Book to Tele

My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed the video series for Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society.

All the actors have done fine work portraying the characters. Tony Hale, most notably, has done a fantastic job playing the twins. He acts out a convincing slob as Nicholas, and a highly believable clean freak as Nathaniel. His parts as the twins are excellent, but wisely not too time-hoarding. The other characters and actors get a fair amount of time on the screen.

This paragraph (and from here on) contains spoilers—so if you haven’t read the books or seen the series, you may not want to read any more of this post. The latest offering of The Mysterious Benedict Society television series ends with a hilarious line from Nathaniel, who only recently had a change of heart from being the bad guy. He says, “We have a sister, and she’s not as nice as me.”

Great cliffhanger! Excellent use of new information as an element of suspense.

My worry here though, is that all the work to make the series great could be undone if Tony Hale plays the sister. He’s a talented actor, no doubt, and he’s great at acting different people, but they really should get a female to play the part of the sister. Sure it could be funny if the sister ends up looking just like the twins (facial hair and all?), but there wouldn’t be much tension between the characters if they’re all played by the same guy. It would make the whole thing too silly and novelty, you know? Like we’ve gone this far with quality characters and quality acting, and now it’s going to be just one guy playing the whole family? It would bring the series down to a level where it parodies itself, and that would lose my interest in a big hurry.

Regardless, and because, of my worry, I’m sure it’s evident that I’m invested in the show. They’ve done well to bring this series of books to a series of television shows. Hopefully it will continue in quality.

Fun for Thanksgiving

Yes! It’s Thanksgiving again. You, like many cavemen before you, are wondering, “What should we do with all these kinfolk running around?” Of course there’s the tried-and-true backyard rugby game, but you might be searching for things for those who don’t want to get grass stains on their knees.

Search no longer. I have one dozen ideas for your festivities. Some of these ideas can be done together, on the same day, or some of them may spark your own creativie ideas.

  1. Pose for a picture around the feast while wearing Halloween costumes.
  2. Pose for a picture around the feast with everyone’s mouth open.
  3. Ask the oldest person in the room to share some memories.
  4. After the soda is gone, build an air pressure bottle rocket with the two liter plastic bottles and a bike pump.
  5. Did you know you can get candy shaped like Legos? You can eat what you build. If you don’t have these in your house, you can build with toothpicks and marshmallows.
  6. With an accomplice, start a text message thread with the whole family, only you and your accomplice use a different language.
  7. Modified Monopoly—–Nuclear Monopoly: Select one of the deed cards ahead of time. Place it where no one can see it. The first time someone rolls 2 or 12, that property on the board “gets nuked”. Place the deed card in the middle of the board so everyone knows which space is affected. Anyone on the space at the time is out of the game. Anyone passing the space thereafter loses 100$.—–Chance Monopoly: Add a few zeros to the dollar amounts on the Chance cards.—–Vampire Monopoly: The first time someone goes to jail, they are a vampire. If they pass another player, that player is now a vampire too. The game ends if all players are turned into vampires, and the initial vampire player wins. All normal rules apply, so if a vampire player goes bankrupt before a non-vampire player, the non-vampire player wins. A “wooden stake” (use a toothpick to represent the stake) can be purchased from the bank for 500$ and used when the person with the stake passes the vampire player. The vampire player is then stuck on that spot until they roll doubles.
  8. Modified Risk—–Nuclear Risk: Select a land ahead of time. After everyone gets 5 turns, the player with the fewest armies may choose to nuke the land, whether they occupy it or not. After 10 turns the player with the most armies may choose to nuke the land, whether they occupy it, or not.—–Population Explosion Risk: Select 3 territory cards ahead of time without looking at them. After everyone gets 5 turns, those 3 territories, and whoever occupies them (it may be different players), get 20 extra armies.
  9. If you find yourself alone in the crowded room, you could add a few outlandish things to the to-do list on the fridge. See if anyone notices.
  10. Bathrobe parade. Score points for the funkiest bathrobe. Lose points if you don’t have any clothes on under your robe.
  11. Write the date and a groovy message in the dust on top of the piano.
  12. Do you have nosy neighbors? Act out a turkey funeral in your yard. That’ll give them something to talk about.

Family is the number one on people’s lists of what they’re thankful for. Enjoy your time with your family.

That Sinking Feeling

Have you ever been in the middle of doing something you shouldn’t have been doing and felt as if someone was watching you? And did you have the sensation which told you they weren’t only watching you but watching you from nearby?

Like that day you were drawing a picture of your teacher. The teacher was lecturing long and pacing while doing it.

You were intent on capturing the precise detail of your art. You couldn’t take your eyes off of the picture, it was that good.

The pacing teacher was loud and long-winded. Then suddenly quiet.

“I love how you brought out my eyes.”

Standing behind you was the very focus of the caricature, assessing it generously. Even though you were redeemed by the compliment, you were still caught. You wanted to shrivel up on the spot. You wanted to disappear.

Some wise fingers, your fingers, slid the drawing slowly, silently, under some other papers. The pencil remained frozen between your fingers. Your eyes stayed down, afraid to find anyone else’s eyes.

The sinking feeling went away, of course. Class ended, and eventually so did the shame. You recovered. And days later, when you went through your papers you found the drawing.

It made you laugh so hard you thought you’d die.

Music Videos with Pizzazz! 2

You need more entertainment in your life. Well, here are some more adventurous videos to watch and hear. The music is good enough by itself, but throw in a solid video and you have yourself entertainment gold! So, run off to YouTube and search for these videos.

The Dinosaur Jr. video is particularly funny. And the Cardigans manage to hint at two classic movies at the same time with their video.

  1. Front Line Assembly—Stealth Mech
  2. Dinosaur Jr.—Feel The Pain
  3. Skinny Puppy—Illisit
  4. The Cardigans—Erase/Rewind
  5. Clutch—X-Ray Visions
  6. The Mess Hall—Bell
  7. Soundgarden—The Day I Tried To Live
  8. Clutch—Hot Bottom Feeder
  9. Beck—Up All Night
  10. Front Line Assembly—Unknown

Recently Viewed: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

This is actually a review comparing two movies. I recommend Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. If you’re looking for something to watch on Halloween, this is a good pick. There are some frightening scenes though, so don’t let young Trick-or-Treaters watch it.

Drawing power: Does the story pull you in and make you feel as if you’re part of the world?

From the outset, you’re going for a ride. The action comes at appropriate intervals. The dialog doesn’t drag on too long. (Unlike Thor: Love and Thunder. Oof! Dialog scenes killed that whole movie.) The world of Doctor Strange, as defined by Sam Raimi, is something you can get lost in for a long time, or at least as long as the movie. There’s tension as good characters become bad characters, and vice versa. There’s beauty in the multiverse, especially with the casting choices for the Illuminati (alternate universe instances of well-known superheroes).

Interest factor: Is the story something you want to hear, see, know? Are you craving to discover how it ends?

At no time do you see exactly how it’s going to end, though there are a smattering of clues. Despite being a Raimi fan, I did not see the zombification factor—until it arrived in all of its toothy splendor. Not only is that interesting, but it’s a bit crazy. Using all the curses against the character and making them strengths? Brilliant!

Comparison though, drags Taika Waititi down. His Love and Thunder made me not care about the Love or the Thunder. Actually, in retrospect, the Thor movie might have been better if it was focused more toward Jane Foster.

Offensive factor: Does it present sex, violence, cursing too abundantly or too vividly? Does it present a querulous agenda?

There’s agenda in the multiverse, but it’s so slim, gossamer, and transparent that it really doesn’t matter, just like in real life. Actually, in Love and Thunder, the agenda moment is exactly the same as in the multiverse, wallowing in pusillanimity enough to not be noticed. Able to be overlooked, the moments end up looking like someone in the editing booth checking a box. Also, in Love and Thunder there’s a butt scene. Though I think their intent was to draw in the female viewers, it doesn’t make the movie any more worth watching. The plot still fails.

There’s no need for gratuitous butt-shots in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Range of emotion: Is the story serious when necessary? Do the jokes come at appropriate times? Does the story present emotions at pleasing intervals?

Some of the emotions evoked in the multiverse include: fear, terror, fright, awe. Just kidding. There are lots of emotions represented, and some of them collect returns. There are some few jokes, but not too many to take away from the action. There are some tender moments, I suppose. It’s difficult to tell. Of the multitude of “billionaires” within the Marvel Universe, I can handle Dr. Strange slightly more easily than Tony Stark. The fact that Dr. Strange has lost so much in his personal life actually makes him more personable, more human, though he still comes off much of the time as conceited.

Emotions in Love and Thunder tend toward impotence, mainly due to the cheesy song choices. I mean, if you’re going to load up a bunch of sappy hair metal to the soundtrack, at least mix it up so you’ve got a variety of emotions represented. The way Love and Thunder plays out, it’s better with a mute button.

Character factor: Are there good actors (not necessarily famous ones) in the film? Are there quality protagonists/antagonists in the literary work? Is there a quality dynamic between the characters? Is the narrator mostly invisible?

Everyone in this film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, does a fine acting job. Bruce Campbell takes a cameo and steals the show for a couple of scenes.

In Love and Thunder, I ended up wishing there was more of Christian Bale’s character, Gor. Also, there could have been more “Mighty Thor”, as played by Jane Foster, er, Natalie Portman.

Style: Does the film use sloppy-cam? Does the literary work use loose plot lines? Are all the words in the right places? Are all the props in the right scenes?

There was a little bit of sloppy-cam interspersed, but I think Sam Raimi exerted his will enough over the common Disney-folk to inject his signature master-class quality film technics. Because of this film, I think we can put Sam Raimi’s name right alongside Stanley Kubrick’s.

Likewise, Taika Waititi only used sloppy-cam in a few places, but sadly, the action in Love and Thunder was minimal, even hard to find. In more than one of the scenes, it seemed like Taika was trying to recapture the excellence of that scene in Ragnarok with the Led Zeppelin song and Thor’s lightning. It didn’t work, of course. You have to understand, “Immigrant Song” came from the Wilsons, a highly musical family (think Beach Boys and Heart), and then the song was expanded by the boys of Led Zeppelin to make something amazing. None of the music in Love and Thunder had such a pedigree.

Proper length: Does a fantasy world require multiple manuscripts? Does a dystopian world beg to be spartan or truncated?

For a multiverse, it sure didn’t expand infinitely—and that’s a good thing.

Rating: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness gets six out of seven stars. Love and Thunder gets one.