Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Dean Winchester Award 1: Batman's Special Attack

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, your attention please...

It is with great pleasure, I introduce to you a new segment of this fine online series of textual opinion...



This prestigious honour will be bestowed upon only those who manage to equal or even exceed (if that is even cosmically possible) the insane awesomeness and sexual epicery of Dean Winchester.

And the winner of today's award is...



1980s BATMAN!

The award is bestowed on this specific incarnation of the Dark Knight, not because of his nightmarish adventures in his elder years (The Dark Knight Returns) not for his efforts in establishing himself as an urban vigilante against the weed of unstoppable white-collar crime (Batman: Year One) and not even for his apprehension of the kooky villain 'Magpie' (with the help of Superman in Man of Steel #3); but instead for the way he handled a bodyguard from the fictional, hilariously named Bogatago (I say "fictional" because I can't seem to find it listed in Google Earth or Google Maps).

Our adventure begins with Robin (the second one; the trouble, angry young man named Jason Todd) answering the scream of a woman in a high-rise building (because...you know...Robin swings on ropes and can reach high floors). Upon entry, he discovers the sleaze of one Felipe Garzonas, who he quickly subdues, only to be cornered by the burly 'Juan'...



At this point, Batman uses his deus ex machina powers to come to the lad's rescue, appearing out of nowhere (as he always does)...



What happens next is what makes this issue so very special and hilariously awesome. For in the very next panel, we are given this eloquent piece of pop art...



The fact that it isn't even the primary focus of the panel (Batman chastising his reckless young partner, is) is what makes it so stupidly beautiful.

Batman just drilled a guy into a wall.

It took him TWENTY SECONDS.

And of course, because he's Batman, we question not his ability to perform this most absurd fighting art, nor do we lament the artist for not showing us this gorgeous piece of violence as it is actually happens. This is why the Caped Crusader has earned the award I proudly bestow upon him.

BONUS EPICERY:

For some reason, the issue also seems to have an anti-Cocaine message ingrained into it (it was the 1980s, after all), as this beautiful piece of dialogue shows us:



But that's not even the best part:



Batman-vs-Cocaine.

I'll leave you with the awesomeness of that concept and I won't even mention how the rest of the issue involves Batman and Robin taking down an hilariously shoddy cocaine-ring headed by a bizarrely-bearded lumberjack-esque man named 'Parker'.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Quick Caffeine-Fuelled Thoughts: Linguistics

Sochtheangeolaíocht is the worst thing to write essays about. They always give us nightmarish word-count-requirements and the reading lists are often as long as entire books (naturally, none of us ever read a single book on the list).

DAMNÚ AIR!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quick Thoughts While Experiencing a Caffeine High 14/12/09

I love Florence & The Machine's cover of "You've Got the Love" something wickedly fierce.

She's hopelessly beautiful in that video, in a way that very few pop stars are, these days. I wish to marry her.

I WISH TO MARRY HER, I SAY!

I imagine we would have a wedding on some sort of silvery moon and she would recite her vows by singing me that song. Awesome.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Obscure Movies that I watch during the Christmas Break

I mentioned earlier how one of my favourite things to do during the Christmas Break is to watch obscure movies that aren't on during the year. These are movies that usually aren't on during the year, for a reason, but some of them are actually quite good. I doubt you won't have heard of the ones listed here.

So let's go.

5. Flash Gordon (1980)






There really are only three groups of people who truly appreciate what this film is. I'm not sure if any of them are actual "fans" of the Flash Gordon comic strip (yes, there is one, in case you're an idiot), but they deserve recognition, nonetheless. I would ascertain that roughly 70% of the people who like this film are bondage-fetishists and general ultra-softcore-porn fans. This film is chock full of suggestive scenes including this fine piece of cinema:



So...yeah, there's that.

The second group of people who would typically make up the fanbase would undoubtedly be Queen enthusiasts, as the soundtrack is famously performed by them. That song really, really, really gets on your nerves by the time the film is over.

Lastly, there is a tiny, almost infinitesimal group of people who like Flash Gordon as a kitschy space opera, which is so-bad-it's-good on purpose. Throughout the film, the special effects are lacklustre, the acting is wooden and the plot is ridiculous. Why? Because they were paying tribute to the matinee serials in which all of those elements played a part in making them so loveable. There's a reason you can see the strings in the final battle.
It's a little-known fact that George Lucas originally sought after the rights to Flash Gordon, while trying to make a science fiction epic in the 70s. When he failed, he decided to make something called Star Wars, instead. When that turned out to be the biggest high-concept movie of all-time and space, every similar property was churned out into the cinema (see: Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Last Starfighter, etc.). And so, the Flash Gordon movie was born. However, instead of trying to go head-to-head with what Lucas had created, the makers instead made it into a loveably stupid movie that is good for all of the wrong reasons. This is why I like it. It's perfect, lazy, brain-off watching, but I could never really see myself buying the DVD; which requires a whole new level of appreciation.


4. Supergirl (1984)





Ah, Supergirl. The ultimate in cash-ins.

The Supergirl movie was made after Superman III (but before Superman IV), because the Salkinds (the producers of the Superman movies, up until this one) didn't think Christopher Reeve would want to do any more of them (which he eventually did). It truly is one of the more obscure superhero movies to the point where a lot of people don't even know it exists. It's the ultimate example of a film that I should really buy on DVD, given how much of a completist I am when it comes to Superman; but I just can't really be bothered, because it's just this weird little black sheep of a movie.



(There's so much to say about this picture. So very much.)

In a lot of ways, it feels more like a TV movie pilot than an actual theatrical release. The plot isn't particularly big and the scenes never have much of an epic feel to them, the way they did in the first two Superman movies. But to its credits, it's a fun little movie if you like Superman or even just if you can't sleep and want to watch something that isn't Shakespeare. Plus, Helen Slater is mind-numbingly hot (even today).


3. Jingle All The Way (1996)



"EEEHT'S CHAIRBO TYME!"

One of Schwarzenegger's infamous forays into the realm of "Family Comedy" and certainly the most well-received (although not necessarily for the right reasons). This film benefits from the supporting cast, all of whom are unintentionally hilarious (with the exception of the late, great Phil Hartman, who isn't really given anything funny to do). The plot is the typically clichéd, yuppie father trying to reconnect with his son by fulfilling his Christmas wish. However, unlike most of these kinds of films, where the kid wants something like a house or a new mom or a best friend or something equally corny, this kid (the tragically funny, utterly talentless Jake Lloyd, who would go on to polarise Star Wars fans in a single film, three years later) just wants the "must-have" toy of the year; in this case, a superhero doll.


(This photo is of a 'little person' who once played a character named 'Mini-Me', dressed as Santa Claus, sitting on the shoulders of a man who is well-known for playing The Terminator in three films. Said man is now the Governor of California. Well done, Universe. You win.)

This film is classic Schwarzenegger in that he clearly thought it was the best holiday family comedy, ever while making it. His stock expression of "Oh crap." (see: the poster at the top of the post) is pure, cinematic gold.


2. Muppets Take Manhattan

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At this point in the list, I'm willing to admit that I actually wish I owned this film, because I reference it throughout the year and it is certainly one of the funniest films I've ever seen. To be fair, this film is probably my favourite on the entire list; the only reason it's number two and not number one is because as a Christmas movie, it's not as ideally placed in this list as the one in the number one slot.

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Sadly, like a lot of pre-Pixar kids' movies, this gets shoe-horned into that very genre and nobody bothers giving it a second look. The movie is comedic gold and packed full of excellent "WTF" deadpan moments. It's hard enough to do this kind of comedy with people and Jim Henson managed it with puppets. I would post some videos, but it would ruin the surprise when you actually do watch the movie. Please watch this.


1. The Santa ClausE (1995)

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The fact that so many people misspell 'Santa Claus' and add the 'e' at the end, is testament to this movie's effect on popular culture. Indeed, it's yet another movie that I wish I owned on DVD.

Funnily enough, while I do hate Christmas for the most part (mainly due to my own self-contained experiences with it), I actually love the idea of Santa Claus. In a lot of ways, he's pretty much the greatest superhero ever and he's certainly the most popular. Cynics look at him as just "lying to your kids," etc, but I sort of look at him as a metaphor for faith, trust and believing in something that you can't necessarily see. If your parents do a good enough job of instilling the values and spirit of this icon, by the time you realise that there pretty much isn't a fat guy with flying reindeer who gives you presents every year, you still realise the importance of self-sacrifice and of giving to others. In that respect, Santa Claus really is real. And that's why this movie is awesome.

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(This is a screencap from the sequel. It was impossible trying to find images for this particular film, because of the aforementioned, mass misspelling)

The reason it works so well is because for the first two acts of the movie, everything that the two protagonists believe could well have just been a dream. They don't have any proof that they visited the North Pole or that Scott (the dad) became the 'new' Santa Claus. All they have to go by is a weird little snow-globe that could just as easily have been some trinket they picked up, anywhere. Naturally, being an American movie, their belief is paid-off in full by the end of the movie and all of the cynical supporting characters are left with their jaws slacked and their spirits soaring, but at that point, you're having so much fun that you don't really care. I can't wait to watch this again, this Christmas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bah, Humbug or "How I stopped fooling myself and learned to Hate Christmas"

Before I get started on my rant (the first of many on this blog, hopefully), I should mention that the title (and indeed the Facebook group I recently joined which promotes the same negative message) is a bit misleading.

I don't hate Christmas. There are a number of things I like a lot about it, but the depressing thing is that most of those things are really, really shallow and vacuous. I can honestly say that being able to request things that are usually out of my range of attainability (games consoles and DVD sets) and being able to watch obscure movies that are never on during the year (Flash Gordon, Japanese Godzilla films) are the two things I like the most about Christmas.

I have a lot to say about this, so I'll split it up a bit. Stick around, you might learn something.


Family


Usually when I say something like this, I am given the stock response of "But what about getting to see your family who you don't usually see?" (usually in a really sugary, simple voice). I have a number of responses to this. First and foremost, I am lucky in that I see most of my favourite members of my extended family all the time (namely my two grandmothers, my godmother and her family) and rarely a year goes by when I don't see at least one of my father or mother's international siblings. They usually come in the Summer, a far better, less stressful time for me to enjoy their company. So, you know, there's that.

Secondly, any of you who know me (in most regards) will know how much of a stressed-out, obnoxious drama queen I can be when I want to be. Well, imagine this side of my personality times two and you basically have the ticking time bomb of manic stressfulness that is my beloved mother and her relationship with this wonderful holiday season. Add in the fact that my father and my two brothers are the complete and utter polar opposites of my mother and I when it comes to getting things done quickly and being enthusiastic in any way whatsoever, and you have a pretty good idea why Christmas (specifically the preparation end of it) isn't ever really any fun.

Also, I see my immediate family every single day. When I go on holiday, I don't go with them anymore, I go with my best friends. They're the people I want to see at Christmas.


Food


My mother is a wonderful cook and traditional, roast Sunday dinners with "all of the trimmings" or whatever are her speciality. So in essence, Christmas dinner is just another great Sunday dinner, for me. It's not really that much of a big deal. It's even a bit depressing, thinking of how many people around the world don't get to enjoy this basic luxury that I do.


The Tree

I have literally just spent over half an hour trying to reinvent the wheel with my parents as we tried getting the cursed piece of contradictory foliage to stand upright. If you use the wire-frame, you can't water it. If you put it in a bucket, it falls over. Pointless.

Christmas Trees are an ancient Pagan celebration and are inherently un-Christian and yet every year, Bible-Bashing Catholics set them up proudly and pompously.

Christmas Songs

Granted, this one is a bit of a no-brainer, but Christmas Songs; each and every God-damn one of them, are vacuous, tortuous spells of pure evil and commercialism and I cannot stand any of them. Maybe Bing Crosby really was dreaming of a White Christmas and I'm willing to accept that on some level, Mariah Carey probably was writing her ballad for someone...but can you honestly tell me that Slade, The Darkness, Paul McCartney, Cliff "Why Won't Someone just Shoot Me, Already?" Richard or the 270 billion artists who have covered "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" care about anything other than the guaranteed extra-zeroes that are going to appear at the end of their bank balances, every year? Not to mention the damn things are played earlier and earlier every fucking year. In About a Boy (which is, by and large, my favourite film ever) Hugh Grant complains that "November the sodding 19th" was a new record for him to first hear his father's Christmas song.

This year, at work, I was sick to the back of my bottom teeth of hearing "It's Christmas Time Again," by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers on November the 11th. November the 11th!


Christmas Shopping

Everyone goes on about how 'Christmas is a time for giving'. Why? Shouldn't we just be giving all the time? Shouldn't we give based on a real, honest desire to treat someone rather than just to fulfill some stupid tradition?

I can honestly say that if someone bought me a Yorkie because it's 2-for-€1 in Spar and they remembered that I like Yorkies, I would be happier and more appreciative of this simple gesture than someone buying me a €20 voucher for HMV, simply because they had to get me something (not that I don't fucking love getting vouchers for HMV; the best and most guilt-free way to spend money on DVDs you don't need).

Not to mention the fact that Christmas shopping eats up money like an obese child in a chocolate factory. Can anyone honestly tell me they get a wonderful rush of happiness watching saddened, stressed people rushing hurriedly around Dundrum Town Centre, trying to find something, anything, with barely any money, because they have to? It's such a load of silly.

This also brings up the point of "Giving". Everyone has it in their mind that they should be extra charitable at Christmas time. So much so, that they focus all of their charity on Christmas and feck off, the rest of the year. Last year, I was supposed to work at a soup kitchen on Christmas day, but I was told not to, because there was so many people helping that the help practically outweighed the poor people availing of it. The sad fact is that people weren't nearly as enthusiastic throughout the rest of the year. The homeless and the hungry don't just feel the cold at Christmas.


Exams/Assignments

No-brainer time. Anyone who enjoys the run up to Christmas must be some sort of study-fiend with super-memory and tablets that stop you from writing blog-entries instead of writing Media Law essays (ahem).


My Birthday

Granted I'm not the unluckiest person I know in this regard, but my birthday is awfully close to Christmas, which means that no one is bothered (or available) to do anything, because they're so busy, so broke or so tired from all of the other Christmas-related parties they've attended already. Birthdays should really be closed-off, self-contained affairs.

Sharing them with Jesus isn't any fun.


The Actual Day

I mentioned my own immediate family earlier and how our general tendency not to function as a whole is particularly evident on Christmas Day. It starts out of my mother and with the inevitable chore of the excited duo of my mother and my youngest brother getting everyone out of bed to open presents (getting my father and my second youngest brother to get out of bed to do anything is akin to stabbing yourself in the eye with an active chainsaw). Naturally, there is some initial curious lightheartedness as we examine 'the haul'. At that point, my brothers and I consume the various sugary treats buried among the other treasures and it all goes downhill from there. Poor diets and dwindling energy levels lead to hostility and chaos.



All I want for Christmas is for it to end quickly, so I can relax and start looking forward to New Year's Eve (aka, the coolest holiday ever besides Halloween).