Monster Movie Mayhem (or, Suddenly It’s Sunday)

Yesterday morning, I decided to get a haircut and then catch the very early matinee of the new Godzilla movie. Thanks to time being fleeting and not infinite — seriously, who do I need to talk to about that? — I wound up only doing the second of those two things. Which why right now I’m still in real need of a haircut but I did get to see a giant lizard smash through giant buildings.

And you know, Godzilla is kind of an odd movie. I’d watched the original only a week ago, for the first time, and while I hadn’t loved that movie, it also hadn’t dimmed my interest in seeing the remake. (Interest that was sparked, really, by what I still think is a well done trailer.) But ask me about the movie now I think I can only tell you this: Godzilla’s very good in it. He’s probably the best actor. And that’s not even really a joke.

The giant lizard is definitely the most compelling presence in the film — a very shouty Bryan Cranston and not-even-a-little-shouty Ken Watanabe notwithstanding. But it’s altogether possible that that’s by choice. David Ehrlich of the Dissolve argues that the movie is ”
the first post-human blockbuster,” and I have to say, he makes a fairly convincing argument:

The film’s evocative closing shot serves as a resonant reminder that just because we’re the planet’s predominant storytellers doesn’t mean that the story is necessarily about us.

Then again, even if you don’t buy the argument, or you don’t think it’s enough to account for (or overcome) the blandness of some of the characters, I’m not joking when I saw Godzilla is very good in the movie. If nothing else, it’s some pretty terrific CGI.

I can definitely not say the same for the next couple of movies I watched yesterday.

Heather has already written up yesterday’s “Bad Movie Night,” wherein a bunch of us willingly subjected ourselves to Storage 24 and the improbably named Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark and joked about them both over Twitter. I’m tempted to just direct you to her write-up, as she’s accumulated a lot of the best tweets from last night’s double-header. I’ll say this: neither movie was especially good, but both were wonderful fun to watch and laugh at. And, seriously, this happened. No movie in which that happens can be all bad, however hard it may try.

And besides, it’s less about the movies themselves — which by design are terrible — and more the great fun of watching them with friends.

Today, with my writing group friend Maurice, I saw X-Men: Days of Future Past, which was decent enough summer fare, enjoyable, but not remarkable. I do like the way the AV Club’s review describes it:

It’s a loose adaptation of one of the all-time great Marvel storylines, with Professor X and Magneto using Shadowcat’s powers to send Wolverine’s consciousness back in time to 1973 so that he can help their past selves set aside their differences and avert a dystopian, Sentinel-run future by preventing Mystique from assassinating Bolivar Trask. Readers who are confused by any or all parts of the preceding sentence should take it as a warning.

Honestly, though, there’s not a whole lot more to say about the movie. It does a pretty decent job of marrying the earlier X-Men movies, prequel and all, and is probably the only comic book movie we’re likely to see for awhile set largely in the early 1970s. But it’s not often very distinctive or inventive, even if it is decent enough fun.

In between all this movie watching, I finished reading and responding to all of my Kaleidotrope submissions. Which is a lovely feeling. I still have two issues to edit before the end of this year, but for the next seven months I won’t have to read another story I don’t want to accept. I didn’t run the actual stats for this past reading period, but I’d say out of roughly 250-300 submissions, I accepted maybe ten. Which, actually, seems maybe a little high.

I also wrote this:

They’d made planetfall in winter, the team leader said, which explained the hardiness of the local population but also the scarcity of diverse genetic stock. Only ten dozen of the original settlers had survived that first season, and through the next fifty years, intermarriage had left them fit for the harsh conditions on the planet’s surface but prone to illness, especially when traveling outside the valleys in Icarus’ (relatively) more temperate zones.

“Why Icarus?” one of the geo-engineers, Burke, asked. “In the myth, didn’t Icarus fly too close to the sun?”

“As near as we can tell, that’s local irony,” the team leader said. She glanced again at the planet’s specs and her notes, which were not extensive. “The settler’s original ship was thrown off course after miscalculating the gravitation of the smaller of the system’s binary stars. A joke,” she added, “though obviously not a great one.”

“Isn’t this like the third Icarus we’ve been called in on in as many months?” asked the pilot. Grace Wong didn’t always attend these preliminary meetings, but team leader was glad to see her nevertheless. “Don’t these people have any imagination?”

“In all fairness to this planet, they crashed before either Icarus Prime or Icarus II were colonized.”

“And we’re pulling them out anyway,” said Burke, “right?”

“Right,” the team leader said. “The Ic — the planet has become untenable. The system’s primary sun isn’t dying, exactly, but they’ll be outside a shrinking habitable zone in less than another generation.”

“Wait,” said Wong. “What does ’isn’t dying, exactly,’ mean? Is it going nova or not?”

“Not exactly,” the team leader said. She’d been worried about this, but better to get it out in the open now before they ported to system. “Command has reason to believe that whatever’s happening with the sun is artificial, neither a natural nor man-made process.”

“Command?” said Burke. “Since when did we start taking orders from — wait are you saying Alterians?”

“We have reason to suspect their involvement, yes.”

“And you’re just telling us this now?” said Wong. “You want me to fly us into beastie-controlled territory and you didn’t even tell us til now?”

“It’s a little more complicated that,” the team leader said. “And there’s another reason why we have to evacuate Icarus.”

I can’t say I much like it, but sometimes you just go where the prompt takes you. (Even if, in this case, I didn’t get the prompt itself in at all.)

I plan tomorrow mostly reading, maybe writing some. It’s a three-day weekend, which is nice, and hopefully today’s nice weather will last a little while longer.

The weekend

Yesterday, I got a haircut and finished reading the last of January’s submissions for Kaleidotrope. That maybe doesn’t sound like a full day — and heaven knows submissions have kept coming in all through February and into March — but if you think my Saturday was in any way wasted, I have just two very simple words for you:

Arctic Blast.

I watched this cinematic — or is tele-visual? Wikipedia suggests the movie premiered on screen, but I think it aired primarily on the Syfy Channel — classic over Twitter with friends. On any objective level, it’s a terrible movie, with bad effects and some questionable acting. Michael Shanks gives it his all, or at least whatever percentage of his all he decided the movie was worth, but it’s ridiculous disaster movie. Heather’s already posted a good rundown of the night’s film, including several of the funnier comments. (Keep in mind, of course, that this is a woman who calls Sharknado “a metaphor for modern life, in which chainsaws solve all our problems.”)

I’ve been watching my fair share of bad movies lately, but watching them with friends — even when those friends are separated by several time zones — is a whole lot better.

Today, I wrote a little with my weekly group:

“Do not call me Master,” the doppleganger said. “Call me…Phil.”

He didn’t look like a Phil, but Alison knew it wouldn’t do her any good to tell him that, not with that weird crooked staff, still crackling with energy, held over his head. It had taken only a single blast of that energy to get rid of Nate — which was no big loss, as far as Alison was concerned, but she also wasn’t in any hurry to join him in an atomized spray of used-to-be-people particles. She’d called this weirdo Master out of some instinct — it was what the long crimson robe and dangerous magic seemed to demand — but if Phil was what he wanted, then Phil was what he’d get. She wasn’t going to risk making him angry like Nate had, at least not until she managed to wrestle that magic stick away from him.

It was funny, though, Alison thought. He didn’t look a Phil so much as he looked like…well, Nate. She hadn’t really noticed that before, but the resemblance was a little uncanny. Was that why her now very ex-boyfriend had called the man the doppleganger before they’d awoken him? Then he’d just looked like some old dude propped up on a big rock inside a cave — “entombed upon the altar of Circe’s midnight slumber,” Nate had said, which she was sure was something he was remembering wrong from out of some book. The man had looked kind of peaceful, actually, serene, and she hadn’t seen Nate look like that even once in all the time they had been dating.

True, they’d been hunting magic and legends since their second date — or was the Bigfoot trap officially their third? It had seemed fun at the time. Nate had seemed fun at the time. But that was long before they’d stumbled across this Merlin-wannabe who’d zapped Nate into a cloud of nothingness and then taken his face. Alison had been planning to break the relationship off after this excursion, just waiting for the right moment between the caves and the flight back home to the States. Should she tell him before they cleared customs, or after? Now Nate was gone and she’d escaped having to go through all that, thank god, but she hadn’t escaped this deadly wizard who could zap her too if he wanted, and even worse who looked like her ex.

You know, sometimes I just go wherever the prompt leads me.


It was a little warmer today, in that I didn’t necessarily feel like the Earth was actively trying to kill me with cold. Even the lows today were actually in the (low) double digits, and it could even get back up into the fifties by the weekend. (By which of course I mean lots of poodle skirts, malt shops, and Arthur Fonzarelli. Weather is weird.)

Anyway, it was otherwise a pretty ordinary day. I realized, midway through the afternoon when I reached up to scratch the back of my neck, that I’d been wearing my sweater inside-out all day. I was naturally nervous about reaching down to scratch my knee later on. I spent the rest of the day pulling together a report, though unfortunately only the one that really needs to get done, not the report that really really needs to get done. That second report is longer, and I’m still waiting on a couple of reviewers to disappoint me by failing to deliver their reviews despite promising to do so.

Oh, and I wrote this, which by several metrics is the most popular thing I’ve ever written on Twitter:

I was also going to wish “Elvish” a happy birthday, but I couldn’t figure out the right runes for “Love Me Tender.”

Tuesday various

Tuesday various

  • Netflix is pretty sure it has no future in DVDs. You know, I like streaming and on-demand, but the selection is still not that great, relatively speaking. If Netflix could ensure the same level of selection and quality with streaming as with the physical DVDs…well, I’d still occasionally be annoyed they were most often DVDs without special features of any kind, but I’d be more willing to switch over to streaming-only. (If the high cost of having both doesn’t force the issue for me at some near-future point.) But Netflix can’t promise that. Some of it is out of their hands — studios are covetous of their movies and shows, and some (like HBO) see Netflix, maybe rightly, as a direct competitor. So I really do hope Netflix doesn’t continue their push towards streaming-and-only-streaming, that they realize it wasn’t just the Qwiskter name that upset customers. I want a wide and varied selection of movies and shows. I don’t want more of “You can’t watch that, but have you ever tried this…?”)
  • Indonesian man arrested for kicking woman he thought was a ghost [via]
  • Want to smell like a superhero? [via]
  • “Twitter is the contemporary postcard—social updates that are limited by size, but not imagination. For a month, with a billion stamps, our correspondent moved his tweets from the laptop to the post office, and rediscovered the joy of mail.”
  • And finally, Basil Fawlty Impersonator Chat:

    As Mark Evanier notes, “There are literally more professional impersonators of Basil Fawlty around than there were episodes of Fawlty Towers.”