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Signs of the Times

Here are a couple of photos of signs I’ve seen lately. They kind of say something about our current culture and level of common sense.

For those who can’t count.

Six year old children shouldn’t be allowed in any R-rated films any time. Right?

I just have to shake my head at how our culture has dumbed down to the point that these signs are necessary.


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Driving the Walking Dead

I saw a few episodes of The Walking Dead back in the first season. What I caught was just random, when I just happened to turn on the TV during its time slot. The show looked interesting, but I just couldn’t reliably tune in at the right time. Then last year when we got Netflix, I managed to watch eight or ten episodes in a row.

I really like the Zombie Apocalypse genre, and this show had some really interesting episodes, but taken as a whole, I just couldn’t love it. The main characters made too many stupid mistakes. Among many problems, the zombies seemed to appear out of nowhere like freakin’ ninjas. Living bad guys could track and seemingly teleport like wizards. Every time it happened, it just took me out of the story. So I gave up watching it.

Then on our Walt Disney World vacation last month, I saw this in the resort parking lot:

The Walking Dead Car

The Walking Dead Car


This prompted me to try watching the show again. I cherry picked a few episodes, (the attack on the prison, and a few following). There were a few instances of stupid by the characters, but nothing terribly bad to me. But the story is just so damn depressing. So much bad happening to everyone. I can’t stand it. I don’t want to watch a show that makes me depressed. So, again, I’m giving up on The Walking Dead.


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Sci-Fi Tech, Then and Now

Calfgrit13 has an Xbox. His favorite game, (the game he plays most often), is Halo — he has three games of that series. I tried playing Halo with him once just after he got it for Christmas last year, and I just couldn’t get the hang of the controls. Friday night I tried again, and still, using a console controller for a first-person shooter game leaves me flopping around dead, quickly and repeatedly. I’m hopeless trying to aim with a controller. (I’m great with a mouse and keyboard on a computer game. Game designers: make games that can be played multiplayer across platforms!)

But while playing with him, and listening to him regale me with his knowledge of the Halo universe history, technology, and aliens, I remembered that I have the movie Aliens in my DVD collection stored in the cabinet under the TV. He’s 13 years old now, so I wanted to show him this classic sci-fi movie of my generation. I explained that not only is it a classic flick to watch, it has some great one-liners he can quote while playing Halo.

Such as:

“They mostly come at night. Mostly.”

“Game over, man! Game over!”

“I like to keep this handy, for close encounters.”

“We got nukes, we got knives and sharp sticks.”

Saturday midday would be our best opportunity to watch the movie, as Calfgrit9 would be at a friend’s house for a birthday party. We dropped CG9 off at the party, and on the drive back home, I told CG13 the story of Alien, the predecessor of Aliens. I explained, in detail, how Alien is a horror movie based in space, in which one alien wipes out a whole crew of a space cargo ship. CG13 doesn’t like jump scares, and so I know he wouldn’t like watching Alien at all. But one needs to understand the story of the movie to really get the most enjoyment out of the sequel.

“And then Aliens starts out with Ripley’s escape pod being discovered 57 years later,” I finished. He saw similarities between the Alien story and the Halo story, and he told me more about it.

At home, we settled into the den to watch the DVD. Throughout the run, he wanted me to give him a heads-up about upcoming scares, and I gave him several seconds warning for each one I could remember, (which was probably 90% of them). I’ve watched this movie at least four or five times in my life, and I seem to pretty much have it memorized — I surprised myself with how well I remember every detail.

This movie really is very good. It well stands the test of time with regards to its story telling. The way it builds from the anti-climatic tension during the initial “assault” by the colonial space marines, to the action-satisfying battles later and the climatic end fight with the alien queen. Great stuff. Great writing, great directing, great setting. But two things stand out — one was noticeable as an error, or fault, from the first time I saw it, and the other is only noticeable now, after 30 years of technological advancement in the real world.

The error/fault that I noted way back as a teen in the mid-80s is: why is there no crew on the orbiting spacecraft? CG13 noted this problem when the plot cameĀ  to the point where the characters had to get the second drop-ship to come pick them up. It’s one of those plot errors that I often complain about in movies I find bad. Fortunately for Aliens, though, I can get over one plot problem hump and still enjoy the movie. It’s when there are numerous plot problems, throughout the film, that ends up making the whole thing really, really stupid and bad.

The other thing we both noted during the movie, and then discussed after the movie, was how sci-fi/futuristic equipment ideas have advanced so much over the years. In Aliens, the colonial space marines are wearing and using gear and weapons less “futuristic” than what our modern-day marines and soldiers are wearing on real world battlefields. A (non-Kevlar) helmet, a rigid and thin chest plate, and a 10-millimeter “pulse rifle” — the only thing even a little futuristic of these things is the digital ammo counter on the rifle.

Modern movies and games take a longer technological leap with imagining future military equipment. The armor in the Halo games not only covers the entire human body, but essentially gives the man inside super powers. This difference in how creative people thirty years ago and now think about and anticipate what the future will look like is so vast that it makes me wonder just how wildly short of reality our current sci-fi predictions will be.

Fortunately, regardless of how pathetically under-teched the future seems to be in the Aliens universe, Calfgrit13 still liked the movie. And he says he’s looking forward to using the cool quotes while gaming in Halo with his friends. I’m going to get such a buzz the first time I hear him say, “Let’s nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”


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Guardians of the Galaxy

Viewed: Theater

I’ve been excited and anxious to see this movie since I first saw the trailer. Marvel Studios has been making some fantastic superhero movies — many of these Marvel movies are in my top ten favorites of all time. But, unlike the other Marvel movies, I wasn’t familiar with this title as presented in the trailer.

I remember the Guardians of the Galaxy from the 1990s, but this movie team is completely different. The GotG I know were from the 31st century, and the team roster was completely different.

This is issue #1, (which I own), and the team shows no similarity to the movie characters. But, a couple of the individual movie characters, themselves, I do recognize. Although, again, they seem a bit different. For instance, the Drax the Destroyer I know of is super strong and flies and shoots energy blasts from his hands. Gamora, I know of also, but not so well. The others, Peter Quill, Rocket, and Groot, I’ve never seen in a comic. From what I’ve read recently, *this* GotG team is based on the newer, 2000s, version of the comic group.

But, hey, I didn’t follow the original comics version of GotG much beyond several issues, and I know the Marvel movies are based on their newer stories and reboots of all their characters. So I wasn’t looking for a movie to show the older GotG. In fact, from what I remember of the older GotG, those characters probably wouldn’t make a good movie anyway.

I’ve come to trust Marvel’s ability to produce a good comic book/superhero movie. And with this movie, they have confirmed my trust is well placed. Guardians of the Galaxy is a great movie!

I took both Calfgrit13 and Calfgrit9, and two of their neighborhood friends to see the movie this past weekend, and we all liked it. (I loved it!) It’s well written, well acted, well directed — just a total good flick, all around.

And although I don’t know this particular team from the comics, I did recognize many of the other characters — Thanos, Ronan, The Collector, Nebula, the Nova Corps, and more. I also recognized the overall Marvel Universe — Marvel has done excellently well with staying true to their comic universe as well as keeping it consistent through the various movies they’ve produced.

This movie has great characters, great action, great comedy, and brings them all together very well. I want to see it again, so Wifegrit has already agreed to a date night for us to see it together. (Usually we wouldn’t waste a date night sitting in a theater, both of us looking away at a screen, but I do really like this movie enough to trade in a romantic dinner one time for it.)


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