Monthly Archives: July 2013

Movie Review: The Wolverine

After watching The Wolverine, I’m starting to doubt my power to give any superhero movie a fair review. Am I that biased? Have decades of reading comic books left me unable to separate the good from the garbage? I mean, yes, I loved Dark Knight Rises. Like, I really, really, really loved Dark Knight Rises. But I thought Daredevil was pretty cool. And Thor. And Iron Man 3. And Spider-Man 3. And X-Men 3.

the wolverine

And The Wolverine. I was watching that movie in the theater, sitting there, thinking to myself, man, this is a pretty cool movie. Pretty badass. Even when Wolverine got escorted through security, and the guards are waving the metal detectors all over his body, and all of the readings are off, you know, he’s got that metal skeleton and everything, and he says, “hip replacement,” I was like, well, OK, yeah, that’s kind of cheesy, but it’s still OK. I mean, yeah, he does have a metal skeleton and I’m sure that’s got to be annoying after a while, constantly trying to explain himself.

And then much later in the movie when he’s trying to get through airport security and the machine’s going nuts, and he’s just like, “I want the pat-down,” it’s like, really? Two metal detector jokes? But maybe it’s not a joke, maybe they’re just really driving home the point that, if you had a metal skeleton, this is what you’d have to deal with on a regular basis, deal with it. And that’s kind of like a really hard directorial trick, right? Like getting us really inside the character’s head?

But I’m jumping ahead. It starts in the woods somewhere. The Wolverine is sleeping outside, not like in a tent or anything, but just right outside. And he’s got a severe case of PTSD. But that’s OK too, because he’s sworn off killing, a solemn vow as he calls it. Except, there’s this guy in the woods who shoots this bear that the Wolverine has befriended, and that kind of sets him off, like it’s just the right offense to make him forget his solemn vow.

But that’s kind of believable, I mean, if I were living in the woods by myself, with a big beard and long hair, and a stupid little radio that runs on size D batteries, batteries that kept dying way too fast, so fast that I’d have to walk all the way into town and buy just one two-pack of batteries and then walk all the way back to the woods, and my only friend was a bear, and somebody shot my friend, I guess I’d be pissed. Yeah, that makes sense.

We’re out of the woods soon enough. The Wolverine’s got some business to attend to in Japan. Some guy that the Wolverine saved from the atom bomb in Nagasaki wants to say thank you, and goodbye, and also, sit still for a second so I can steal your healing powers, please. The whole rest of the movie takes place in Japan, showing off everything as Japanese as you might imagine: ninjas, samurais, secret orders of the black clan, marrying the Minister of Justice to help out with your family’s honor, getting scolded for leaving your chopsticks sticking out of your bowl of rice. It’s all very authentic. And very picturesque too.

In the comics, Wolverine does spend some time in Japan, and he winds up getting involved with a woman named Mariko. I only mention this because, when you see Mariko and Wolverine suddenly fall in love, the only reason that makes sense as to where the out-of-nowhere mutual attraction arose from is, well, it happened in the comics, so there you go, it’s happening in this movie also. But whatever, it’s love at first sight. That’s no reason to criticize a movie. In fact, it’s just another added dimension to the film. Look at me, I’m practically a romantic over here, gushing about true love.

There’s some blond villain named Viper. It’s one of those names that she kind of gives herself while she does this speech explaining her powers, more or less, “I possess the ability to manufacture any type of poison. Also, I’m immune to every class of venom. I guess you could say I’m a … Viper.” And it just takes off, because soon random Japanese people are referring to her as capital V Viper in their English subtitles.

But I can’t knock it. That’s her name, it’s Viper. That’s who she is. Who am I to judge her name, how she dresses? Hell, if I were a blond super villain named Viper, I’d probably only wear green also. Like green leather pants, and green tank tops. And then green dresses later on, and green eye shadow. That’s her thing, she wears green, like a snake, like a green viper. And she has that viper tongue, it’s always like slithering out of her mouth. She’s like a snake lady.

And then, I don’t know, there’s fighting and stuff. And there’s some sort of a plan to kidnap a granddaughter to trick the son, who in turn is using the fiancé, all in an effort to get back at the grandfather, I think. And the Wolverine is there. And he does this crazy fight scene on top of a three hundred mile per hour train.

It’s awesome! That’s probably all that it is, it’s just a truly great movie. I’m here doubting my reviewing skills, but it’s not me, it’s not me just blindly slapping a seal of approval on all projects Marvel. No, The Wolverine must have been a truly amazing movie. Some things don’t need to make sense. Or some things probably do make sense, it’s just my fault for not really getting them. Like when the Viper lady gets stabbed in the heart and dies, why is she able to peel off her skin and restart her pulse? I don’t know, it’s probably some really technical snake ability that I don’t get.

Whatever, superhero movies are the best. I could watch The Wolverine like three more times, today, and I’d still be entertained. Just keep them coming. Like man, I hope they make a Daredevil 2. Or even better, a Spider-Man 3 2. Maybe they could do a crossover, Spider-Man 3 Vs. Daredevil. That would be pretty sick. Even though Michael Clark Duncan probably won’t get to be Kingpin again, because he died.

You can’t find me

You’ll have to find me first. I’m the best at hiding, at picking out choice hiding spots. You might walk into a sparsely furnished room, you’d think, OK, well, if he’s not behind the couch, then he’s not here, because there’s nowhere else to hide. Wrong. I could be hiding in that space in between the ceiling and the lights. What do you call that space? There’s a name for it. Do you know what I’m talking about? Like in an office. Like there are those tiles that you push up and there’s a little space before the real ceiling. OK, yeah, it’s a sparsely furnished office room, I wasn’t very specific. But that’s OK, that doesn’t change anything, because that’s where I’d be hiding, and you’d pop your head inside, you’d think, nope, no way he’s hiding out here, on to the next room.

office room

You might be saying to yourself, why would I tell? Why would I give away such a good hiding spot? Because while it might be a good hiding spot to you, the average hider, to a professional such a myself, that’s actually a pretty poor hiding spot. And by me giving you a supposed hint as to where you might want to start looking, I’m only further guaranteeing that you’ll definitely never find me. I’m already in your head, before I’ve even given you a chance to count to twenty, I’m making it even more difficult that you’ll ever figure out where I am.

Because, OK, picture yourself back in that office. You open the door, this time you think to yourself, well, normally I’d pass right by, but now I’m definitely at least going to poke up around in that ceiling space. Go ahead, be my guest. Now you’re only giving me even more time to quietly sneak out of my real hiding spot, in that giant file cabinet on the other side of the room. See, it was a hasty decision, yeah, but it’s still a great hiding spot. And now that I’ve got you wasting time pushing up ceiling tiles, it’s as easy as slipping out quietly and further eluding my chances of ever getting caught.

I know what you’re thinking: stupid, stupid Rob. Why are you being so dumb, offering up the entire plan? Now all I have to do is walk into the room, check out the file cabinets, make sure you’re not inside, and then make my way to the ceiling. But I’m not the stupid one, you’re the stupid one. Because I’m not even in this office room. So far everything I’ve said has been a cleverly planned ruse, designed to make you spend at least half an hour locked inside, pointlessly opening up cabinets, pushing aside ceiling tiles, and then spending even more time trying get those ceiling tiles back into place. It’s not as easy at it looks, especially in this office building, because the ceiling is so high up you need a step ladder to reach it.

Or maybe I am in the ceiling. You’ll never know. And if you’ve made it to this paragraph, I doubt that you’ll ever challenge me to a game of hide and seek. You’ll think to yourself, no way, Rob’s already thought this out further than I care to spend time playing and, ultimately being soundly defeated.

It’s because I’m the best at finding the best hiding spots. I think I’m technically still currently playing at least half a dozen games of manhunt. It’s like the Korean War, nobody’s playing anymore, but the game never ended on account of me never having been found out. It’s like, if you really, really never want to see me again, challenge me to a game, I hide, you seek. I’ll disappear from your life completely. Everywhere you look, that’s where I won’t be, I’ll make sure of it.

And that’s how I eventually want to make my exit from this mortal coil. I’m not going to waste my time saying goodbyes or writing out a will or making it like, ooh, I’ve only got a little bit of time left, I’ve better make every minute with my loved ones count. Nope, I’m going to challenge the whole family to a game of hide and seek, and they’ll be like, what? Are you serious? What’s going on? And I’ll just scream out, go! And that’ll be it. Poof. You’ll never find me or see me ever again. I’m the best at finding hiding spots.

More made-for-TV shark movies, please

Sharknado was so three weeks ago, I know, but that’s exactly when I usually like to jump on a bandwagon, after mostly everybody’s already gotten off. Can you imagine what it would have been like for me to make some Sharknado comments at the same time as everybody else in the country? They would have been drowned in an ocean of exactly the same stuff. But I find that if you wait a few weeks, it’ll be over, most people have already stopped talking about it, and now I’m free to join in, uninterrupted.


Besides, I’m not here to talk about Sharknado anyway, I’m here to talk about other ideas for made-for-TV sci-fi movies. Like Sharkcountant. What would you do if you brought your taxes in to get filed, only to find a shark sitting behind the desk? Would you freak out? I mean, I’d be scared initially, like, if it’s a shark, they’re pretty nasty looking, all of those rows of teeth. But the movie would have to make at least a little sense, and so yeah, he’d still look like a shark, but he’d probably be able to talk. I don’t know how difficult it would be for a shark to pass his CPA exam, but I’m guessing he’d have to behave at least well enough to get through business school, to get hired, eventually starting his own practice.

And so yeah, maybe Sharkcountant might be a little boring. It would make for a great ten-minute intro. Like you’d see the shark, but he’d be wearing a tie, maybe some glasses, and as the main character tries to run away, the shark would have to beg him to stop screaming, “Please! I know how this looks, but I assure you I’m an accountant. I won’t eat you, I promise!”

Obviously, Sharkitect, that’s a title just begging for a low-budget production. But that’s got to be a hard directorial choice to make, do you go for an anthropomorphic shark going through the above scenario, going to architecture school, finding an apprenticeship willing to at least entertain the idea of employing a shark? Or do you take it in a different direction? Maybe this movie is underwater, deep below the sea there’s maybe like a shark civilization, and they live in buildings designed for sharks, by sharks. And it could just be the tale of a sharkitect with a vision, a dream to bust into the rarified world of high-end sharkitecture.

I guess … that’s it? When I started writing this, Sharkcountant popped into my head almost immediately. I had this false sense that this whole thing was going to write itself. It’d be easy, I’d just make shark jokes and combine shark with other non-shark words and, you know, basically what they do whenever they make one of those shark movies for TV. But I wrote out the Sharkcountant paragraph, and then I was like, huh, there’s still a lot of empty page that I’m going to have to cover.

And then I sat here for like twenty minutes, eventually getting to the point where I was just looking for any word that could handle being merged with the word shark. Sharkitect. Done. But again, I really didn’t have anything to say besides the whole underwater thing, and let’s be honest, that was kind of boring, right?

Another twenty minutes of staring off into space, then some brainstorming. Shark Therapy. Pool shark. The Curious Life of Sharkamin Button. Sharkano, like half shark, half volcano.

And that’s when I realized I wasn’t going anywhere, Sharkano, one because I’d have to explain it, it’s a title that doesn’t speak for itself. People would see it and be like, Sharkano? What is that, like half shark half … what? And then maybe the subtitle would be, “Half shark, half volcano.” But even then, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Maybe a volcano that spews out sharks instead of lava, but I feel that’s kind of just ripping off the Sharknado, a tornado comprised of sharks.

What if I keep it simple? What about a crossover? I could do like Sharkcountant Meets the Sharkitect. You know, maybe the Sharkitect finally does start his own small architecture firm, but he’s bad with numbers, so he needs to hire an accountant. And maybe a few regular human accountants interview for the position, but right before he makes the decision, Sharkcountant walks in.

The Sharkitect obviously wants to pick the other shark, but he doesn’t want to make it look like he’s playing favorites, so he just tells everyone that he went with someone who’d make a better fit. Eventually it would blow up, they’d realize that they have too little in common once they got past the fact that they’re both sharks. And that could lead to the long awaited Sharkitect vs. Sharkcountant, they’d get angry, their true shark natures would tear through and they’d have to fight to the death.

All right, I’m bored. I wish I had never jumped on this bandwagon. Sharknado was fun while it lasted, but did anybody else watch it? It was awful. It wasn’t even funny awful. I didn’t even watch the whole thing. After like fifteen minutes I took stock of my life, I was like, I’m really sitting here watching this? And did anybody else think that there were way too many commercials?

Crab grass

Maybe I like crab grass better than regular grass. I just wish I’d thought of this sooner, I could have used the change in perspective, the shift in attitude like a month ago, more toward the beginning of spring, not now, middle of summer, I’ve already waged this ridiculous lawn war against, who? What? And mostly unsuccessful by the way.

crab grass

It was really nothing that I cared about at all, until one day one of my neighbors left this old push lawnmower on my lawn. No, I still don’t know which neighbor, by the way, I think it’s such a coward’s move. Fine, I haven’t been keeping my side of the street clean, that’s great, you want the block to be a little bit more presentable? I understand that. But maybe, I don’t know, knock on my door? Say something face to face?

Talk about passive aggressive. I’m a reasonable guy. I like to believe that I could have been approached like any other human being, “Hey Rob, we’ve been a little concerned lately about your grass,” which, who really cares about grass anyway? You’re telling me that you’ve got nothing better to do than to sit around and worry about me letting my grass get a little high?

And so what if it’s a little high, maybe I like my grass a little taller. But whatever, I’m reasonable, to a point. It’s hard to be reasonable to an inanimate object, some stupid piece of shit old-fashioned lawnmower. Where the hell did you find something like this anyway? What, was this thing inherited? Like did the owners of the property use it to keep their lawn pretty in case General Washington happened to be passing through town?

I left it there for a while, like don’t tell me how to keep my lawn, like this is America. But one day, I don’t know, I guess I got bored, I guess I just wanted to show the neighbors, OK, I get it, yeah, the lawn could use a little upkeep. And it’s not like I had my own lawnmower anyway. I just, I don’t remember this being an issue last year. The grass wasn’t that tall. Why was it so much bushier this year?

So I got out there and started pushing this thing around, and it was terrible. I’m pretty sure that the blades were all dull, I mean, I did cut myself when I went to feel them, but I’ve cut my hand with a butter knife before, I’m telling you, these things were dull. And I tried, I ran this thing up and down the front lawn, over and over again, the whole time looking at the houses next to me, across the street from me, just focusing on those blinds, one of them would move maybe, whoever planted this piece of garbage on my property, maybe they were watching, like, finally, he’s finally using it.

But I think that I was paying so much attention to the windows – nothing, by the way – that I didn’t notice the dull blades digging out these thick chunk of dirt. I was just hacking away at the soil, making a huge mess. And yeah, I’ve admitted it, it was kind of overgrown before, but now it was definitely worse. Like I wish I had taken a before photo. Or even an after photo. I never take photos. Why do I have this camera on my phone if I’m not going to take photos?

But just chunks of grass and dirt here and there, like worms coming up, it was terrible. And of course I got pissed. I was actually already pissed, like I already said, just from having this thing on my lawn. What the fuck? You want me to start getting in your face with your housework? Huh? I’ve got a bunch of half-empty cans of paint somewhere in the basement, you want me to leave them on your porch? Maybe I’ll paint out a big message, “Paint me!” right on the front of your house, so if you want it gone you’ll have to paint the rest.

No, it’s fine, I’m fine, I’m not pissed off. A little pissed off. But I’m fine. Because now the lawn looked worse, like much worse, and if my shaggy grass was too much of an eyesore for Mr. or Mrs. busybody neighbor, than this, the way it was after, that’s probably like cause enough for aneurysm, a whole shit-fit, I can just picture them looking out the window, I can picture them, but I can’t see them, but I know they’re there, they’re like, “Really? He’s really just going to keep his lawn like that?”

And all of the grass that I turned up got brown within like a week. I stopped thinking much of it. The lawnmower disappeared off of the front lawn one day, nice try buddy, put that thing back in the shed and so help me God don’t let me see you wheeling it out one day. But that’s when the crab grass started. I guess with a whole new playing field, all of those freshly unearthed chunks of dirt, the crab grass had ample opportunity to sprout, to really get in there and recolonize.

I don’t know, I bought some of this weed spray at Home Depot, but it didn’t do anything. In fact, I think it just killed the remaining good grass, because that’s when the crab grass really took off, just these mini bushes of thick blades. Again, I kind of liked it, but the town, these buttinskis with their village ordinances and state wildlife guidelines, they’re putting notices on my front door when I’m not home. Just show your faces, all right? Telling me I’ve got to take care of the crab grass, that I might attract ticks. What if I like ticks, huh? How come nobody’s asking me if I don’t like ticks, or crab grass? Huh? Hey Rob, I hope you don’t mind that our lawns aren’t covered in ticks and crabgrass like yours is. Is that cool? Do you mind? We wouldn’t want to get in the way of what you want, how you like things around here, on what you like on your lawns. And I’m the crazy one here?

Fresh power chords, pointy toothpicks, brand new shirts with the tags still on

I love it when you buy a new phone or a new laptop or keyboard and they always come with a new cord or a new charger. It’s always perfectly wrapped, the chord looped around itself in a way that’s impossible to replicate with your bare hands. After it’s worn and used a couple of times you might try and see if you can get it back in that shape, but never, it’s not happening, and then you try to untangle it again and somehow there’s a knot now, like how did it get there? It just kind of tied itself out of nowhere.

power chord

And that feeling, man, fresh power chord. In a week it’s not going to be white anymore, it’s not going to feel like it does now, it’s going to be slick, slippery, there’ll be like scuff marks on it, even though you don’t remember scuffing it on anything. Why can’t it feel brand new for a little longer? What’s going on in the air or by the wall that makes this thing degrade in quality almost overnight?

It’s like when you’re at a restaurant and right in the middle of the table there’s a toothpick dispenser, and all of the toothpicks are individually wrapped. And, I don’t know about all of you, but toothpicks don’t work for me. The idea of stabbing the space in between my teeth with a sharpened pointy little stick, no thanks, I’ll stick to floss picks. But there they are, so of course I’m going to dispense a few, play around with them in my hands, take them out of the wrappers. And these things are perfect, pristine, it’s exactly how I imagine a toothpick to be when I’m thinking about toothpicks. I touch the end and it’s the definition of pointy. But that’s it. You touch it once, it does something to the point, you touch it again, it’s not so pointy anymore.

And then you start chewing on it and rolling it around in your fingers and now you’ve got like individual wood fibers or whatever, it’s on your clothes, there are pieces of it in your mouth, and you look down at the tables and you’ve already done it three or four times, and so you try to push it all to one side, so that way when the waitress drops off your food, she doesn’t make this huge effort to wipe down the table, all of those toothpicks, and look, you did it to the straw wrapper also, all of the straw wrappers everywhere.

This is all reminding me of clothing, like when you buy a brand new shirt at the mall, and I’m not talking about anything fancy, not necessarily. It’s just a regular t-shirt, a simple short-sleeved button down maybe, and everything’s comfortable, you get out of the shower, you throw on your new shirt, you leave the house. Maybe like ten minutes after you’re out the front door you notice it, that little itch right on your side, right above the belt line.

It’s a small itch at first, maybe you’re not even totally conscious of what’s going on, but eventually, you find yourself scratching this same spot over and over again, and it’s not working, maybe it’s getting worse from all of the excessive itching. And so your brain takes over, all right, now you’ve got my attention, what seems to be the problem?

And it’s a tag. Why would they put a tag there? Why would they put a tag anywhere on a shirt? It’s the most annoying sensation. I remember being a little kid and actually being afraid of certain pieces of clothing, knowing that, once my mom laid out an outfit for me, that was it, I’d be condemned to a whole day of not being able to sit still, totally uncomfortable, please get this tag to stop making my life miserable.

And some shirts, it’s even worse. They put this really long tag on top of that tag, and it’s a little fabric pouch, it’s got a long hard strip in there. What is this, anti-theft technology? How do they deactivate it after purchase? Why am I carrying this thing out of the store with no alarms going off? And it’s always out of the house when I figure out the problem. Because, in the house would be too convenient, I’d get a pair of scissors, problem would be solved.

No, this is going to drive me crazy all day, I’ll start playing with the tag, seeing if I can’t rip it out with my hands, knowing that I’m probably going to damage the shirt, trying to set it out of my mind, not doing a good job of setting it out of my mind. Now I’m playing with it unconsciously and, yep, now I’ve done it. Maybe I haven’t ruined the shirt like ruined it, ruined it, but it’s definitely stretched out a little, like if you’re wearing it and you’re looking at it you’ll think, what they hell? Why is this little spot so stretched out?

Like when you’re playing basketball at your parents’ house, and yeah they have a ball, and yeah, they’ve got a pump, so everything should be OK, but that ball, nobody really plays basketball here that much, not anymore, not since everybody moved out. There’s a little bubble, something, it’s a lump. It’s like the shape of the basketball is just slightly, almost imperceptibly lumped on just this one side. But what are you going to do, complain? You’re just shooting around with your brothers. But every once in a while you’ve got possession, you go to make a move but the ball dribbles right on that lump, just enough so that it bounces maybe an inch or two to the left. Your younger brother takes advantage, steals the ball and scores. What are you going to do, you’re going to say something? I guess it’s his disadvantage also. But come on, there’s no way that would have happened if we just had a regular ball, no lumps, no tiny little bumps sending everything just a little off, just totally ruining an otherwise nice game of basketball.