Mad Max: Fury Road – remember movies?

So the debate is whether movie theaters are bound for the crypt because covid walked in and spoiled the popcorn machine. To me, whether theaters are doomed has been in my brain for years and had nothing to do with the virus messing with the screen focus.

The problem with theaters is the ability to put out quality movies that people actually want to see. Box office receipts have been decent for years, but not at the level you’d expect for an industry that should be growing in proportion to the population.

I attribute this to a movie studio model that chases big blockbusters with about 95% of their energy, and maybe leaves a little 5% left over to take some chances. For the most part, there’s not room for the spark hit or decent medium budget flick anymore.

Plus, all the big blockbusters for about a decade have been superhero slop. Hey if this is your thing? Okay, I get it, sort of. But it’s not mine. I haven’t seen a superhero movie in, since, uh, um?

I think they have an eighth actor to play Batman now. It’s John Wayne’s ghost! They dug up his mortal remains, cloned him, trained him to talk in an even more guttural voice, and he’ll endlessly punch faceless bad guys to no purpose for a run time of 2 hours and 43 minutes. This movie will make $1.3B.

Then there’s the darker side of the Hollywood equation, the dominance of China. China is now the world’s largest box office and it won’t be close. They don’t even have Netflix to compete with theaters. Mulan is out this week on China’s screens and America’s small squares. It will make $1.3B.

Never mind the script was run past the Chinese Communist Party censors or that that lead actress thinks pro democracy protestors are losers. These are minor considerations when you’re trying to make money in China. Just ask the NBA.

But if you’re like me and you want quality, open thought, risk taking, and generally not seeing movies that feel like they emerged from a vending machine? Well, you need to get rid of superheros, and China’s deep Hollywood influence.

Well kids, that ain’t happening. And so to me, covid aside, this a business model set up for failure. They’re just begging Netflix or Amazon to eat them up. Movie theaters will be where you go see classic movies back when they made movies that were actually good. Or theme park rides like in Universal Studios, or 4D experiences, or Big Brother mind control centers, or whatever.

Meanwhile, if you want to watch real movies, you’ll have to stream or buy blu ray versions of old films from back when they made actual movies. And there’s no better example of that in Mad Max: Fury Road. Which is all of five years old at this point, but feels like it was made a century ago.

a perfectly normal way for your protagonist to start the movie’s action

This will be a short review because I consider it boring to write a seventeen page piece on just how awesome every part of this movie is. The problem is that it lost money, and so Hollywood’s never going to take such a risk again.

Let’s face it, Max is in the promos with this weird face mask on, Charlize is bald and looks angry, there’s a dude with a guitar that shoots fire. I think mainstream audiences saw the trailer for this movie and immediately checked out.

It’s their loss because they missed one of the best action movies in history. A movie that also had heart, characters you cared about, and didn’t beat you over the head with some kind of overtly cultural/political message.

This all comes from the mind of George Miller who’s an elderly crazy man only famous for Max movies, and other massive cult hits like Babe and Happy Feet. This movie is worthy of an insane asylum, but to me that’s a positive when ever superhero movie is written by twelve suits in a boardroom.

this is not a computer generated scene

1) Hardy is awesome as Max, says about twelve words in the whole movie, but is such a talented actor that he does the rest through facial expressions alone

2) Theron is the real star / hero of the movie and that’s the point, I don’t usually like her as an actor but in this role she’s perfect and it’s her performance that grounds / drives this movie

3) Miller gives you a story you instantly care about (unless you’re psychotic), a brave woman is attempting to rescue of a gaggle of pregnant women from an extremely evil dude = sold

4) The plot starts five minutes in, the film doesn’t mess around with your mind or time, it gets right into it, and you’re hooked

5) The film has some of the most mind bending, realistic, and baffling action ever put on screen, even when I rewatch this movie I still find myself gripping the couch arm

6) Sure they used some visual effects, but much of this movie was shot on site using practical effects, which is why it looks so awesome and probably also why it was so expensive to make and thus part of the reason it lost money

7) All the craziness in play is such a positive to me, Max is strapped to a car for the first action scene as a literal blood bank, the second action scene he’s still chained to a lunatic, all the different looks for the weapons and vehicles, the guitar that shoots fire, a religion that worships an altar of steering wheels, all positives for me

8) Max and Furiosa each undergo their own stories of redemption, pain, and ultimately end the movie once again giving a shit about people and things, all accomplished without overly dwelling on it or portraying either of them as enraged, miserable lunatics

9) The action, I mean, damn, some call it the best action movie of all time and they might damn well be right

this movie is actually hers and not Max’s and it works perfectly

I could go on and on. This movie’s not for everybody, but it sure works for me. And I wish it worked for a lot more people too. I hope it’s done a lot more on budget with streaming and blu ray so the studios will take more risks like this.

But I doubt it. Remember movies? Here’s one of them. Enjoy it. There won’t be too many new ones coming out like it ever again.

Vlad the Untouchable

Alexei Navalny will hopefully live.  And even more hopefully not have permanent damage to his body.  But who know what rabid poison they flushed into him.

I may not have always seen eye-to-eye with some of Navalny’s ideas, but you can’t argue the courage of a guy who’s gone face-to-face with one of the world’s most dangerous men for years.

Let’s face it, Putin is untouchable.  Vlad could stroll into a senior citizen’s bingo hall wearing a $10K custom made three piece suit, dual-wielding a pair of Yugoslavian machine pistols, shoot everybody in the room, and still get away with it.

So if you’re the doctors in Omsk, how awkward is this for you?  Do you save the guy’s life?  Of course.  Do you now have to look over your shoulder for as long as you or Vlad lives?  You bet.

On a separate note, execution methodology says a lot about how cultures work in today’s modern society.  For example:

Russia – poison in public without trial

North Korea – antiaircraft gun in public with show trial

China – needle or gunshot in secret with or without trial

Saudi Arabia – beheading in public with trial

USA – needle with trial, seconds after Supreme Court refuses to intervene

Iran – hanging in secret, with or without trail

Russian President Putin listens to his Kyrgyz counterpart Atambayev during their meeting  in St. Petersburg

“Welcome my friend, welcome, please sit.  Some tea?”

“Uh no, no Vlad, I’m good.  Ah, thanks though, bro.  Appreciate the offer.”

[Vlad smirks, knows you’re drinking the tea one way or another]

retire “hump day”, or else

We’re back!  After an unexplained 477 week absence.  Did you miss us?  No?  Oh, ah, uh, hmm, we thought folks missed us.  [cricket, cricket, cricket]

So we’re back to talk about what massive important topic to the human race?  Global pandemic?  Locust swarms?  The shortage of effective keys and locks?  No!  But rather, the continual use of the term “hump day” at work.  Oh my!  The horror.

1) This joke was mildly amusing when the Geico goons put this out nine years ago.  I say mildly, as in something you’d chuckle about once and then wish to forget forever.  But folks kept saying it again and again in the camel voice.  It won’t die.  Why?  Why won’t this die?

2) Why do folks carry on and spout jokes written by a boardroom of faceless suits?  Geico is famous for this.  They’re not jokes folks.  They’re made to separate money from people.  If you want to inject humor into the workplace, please use something not written by the Giant Octopus.

3) The term Hump Day has Jumped the Shark.

4) Saying even anything remotely sexual in the workplace now gets you drawn and quartered by the Stazi.  The word “hump” is associated with sexual behavior.  We must retire its use in the workplace otherwise the office will be burned to the grown by Antifa.

5) The camel actor in the original Geico commercial was euthanized over five years ago.  His Kuwaiti owners didn’t want to pay for his anti-biotics.  I’m sorry.  I’m so very, very sorry.

6) The concept of Hump Day is that the week is half over and it can only go happily calmer or get better from there until the joy of the weekend arrives.  This theory is shit.  Everyone knows at 1pm on Friday you’ll get that fucking phone call that makes you want to quit your job that very instant.

7) Elves are responsible for your decreased workplace satisfaction.  I know this to be fact.  The sources My Guests possess are unimaginable and infallible.

8) Enjoy your day!

Dromedary skeleton

everybody’s wood shed day comes eventually

Hong Kong’s fragile democracy was daggered today

If you want to get a good idea of just how viciously evil Chairman Xi is (and with what callousness he views hundreds-of-thousands of virus deaths) you need look no further than what’s been done to Hong Kong these last few months.

To Xi and the Communist Party a global catastrophe they caused is the chance to crush any remaining freedoms in Hong Kong for good.  Effective today Beijing basically just said they can rule by decree and override Hong Kong’s neutered legislature.

That’s it folks, there’s nothing left.  The executive, the business community, and certainly the police are already apparatchiks, without elected legislators who matter it’s over.  There’s nothing stopping Beijing from criminalizing anything that displeases them.

Kindly observe how the planet does not care.  America is lead by a guy who clearly doesn’t believe in universal human rights.  Britain only wants a trade deal from China.  The EU is so dysfunctional it couldn’t change the battery on a wall clock.

A lot of folks have made the case since 1989 that China was somehow a safer global power than the Soviet Union ever was because China wasn’t actively trying to export their system of governance to the world.  I disagreed then, I disagree now.

Xi and the Communist Party have a very clear idea of how they believe the entire human race should live.  Anybody who thinks they’re going to stop at Hong Kong is a fool.  If I was Taiwanese, I’d be terrified.

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Circa 2022, they’ll do the same thing to this guy, only at 1am and inside his home

CDC turns, now Tory reactionaries

Hey I get it, fighting covid must be really hard and stressful, but how does that equate to the CDC trying to turn back the clock to 1775?  This poster was on the subway this morning, it’s asinine.  This is probably the first time since the Stamp Act that a British royal crown has existed on an official US government document.

Better watch out fellow patriots, the CDC is out to slit your throats at night in order to restore QE2 to her rightful throne.  A new castle shall be built for her, on the grounds of the Washington Monument after it’s brutally razed by CDC funded bulldozers crewed by drunken EPL hooligans.

I won’t stand for it.  I shall fight!  To start my struggle, I shall ignore the poster’s instructions that I wash my hands.  Only Tory scum wash their hands.  How could this possibility go wrong for me?!

keep-calm-wash-hands-400x400

go get some tar and feathers

competence is the only power over the virus

It would seem virus battle tactics are the new arena of politics.  In an era where everything must be political, soon your tooth brushing method will determine how you vote.

In the meantime, the debate has centered on whether to reopen the economy and risk increased death.  Or to keep the economy closed and risk financial death.  Both these options suck.

But there’s a third way that folks seem to mostly ignore which is what I find baffling.  China’s Communist Party’s talking point is only their all powerful neck stopping model can defeat the virus.  They’re lying, started this to begin with, and are downplaying their own virus infection/death statistics.

The answer lies in South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, and to a lesser extent Germany.  This is the competent category.

Into the incompetent category you can shove the US, Italy, France, Spain, Britain, and of course Communist China.  The answer to this virus is simply that government should do its job.  Instead of sucking.

Sure, there are significant privacy, social, cultural, and obedience factors that likely make introducing a South Korean virus battle methodology into the US problematic, but does that mean it shouldn’t be seriously discussed?  Instead of, you know, just keeping to the same failed talking points both sides have adopted?  The virus doesn’t care who folks voted for.  South Korea never even executed a full lockdown.

I think in the coming decades this will become a more glaring aspect of our planet.  Sure, the differences between democracy and oligarchy are stark.  But what will really set apart nations is simply those that are governed competently, and those that are not.  It will be readily apparent say by 2035, and the split begins now.

Solo trashes Falcon (again)

In the third incident this year alone, dashing war hero General Han Solo crashed landed the Millennium Falcon into a bantha manure pile barn.  Witnesses say they observed a drunken Solo depart The Cantina only minutes before the increasing common aviation incident.

The episode mirrors other recent occurrences such as where Solo taxied his borrowed T-16 across an active landing pad.  Or when several years ago Solo flew the Falcon low over a transport carrying 110 civilian passengers.

In the latest event Solo was said to have been upset after he and General Leia ended their tumultuous but galaxy wide famed relationship for the fourth time in five years.  “I really don’t know why he tied one on like that,” said ace pilot and obsessive skirt chaser Wedge, “They’re just gonna get back together again in a few months.”

The Falcon is said to be down for several weeks of repairs.  But perhaps the more significant concern were the injuries sustained by famed Rebel warrior Chewbacca whose ultra long right leg suffered fractures in five places.  As a warlike race, when told he would require several surgeries and months of hoverchair time the wookie was said to have moaned, “Kill me.  Please, kill me,” repeatedly to a largely disinterested medical droid.

Critics, likely Imperial sympathizers, have suggested that were Solo anybody but General Solo he would have lost his pilot’s license years ago.  “Are you kidding me,” said Constable Red Shirt, “If I took his license the Rebel underground would have my throat slashed that very night.”

Others have wondered if a breathing device could be affixed to the Falcon’s cockpit to verify Solo was sober before powering up the engines but others are skeptical of the plan.  Said Wedge, “He’d just shoot it first.”

Harrison-Ford-696x442

Civil War – 22 April 1862 – a visit from Uncle

The Battle of Shiloh was fought 06-07 April 1862 and was the first truly massive battle in the Western Theater and up to that point the largest of the war.  Its ferocity must have shocked the civilian population on both sides who even though the war was almost a year old probably still assumed somehow that massive bloodshed could have been avoided.

Instead, the stakes of the war and how strongly the individual soldier believed in their view of it shone through.  Entire units would fight nearly to the last man rather than retreat.  Men who were exhausted from the worst day of their lives yesterday, would show up today and do it all over again.  It wouldn’t be for the last time.

Two weeks later the Union Army remained encamped on their victorious battlefield at Shiloh.  Private Lucius Barber, then 22, was in Company D of the 15th Illinois Volunteer Infantry:

I was agreeably surprised one morning when I awoke to find Uncle Washington in my tent.  My friends had sent him down to see if anything was needed.  Although his services were not required, his company was very acceptable.  He stayed a couple of weeks with us and then returned home.  The roads were in an awful condition at the time and it was impossible for the army to move…

You’re in the bloodiest war in American history (though nobody knew that yet) and your Uncle shows up just to check on you.  Note a few things from this short passage:

– A walk (or he could have rode) from Illinois to Shiloh and a multi-week stay is not a minor amount of time, one wonders what, if any, employment Uncle Washington had

– Note that his friends, undoubtedly shocked by what they had read of the battle, sent Barber’s Uncle to check on him

– His friends were still at home, not yet enlisted in the Army, over the years this would have changed as the war turned into mass mobilization for both sides

– The roads were impossible for movement by armies, but apparently not by one Uncle checking in on his family

In wouldn’t be the last the war would hear from Private Barber.