A Problematic Scheduling Conundrum

To Do ListUh Oh.  Huston, we have a problem.  Ok, I may be over exaggerating on this and I do admit that in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t really a problem, but lets put aside the real issues in our current world and escape into a parallel world for a few minutes, shall we?

I am at a cross-roads, of sorts, when it comes to my “free time” and how best to spend it.  To clarify, its not whether I should do, say, yard work vs. gaming.  No no, my issue is much deeper than that:

I have too many options and not enough time.

This may seem like a nerd’s dream but alas, its a nightmare of epic proportions!  My free time consists of about 2-2.5 hours on weeknights, after my kids are asleep.  Starting this week, two of those nights are down to about 1-1.5 hours as the kids have soccer.  So my time is limited.  My problem is, I have a bunch of TV shows, Movies, Comics and Games that I want to delve into and how do I do that with my aforementioned limited time? Lets face it, its not really feasible to break up a 2-hour chunk of time to do two of those things.  Now, I could watch two different shows (if they’re an hour each), but what if I want to watch the following episode of the first show?

Currently, I have immersed my self with my PS4 and playing Doom and GTA5.  Both of these are new games to me and I have only gotten about 25% of the way through Doom and played 0.98% of GTA5.  On top of that, I want to watch the 2nd half of The Getdown (just read the show was cancelled by Netlfix today), the 2nd season of Master of None, the new seasons of House of Cards and Bloodline, the last 8 episodes of this seasons Arrow, the…you know what?  Forget it.  Lets just agree that there are too many shows.

Oh wait, one more…I want to re-watch all the Game of Thrones seasons before season 7 drops in July.  I may have to end up settling for season 6, I don’t know.  Speaking of GoT, did you catch that amazing new trailer for season 7?  Fuck, I cannot wait for this season.

WWOk, so we’ve established that I have more television shows/episodes to watch than there are days this year.  Lets not forget the movies that I want to watch, including those that are in theatres or coming soon (I’m looking at you, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man).

And finally…my comics.  I have been reading a lot of comic books lately and I cannot get enough of these amazing, wonderful stories. If you haven’t, pick up the mini-series The Vision and Identity Crisis. Both of these are phenomenal.  On top of that are the weekly issues I read….Vision Tab

Ugh.  Its all too much, isn’t it? And its such a stupid fucking thing to complain about but I figure I cant be the only one who is having this….this scheduling problem. I want to do it all but I cant!  I just don’t have the time and I don’t want to sacrifice anything.

What I imagine will happen is, time will get the best of me.  The summer months are coming and with it are the later evenings spent chatting with the neighbours, drinking by the pool and some of these activities will be relegated to being “fall and winter activities”.  It’ll likely end up being the TV shows, to be honest.  Sure, I wont be able to game as much.  I will try to make time to watch a movie here and there at home and I will always make the time to go to the theatre to see the big movies.

Regardless, that’s where I currently stand.  Tonight I will have 2-2.5 hours of “free time” and I have to make a decision on how best to spend that time.  And I really have no idea what to choose.  This is truly a problematic scheduling conundrum.

 

Second Opinions

Recently I wrote about how I had watched a shit-ton of Netflix while I was sick.  I ended up re-watching two movies that I hadn’t seen in some time – Captain America: The First Avenger and Interstellar.

CAFAI watched both of these at the theatre and enjoyed them. One, was hailed as a great movie.  The other…not so much.   You know what?  Lets just get to it…I have a confession to make.  I did not like Captain America as much as everyone else.  In fact, I was quite convinced that it was the weakest of the MCU movies and felt that way up until a couple weeks ago.  And I had gone to war with people on this, arguing my point.  Don’t I look like a fool now.

I remember leaving the theatre after watching Captain America and my friends were saying how cool it was; how much fun they had; how it was the best movie of the MCU and maybe EVER.  Gimme a break, I thought.   To me, the 90-second Avengers movie tease at the end was far more exciting than the whole of Captain America.  I just didn’t like it.  I thought it was boring and I really didn’t care.  When I got home afterwards and in the days following, I went online to see if anyone shared my opinion. And for the most part, no one did.  And those that may have thought the same as I?  I didn’t feel using some of those internet trolls as a good point of reference to bolster my side.

When the movie came out on home video (I realize that’s an out-dated term, but its my blog, right?) I picked the movie up for two reasons: 1) I am a completionist and wanted it in my MCU catalogue and 2) maybe I was wrong?

I fired the movie up, sat back on my comfy couch, prepared to enjoy this movie like everyone else and…I fell asleep.  This wasn’t a good sign.  I ended up trying again and when I finally made it through the whole movie, I had the same feeling as I did when I saw it months earlier in the theatre.  For whatever reason, I just didn’t enjoy the movie.  I did watch it again a year or so later but more as background noise than anything.  I didn’t care to revisit The First Avenger.

When the sequel The Winter Soldier came out, I went bananas for that movie. I hold that movie in high regard not just as a good comic book movie, but as a good movie overall.  And while I really liked Civil War, I prefer The Winter Soldier, but just by a bit.  I was convinced that The First Avenger was the bastard child of not only the trilogy, but of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Until a couple weeks ago.

CAFA2

I had mentioned in that previous post that one of the reasons I watched so much Netflix is that I couldn’t sleep. So…again, this wont be a popular statement but…I chose to put on Captain America: The First Avenger with the hopes that it would make me sleepy and tired and pass out.  But instead, not only did I stay awake, I was wide awake.  Holy shit, this is an awesome movie!  What the hell was I thinking about before??  I finally started to understand why people showed so much love to this movie.

I decided to watch it again after I was feeling better, just to ensure that I wasn’t having some delusional trip through the sickness void.  And I’m glad I did because it just reaffirmed that I really, really liked The First Avenger.  And yes, its not perfect and its not the best movie ever, but damn if it isn’t in the top…seven (?) of the MCU movies. Its good. I wish I could pinpoint what changed for me, but I cant.  It was just a feeling I had when I first saw it, an opinion, that I no longer shared.

I’m not sure I can draft a decent segue to discuss Interstellar so…interstellar

I saw Interstellar with a co-worker when it came out and we both enjoyed it but at just-shy of 3-hours, in an uncomfortable movie theatre chair…you can only like a movie so much.  I remember walking out and talking about it and enjoying it more than my co-worker but when he asked why…I had no answer.  I just knew I enjoyed it but as for why…I couldn’t articulate it.

I had wanted to re-watch it but life got in the way and it wasn’t until close to nine days ago that I watched it again for the second time.  And wow. I was blown away with how much I enjoyed it on that second viewing.  I still am likely unable to properly articulate why I like it so much but I think its just a smart movie.  I don’t care about the science of it and whether its ‘good’ science or ‘bad’ science.  I don’t care about how realistic it is or how plausible.

I like what each actor brought to the role.  I like the AI robots and how smart, yet simplistic, their designs are.  I really, really like the music and score done by Hans Zimmer.  The special effects won an Oscar…and I can totally get behind that!   And the story is good:  Earth is becoming uninhabitable and Matthew McConaughey, a former NASA pilot, leads a group of astronauts to find a new planet for humans to live on.  Ok, that’s a really oversimplification of the plot.  You know what?  Just watch it.   Trust me.

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As with all movies, there are those who like it and those who don’t.  For me, a quasi-cinephile, its rare that I would like a movie substantially more on its second viewing, but with Interstellar, I did.  I recently told a friend about how much I enjoyed it and he looked at me like I was losing my brain.  And shit, maybe I am.

But I’ll keep watching Captain America: The First Avenger and Interstellar over and over again and telling everyone who’ll listen why both of these movies were, to me, way better upon second viewing than the first time.  And maybe, if either of those movies didn’t do it for you when you first saw them, you should watch them again.  You may be really, and pleasantly, surprised.

 

Netflix and….Cough?

I’m alive! Or is this some weird Matrix like trickery?  No, i’m alive.  From April 14th to this past Monday, May 8th I’ve been fighting this weird cold-virus-disease thing.  This was worse than a man-cold, trust me. In fact, I couldn’t go see a doctor due to my poor, weakened state (women all roll eyes at this) so I had a doctor come visit me.  He told me that I may have the start of pneumonia.

So the good doc put me on meds with the hopes of fighting it off.  And since you’re here reading these very words, its safe to say that I survived.  That said, don’t you hate it when you tell people what the doctor has diagnosed you with and they just rip you to shreds?  This actually happened to me while I was dropping my kids off at school one morning, before heading home to bed:

Person:  Hey, how are you?

Me:  Ugh, Sick.  The doc thinks I may have the start of pneumonia if these meds don’t work..

Person:  Trust me, you don’t have pneumonia.  have you ever had it before? No? I have. You don’t have pneumonia.  There are two kinds of pneumonia, viral and bacterial.  If you have viral you would be in the hospital.  I was.  Its horrible. You don’t have that…

Me:  Oh, yeah I don’t think…

Person:  …or there’s bacterial pneumonia and if you had that, you wouldn’t be walking around so I don’t think you have that.  I’ve had that.  You don’t that.  Maybe you just have a bad cough.

Me: Yeah, maybe.  Ok, well, thanks.  See you tomorrow.

Person: Yup, see ya.

Its those times that I wish I had a massive cough and just did away with conventional etiquette and coughed in their face and gave them whatever ailment I had.  But alas, I refrained and went home to bed.  While sick, I watched a fair amount of TV.  It was funny, usually when you’re sick, you sleep all day.  I couldn’t.  I just could not get any sleep.  So I spent my time watching Netflix. Lots and lots of Netflix.  I took some screenshots and X’d out the ones that were either a) watched when I wasn’t sick or b) watched by my kids.  I think you’ll be able to discern which follows under which category.

sick-netflix-1.jpg

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Ok so listen, apologies for the ridiculous pics.  Maybe in my head the execution was better.  But regardless, this is what I watched, in order:

Five Came Back (all episodes); Lone Survivor; Silicon Cowboys; Dave Chappelle (first special); De Plama; Star Trek Beyond; Mechanic: Resurrection: Love (all of season 2); West Coast Customs (all of season 2…ugh); Entourage Movie; Suits (all of season 5); The Fear of 13; Better Call Saul (all of season 2); Captain America: The First Avenger; The Fifth Element;  Bill Nye Saves The World (only first 5 episodes); Interstellar; Ascension (episode 2).

Phew.  That’s a lot of Netflix.  Here’s where I realized I needed to be concerned. I’m not a car guy.  So why the hell was I watching West Coast Customs?  And why did I watch all 16 episodes?!?  I don’t deny that the guys are talented and the cars looked kinda cool, but how did I spend 7-hours and 20-minutes on this show???  I have no answers.  Frankly, I’m afraid of what the answer could be.  So I will accept what happened and move on.

The rest of the lot that I watched…some good.  I like Suits. I liked Star Trek. I quite enjoy Better Call Saul.  But then you get The Mechanic: Resurrection and that’s a pant load of a movie. The documentary Silicon Cowboys is not about fake boobs – as an FYI – and its an ok doc.  But The Fear of 13 is far more superior and I would recommend watching that.  Or De Palma, especially if you’re a fan of cinema.

The reality is this: despite watching some questionable content, thank the stars that we have Netflix. Because in the days before Netflix, you would be stuck with ridiculous talk shows, courtroom shows (Peoples Court, Judge Judy) and infomercials.

So, if anything, Netflix has saved us from the ridiculous and mundane. Now, if it can only save us from conversations with know-it-all asshats…

 

Daredevil. Netflix. Love.

Daredevil-TV.1

I don’t know if its because I recently read the TPB Daredevil: Born Again or if its because I was so pissed off with the Iron Fist TV series, but I’ve started to re-watch Daredevil on Netflix.  This will be my 3rd-go-round with Season 1 and, once done, I will dive back into Season 2 for the first time since I initially saw it a year ago.

I remember being totally enamored with Season 1.  Admittedly, I know that some of the source material of Season 1 was pulled from The Man Without Fear storyline written by Frank Miller and drawn by John Romita Jr., but I never read the books so I went in to the show with virgin eyes.

I was blown away by a lot of what the show was able to do or, more aptly, get away with.  I had no clue that Marvel would have allowed the show-runners to take that property and make is so…well, violent.  I honestly assumed that Marvel would want to protect its identity as family-friendly given that their movies were between PG-and-PG13.  But the Netflix show holds nothing back and it plays out exactly how it should.  I mean, that hallway fight in episode 2 is out of this world.

I remember getting antsy towards the end as I wanted to see how they were going to do the suit, and while its not a giant red unitard….hey, at least its not a giant red unitard!

Daredevil-TV.2Overall I was really happy with the show and I felt that it was a great accompaniment to the movies in the MCU.   I don’t believe that Daredevil would work as a movie (hello, Ben Affleck) as well as it did as a TV series.  It was grounded in the streets of Hell’s Kitchen.  Some of the best TV series are at street level (The Wire and those first 10 seasons of Law & Order), eschewing the fantastical.  Daredevil brings you down to its level so much, you can almost feel the pain of every punch thrown.

Season 2 came out in March 2016 and just like Season 1, I ate it all up in a weekend.  How do you expand on the rawness of the first season?  Well, you can introduce The Punisher, that’s how.  I remember when Marvel & Netflix announced that The Punisher would be part of Season 2, the geek collective’s brains exploded.  Yes, we have two (Ok, fine…three) Punisher movies to watch but this version of Frank Castle was the best of the three.

And remember that hallway scene in episode 2 of the first season?  Yeah, and remember how I said I was shocked that Marvel would let the show-runners get away with the violence in the show? Ok, so lets ratchet that up 100 times greater and you’ve got episode 9.  I am telling you, this may be the most bloodiest thing that has been filmed for TV and I loved every splattery moment of it.

Daredevil-TV.3

Finally, to round it out, they introduce Electra to the series and I couldn’t be happier (sorry, Jennifer Garner).  Listen, the reality is if you’re reading this blog, you likely are a fan of comics or comic book movies/TV shows and have probably watched both seasons of Daredevil.  There is nothing that I am going to say that you don’t already know.

But what I appreciate most about what these shows have done is, you don’t have to be a comic book fan to appreciate and love the shows.  I am not a big fantasy book reader, or really, at all, but I can’t get enough of Game of Thrones! A good TV show will take its sourced-from genre and make it compelling to those who are unfamiliar and also make it appealing to those who are.

Daredevil, both seasons, nails it.  Hard.

And again, I will never tire of saying this – we are getting to see our comic book heroes come to life!  This is a crazy time for comic book fans, wherein our wildest dreams are being realized.  But also, its just damn fine TV.

Uncharted 4: Am I Bored?

Uncharted 4

I’ve previously written about how much I love my PS4 and that gaming at 40 (almost 41) is a wonderful experience. When I got my PS4 for my 40th last year, I was determined to buy the Uncharted Series because I had heard so many great things about it.  In the summer, I saw it was on sale for about $30 for 3 games.  That, my friends, is the Monty Hall of deals.  Sold!

I played the three Uncharted games back-to-back-to-back and loved them, with each game improving in quality than its predecessor.  I couldn’t believe how much fun these games were! Of course, in April 2016 the final entry in the series, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was released. I have an issue paying full price for a game (about $70-$80 in Canada) and that issue is my wife.  So, really, she has the issue and I personally enjoy the ability to breath without the assistance of a ventilator so…we’ve decided that I wont buy games at full price.

So when the holidays rolled around and it was on sale, I grabbed a copy of Uncharted 4 along with some other titles (including the outstanding Titanfall 2!). I started playing Uncharted in early February, expecting that I would be hooked, addicted…and….and I’m not.  I mean, the game is good.  Its damn, damn good.  And when I do play it, I really enjoy it but I havent had the hook to fire it up each night like I did when I played Titanfall 2 or The Last of Us (listen to me: play this game.  Play it!).

So, what does it all mean?  Does it mean anything at all?  Likely not.  But maybe.  Shit, I don’t know.  All I do know is that I really enjoy playing the game when I am playing, but I haven’t fired it up in about 3 weeks and the thought of doing so last night, tonight or even tomorrow night sounds more like work than fun.

Uncharted 4.2The game is gorgeous.  The gameplay is great.  This game has been given 9/10 and 10/10 scores on numerous gaming sites.  I get it.  Its good.  But something….something isnt hooking me to want to go play it again.  Selfishly…I somewhat thought that by writing this would give me the urge to ditch the family and fire up the adventures of Nathan Drake.

But instead, I kinda want go go back to continuing my third trip down Neflix’s Daredevil (season 1).  Now for that, I am a total junkie.

 

Power Rangers.

Power Rangers LogoMy son is 8 and discovered Power Rangers on Netflix a few years ago and fell in love with it. He watched almost every episode of the series that are on Netlflix, except – strangely enough – the original series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (MMPR).  I tried to get him to watch it but he thought it was weird looking.

Huh? Compared to the Dino Thunder series? And what the hell is the Mystic Force series?  What is happening??  But I digress…

When the MMPR dropped on TV audiences in 1993, I was working at Rogers Video (Canada’s sorta-answer to Blockbuster) and vividly remember the phenomenon that was the Power Rangers, exploding onto the lexicon.  The video store carried baseball cards of the characters and posters, selling them to kids and adults alike.  The show was so weird, but it was also weirdly entertaining because, anyone like me who grew up in the 80’s, immediately thought of Voltron.

And we derided MMPR as being a piece of shit Voltron ripoff and yet we all watched it because, ironically, it was a live-action Voltron and it was geek-tastic!  Nerds…we’re never happy.

I remember going to the theatre in 1995 to see the movie but soon realized that the show had most definitely jumped the shark, for me at least, and I was done.  I never thought about the Power Rangers again until, some 18 years later when my son started to watch all the shows on Netflix. I watched a few with him but soon found myself wishing for death by any means…a bullet, asphyxiation, blunt force trauma.  I didn’t care, I just couldn’t handle this stupidity that the later series of Power Rangers had become.

Then last year I heard that a new movie was coming out.  Ugh.  But then I head it was a reboot and as much as I think that reboots are overdone and uncalled for most times (hello, thrice-rebooted in 13 years Spider-Man!), I had to agree that a reboot of the Power Rangers was needed, especially as there are 20-something versions of Power Rangers.  No shit…check it out.

I wasn’t overly hopeful that this reboot would be any good.  I mean, I really thought it was going to be a crapfest and I was dreading the inevitable grovelling of my son to take him to see it.  But then something weird happened – he still begged and grovelled, mind you – I actually enjoyed it.  And I mean, I really enjoyed it.  Holy shit.

Power RangersI know the film has gotten mixed reviews and there are some legitimate complaints about the movie taking too long for any real action to happen but you know what?  I don’t care.  I didn’t care about that one bit.  The movie clocks in at just over two hours and it flew by.  And as I sit and write this, I still cannot believe how much I enjoyed this film.  But then I remember the reasons why – the messages that are strung throughout are really, really empowering and smart.

One of the characters is gay, but shes not playing up every stereotype you can think of.  Instead, she describes what its like to be the “different” member of her family; a perfect family that all fit into a certain mold and she doesn’t.  She refuses to conform to her parents’ ideals and she feels like an outcast but knows that she needs to be who she is – to be true to herself.

Another character is autistic.  In fact, this is spoken about within the first 10 minutes of the movie when he tells another character that he’s on the spectrum and then describes that his brain sees and understands things slightly differently; however, there isn’t anything wrong with him but he asks and expects that people will understand and be patient with him.

Both of these characters become two of our 5-member teamed heroes and it showed that anyone, no matter their race, gender, sexuality or differences could be a hero.  And then on top of that?  They cant work as a team and become the heroes, the Power Rangers, until they truly understand what friendship is, that acceptance is not needed but required.

Honestly, I will outright admit that I am not sure if these messages hit home to me because I am a father vs. a non-parent.  Would I still have enjoyed the movie if I didn’t view it through the eyes of my son and think of what the narrative is saying to him?  I don’t know.  I really don’t.  But what I do know is that his legs were shaking the last 30 minutes out of sheer excitement (and not, like I had thought, because he had to take a leak).

I really enjoyed Power Rangers. I know that its not for everyone and maybe I am a small minority. But it was fun and above that, it had great messages for kids.  And I think that in today’s world of online bullying and undeserved anger and emotional outbursts…I think a good moral message, while kicking Rita Repulsa’s ass, is more than ok.

 

Read This: Daredevil: Born Again

DD Born Again 1.5

Recently I discussed how much I had been enjoying reading the collected editions of 100 Bullets.  A couple weekends ago, I picked up two trade paperback/collected editions of comics I had always heard about but never read.

DD Born Again 2Daredevil: Born Again was originally published in 1986, written by comics legend Frank Miller and drawn by David Mazzuccelli, spanning Daredevil issues #227-#231. For those who are unfamiliar with the character of Daredevil – and that should be few of you given the amazing Netflix series –  he is Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer-by-day and an acrobatic vigilante by night.

Wow, that really simplifies who Daredevil is.  Shit. Ok, don’t pay attention to my inability to give a proper summary of Daredevil, but trust me when I say he’s a pretty cool character who has had some amazing stories written.

In Born Again, Daredevil’s ex-girlfriend, who is now a heroin junkie (typical, right?), has no more cash for her next fix so she sells the one thing she knows will get her lots of coin – the identity of Daredevil.  This is then passed onto the Kingpin, DD’s arch nemesis, who uses this newly acquired information to destroy our hero but not in a way you would expect.

Instead of going after loved ones or publicly outing him, the Kingpin instead destroys Daredevil by attacking Matt Murdock’s life. He discredits him as a lawyer, as a person.  He freezes Matt’s bank accounts and he loses his licence to practice law.  He takes away every ability to live his life, removing friends and co-workers and even destroying Matt’s home.  He is literally left with nothing.  And its brilliant.  Absolutely brilliant.

I was really taken aback at how much I loved this story.  I read some Daredevil comics when I was younger but I think a lot of the really good stories just went over my head as a kid.  Reading Born Again last week, I can appreciate that the subject material is better served to an adult than to a 10-year old kid.

I’ll leave you with this, which contains a sentence that completely rocked me when I read it.  Enjoy!

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