in and of itself, but out of 18 short films fully one third were off-puttingly violent and gory (not to mention, in several cases, spectacularly brutal to the female characters).

And then there’s “The Dump” where we see a gangly old man with his pants down around his ankles, among other things. Deep sigh.

We’re also living in an age where everything’s 3D-animated already. It’s not like in my arthouse movie days when computer-generated animation was super primitive. (Go watch The Mind’s Eye videos if you don’t believe me.) Among other things, this means that you can’t really get a “wow” out of the audience with technology alone. It’s all in how you use it. Apparently, “how you use it” boils down for some folks to “super maximum-resolution gore, plus high-polygon boobies.” Hmm.

On the upside, one sixth of the anthology’s film count is made up of adaptations of John Scalzi short stories. No bonus points for guessing that these (“Three Robots,” “When the Yogurt Took Over,” and “Alternate Histories”) provide a sizeable percentage of the fun to be had in the entire run time of the series.

I got a kick out of “Suits” as well, featuring farmers with home-built mechs defending their homes against alien invasion.

Of the military sci-fi available, my favorite was definitely “Lucky 13.” My least favorite was “Shape-shifters,” which… was adapted from work by the same author as “Lucky 13.” Huh. Well, one of the two short films told a story, the other just kind of… showed us things happening. Maybe it just wasn’t for me.

The arty-est of the art films on offer here are the vivid and poignant “Zima Blue,” and the weird, beautiful, and disturbing “Fish Night.” And on the improbably weird but still rather adorable side, there’s “Ice Age,” about a tiny civilization living in an ancient icebox. I’ll also give points to “Good Hunting,” which I would kind of like to see expanded into a feature or short series or something. Vigilante shape-shifting robot-bodied mythological creature in a steampunk China? Yes, more of that.

Right near the end, a quibble: Shouldn’t there have been more robots in an anthology with the word “robots” right there in the name? Mind you, should’ve been more love, too. “Death, Robots & Love” might not have sold as well, I suppose.

Should you watch this anthology series? Eh. If you don’t find the gore and violence of a lot of the entries off-putting, then yes. There’s some good fun to be had here and some clever spectacle along the way. There’s some serious nightmare fuel as well (“Beyond the Aquila Rift,” especially) so… be warned.

As for me, I’m going to go spin up my DVD copy of Robot Carnival

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