Pass the Popcorn

I’m gonna write about something positive because…well…I need something positive in my life right now.

On Facebook the other night, I opined that I missed the era of appointment television. This was back in the glory days when 24, The Sopranos, Deadwood and Breaking Bad all reigned supreme. I miss the anticipation of a new episode, new plot developments and new water cooler buzz the next day after Tony would whack someone, or Jack Bauer would torture another Muslim terrorist.

That said, 2019 is an exciting year for those of us who have the recent TV nostalgia bug. Three movies are due out this year that serve as codas to previous TV giants.

The first one is a series that I already touched upon last October. Deadwood was a show that was canceled before its time. On Friday, May 31, HBO will correct that grave injustice by running Deadwood: The Movie. We’ll get to see Al Swearengen and all of the gang of Deadwood one last time before they ride off into the sunset. I’ve already shared my thoughts and hopes for the upcoming movie, but of the three, this is the one for which I’m most excited. It’s probably because fans have been waiting years for this thing to drop.

The second one excites me, though not to the degree of the Deadwood epic. David Chase is filming a prequel to The Sopranos called, The Many Saints of Newark. No, guys, it won’t explain the great black screen of doom that still frustrates many Sopranos fans. Rather, it will focus on a young Tony Soprano in the late ‘60’s when the Italians were embroiled in racial hostility with African-Americans. The interesting thing about this movie is that James Gandolfini’s son Michael is set to play young Tony. We’ll see how that goes. The thing that gives me pause is that I think David Chase is going to fuck up the timeline. I just re-watched the entire series of The Sopranos and it was stated more than once that Tony Soprano was born in 1960. At one point, Carmela tells a reporter that Tony was three when JFK was assassinated. So by the time Tony was 15, Nixon would already have been impeached. I don’t know how chase is going to reconcile this obvious continuity error. Still, I’ll go see the movie and hopefully will enjoy it.

The third movie is the one you would think I would be most excited about, but I am the least excited. Earlier this year, Vince Gilligan announced that we are going to get a Breaking Bad movie. Publicists are still playing it coy, but everyone knows that the movie will star Aaron Paul reprising his role as doomed Jesse Pinkman. When we last saw Jesse, Walt had freed him from captivity from Todd and Uncle Jack and Jesse drove off laughing crazily as Walt died in his meth lab over the strains of, “Baby Blue.”

My problem is that this served as the perfect ending to Breaking Bad. Walt died, Jesse was free but scarred for life and Walt’s family may or may not have been able to live in comfort thanks to his efforts on their behalf. Those unanswered questions are part of what makes the finale so good. Not everything had to be wrapped up with a pretty bow on top.

Whereas Deadwood feels completely necessary and welcome and the Sopranos prequel may or may not work, but can’t hurt anything, the Breaking Bad movie feels superfluous. Sure, Jesse was a compelling character, but without the presence of Bryan Cranston as Walt off whom Jesse used to play so wonderfully, the story will feel hollow. Yes, I may be selling Vince Gilligan short, but he gave us Better Call Saul and, for me, the results are mixed. Maybe Breaking Bad is that lightning that only strikes once. Yet, if possible, I will be in the theater on opening night, popcorn and Peanut Butter M & M’s in hand as the credits roll.

Even if all three wrap-up movies suck, it will be a pleasure to have something to look forward to that doesn’t involve a super hero, a transforming car or a talking CGI animal. I’ll take it, and pass the fuckin’ popcorn. If you don’t have any hot butter, I’ll settle for canned peaches. What about baked xiti?

Song of Myself

Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I
know it.

I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash’d babe,
and am not contain’d between my hat and boots,
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good,
The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.

I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and
fathomless as myself,
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)

Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female,
For me those that have been boys and that love women,
For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be
slighted,
For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the
mothers of mothers,
For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears,
For me children and the begetters of children.

Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded,
I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no,
And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be
shaken away.

Walt Whitman: “”Song of Myself”

Do Androids Dream of the Boys Locker Room?

I am not going to waste precious space in this blog writing about Solo: A Star Wars Story. The movie blew bigger chunks than you would find in an asteroid field. If I wouldn’t have been bored last Sunday, I would’ve saved my money.

However, there was one point I need to address. I am frankly sick of the idea propagated in science fiction that androids possess sentience.

In Solo, a young Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) has an android co-pilot named L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge.) It doesn’t take five seconds after we meet L3-37 to learn that she is an android who is on a quest; the great and universal trek for equal rights. It is not atypical for modern Star Wars to insert concepts favorable to social justice in their scripts, but even by modern standards, the character is written in a very heavy-handed fashion. She is, in effect, the Dobby of the script without the charm.

Even though Lando seems to resist the idea that droids are worthy of equal rights, we discover that he implicitly validates the idea of her sentience when we see that he is (“gasp!”) attracted to her. The ironic parallel is obvious and ham-handed; the black character attracted to a machine he views as property, just as, a long time ahead in a galaxy far, far away, white slave owners were attracted to and bedded down people whom they did not, in fact, view as people at all.

How could any reasonable viewer of Solo come to any other conclusion but that droids are, of course, sentient and therefore, do deserve equal rights. L3-37’s cause is just, which makes her death all the more poignant when it inevitably comes.

The writers had fertile ground in which to plant this particular seed. After all, the viewers on whom they tried (and largely failed) to conduct financial extractions mostly haled from a generation that grew up with C-3PO and R2-D2, two humanistic droids who, more than once, saved the Star Wars universe. 3PO was a droid who never met a neurosis he didn’t like. R2-D2 didn’t communicate in spoken language, but his series of beeps and chirps and his diminutive cuteness, made him function more as a hyper intelligent animal, if not a human.

Then, 32 years later came R2-D2 2.0, aka BB-8, courtesy of The Force Awakens. One year after that, we met K-2SO in Rogue One. Now there was a droid who really brought the tude. He might have been the poster droid for the quest for equal rights if he were not already fighting in another rebellion with some actual teeth.

Of course, one might argue that the writers don’t actually think that droids are sentient, but rather, they are using L3-37 as a metaphor for real humans here on Earth. Duh! That trope has been played by sci-fi writers for generations. Nothing pioneering in that.

Ah, but if you want a franchise that takes the concept of android sentience more seriously, you need look no further than Star Trek: The Next Generation, embodied in the character of Lieutenant Commander Data.

Any fan of TNG should know where I’m headed before I get there. Season two, episode nine. Title, “The Measure of a Man.”

Picard and company are docked at an outlying starbase that houses a newly-installed JAG officer. About eight minutes into the episode, a guy named Bruce Maddox shows up and orders Data to report to Starfleet so that he can be taken apart and studied for further cybernetic research and experimentation. Data refuses. Maddox hands him transfer orders backing him up. Data resigns. Maddox says, “You can’t resign. You are a machine. Therefore, you are the property of Starfleet Command and thus, you have no rights.” Picard, of course, legally challenges Maddox, leading to a climactic courtroom battle that would make Perry Mason bow in awe.

But wait! There’s a twist! The JAG orders Number One to be the prosecutor, even though he is a close friend of Data’s and doesn’t believe that Data is not sentient. “Tough titty, said the android kitty,” says the judge, and we’re off to court.

Commander Riker presents his case first and calls only one witness, Data himself. He orders Data to take off his hand, which Data does. Then, Riker deactivates him by flipping his off switch.

At that moment, Riker has won the argument. The judge rules in Maddox’s favor, Data gets carted off to some dusty lab at Starfleet Command and Lore takes over as the second officer on the Enterprise. His first action… To disembowel Worf.

That was in the Kelvin timeline. In the prime timeline, Picard is unnerved by Riker’s compelling case. Then, Whoopi Goldberg shows up for her one token scene in the episode. They get to talking about how history is rife with cultures who have written off other cultures as less than human, thereby making them… Disposable people.

This, my friends, is the emotional money shot of the episode. Maddox is the villain, and he’s a villain because he wants to replicate Data, thereby creating an entire race of Datas who will serve man. But Data is sentient, so that would mean that Starfleet Command is creating slaves and, just like Lando Calrissian, they are sanctioning slavery.

Picard runs with it! Now, we’re back in court. Picard cross examines Data, and we are reminded that the android fulfilled a fantasy that many teenage boys could only dream about. He bagged Tasha Yar.

Then, Picard calls Maddox. He asks Maddox to define sentience. Maddox clumsily answers that sentience contains three components; intelligence, self-awareness and consciousness. Picard quickly dismantles the first argument, and no pimply-faced fan with his or her hand deep in the Cheeto bag would disagree. Data is way beyond intelligent.

Picard then turns to argument number two, asking Data to recite his current predicament in order to illustrate his self-awareness. Data complies. This is a little flimsy, but we’ll let it go.

And then… And then… Maddox starts to become unsure. Picard pounces. “Data meets two of your criteria. What if he meets the third? I don’t know what he is. Do you? Do you!?”

Silence.

Finally, the judge rules in Data’s favor, even though she admits that no one really proved their case. Her final verdict is, “I don’t know, but we’re going to defer in Data’s favor just in case he happens to be alive. Besides, we need to keep Brent Spiner around until he wins an Emmy.”

The story is over, except that Picard goes off to get nekkid with the judge, which is a task that usually falls to Riker, except that Picard has a bad history with this lady and the tension has been building all episode. Besides, Picard hasn’t been laid since… Never. And Riker is too busy hanging his head in shame even to take Deanna Troi for a loser’s lap. Data comes in and lets him off the emotional hook. “You were a splendid example of self-sacrifice, sir,” is basically what he says. Then he follows it up with, “I do not resent you, Commander. After all, resentment is a human feeling. As the audience no doubt knows, I cannot feel, because feeling connotes sentience, and I am not sentient.”

He doesn’t actually say that last part, but once these pimply-faced fans go wipe off the Twinkie crumbs and spend about 30 more years in the real world, they figure out that the writers deliberately stacked the deck against Riker. Yes, Riker won the legal battle, but in the 24th century, just as in the 21st, emotion trumps logic.

But who cares, right? Data, after all, is played by Brent Spiner, a very talented actor who is a human being, just as Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker and Alan Tudyk are all human beings. Just as Disney likes to anthropomorphize animals in order that kids grow up to adopt an anti-hunting, pro-environmentalist sentiment by thinking of Bambi as a human being, sci-fi writers want a new legion of budding social justice warriors to think of the brave L3-37, or Data, every time a kid questions whether he is a boy or a girl, or a parent wants to take their son into the girl’s bathroom, or someone at work demands to be called Rachel instead of Tony.

Just as Picard stops short of pushing forward with his argument because he likely could not demonstrate that Data does not, in fact, possess consciousness, the new woke Star Wars crowd should not bother to ask certain critical questions. Your honor, isn’t it true that computers can only do what their programmers tell them? Your honor, if you flip off Data’s switch, couldn’t you flip it back on again in 20 years, just as Data did with his brother Lore? But why can’t you do that with Bernie Sanders? Your honor, if I see a penis on a boy, but he says he’s a girl, wouldn’t a little healthy skepticism be in order?

And the answer comes back like a hyper echo. “Fuck off, bigot!!!”

Ok, friends. I can’t resist. Real quick, here are five reasons why Solo blew big asteroid field chunks.

5. As previously stated, L3-37.

4. The movie should have been a buddy adventure featuring Han and Lando, rather than a romantic adventure featuring Han and Q’ira. Yeah… I know. Strong female movie characters, yada yada yada.

3. It was doomed from the start. No actor could possibly succeed Harrison Ford. That aside, Han was the ultimate alfa male. Alden Ehrenreich’s Han Solo seemed like a wiseass college kid who acts oppressed, but secretly gets a pedicure three times a week.

2. Darth Maul appears in the movie. Ok, think about that for a second, then think about the timeline of the prequels. Does Star Wars have a Kelvin timeline, too?

1. The writers eviscerated the spirit of the Han Solo character. Han’s backstory was boring. The Han Solo we met in the original Star Wars was a self-centered, greedy, cynical, cheeky anti-hero who was ultimately redeemed. This guy was a straight-up hero whom the writers contorted to fit a mold. In other words, modern Han would not have shot Greedo first… Unless Greedo was a Trump supporter, of course.

Now that I got all of that off my chest, I’m gonna go watch Star Trek TNG, Season three, episode 16, “The Offspring.” Damn! I still get a lump in my throat every time Data’s daughter dies.

Qapla!

I tell ya what… I’m gonna say this with love and respect to Potter fans everywhere, especially Katya. There’s a reason why the Potter universe will always be inferior to the Star Trek universe. The reason is simple, and it can be boiled down to one word. Klingons.

There are no Klingons in the world of Hogwarts. You have werewolves and headless ghosts and Death Eaters and giants and centaurs and Dementors and hippogriffs and elves and dragons and goblins and wizards and all that, but no Klingons anywhere.

I’ve been making my way through Deep Space Nine, and it’s not a coincidence that the show went from good to great when Worf came on board. Because in Worf’s first episode, the Klingons get pissed at the Federation and invade the station. And you know what… Even though they ultimately stand down, they put up one hell of a kick-ass fight. Gone is the nerd dialogue and overtures to peace. All you get is a bunch of roaring, grunting Klingons marauding their way through the station.

And then there’s that episode where Worf is a prisoner of the Dominion and takes out about 25 Jem’Hadar soldiers before they finally get the point. He’s like, “Let me rest for 30 seconds and sip my prune juice, then we’re back at it, bitches! It is a good day to die! Rahhhhhhhhhh!!!”

And as for the Borg, two words: “Assimilate this!”

You know what… I’m convinced that Hagrid was actually a Klingon who somehow got stuck on Earth because of some freak accident in the space-time continuum. Or maybe Q was playing a joke on the magical creatures of the Potter world by making Hagrid forget that he was Klingon. That’s why he was so weepy all the time. I know Klingons don’t have tear ducts, but whatever.

You know what would happen if a Dementor tried to kiss a Klingon? He would breathe on the Klingon, and said Klingon would become offended and deliver a death scream in the Dementor’s hooded face, and the Dementor would be chasing his own ass all the way back to Azkaban. No question. Depression!? Warriors don’t get depressed.

Lest you Potter fans feel picked on, I have to admit that I don’t even think Darth Vader could take a Klingon in a battle. Vader is probably my favorite movie villain of all time, but facts are facts. Vader would throw some Klingon on the ceiling with the force, and the Klingon would kick his way back down to the floor and laugh in Vader’s masked face. Then, Vader would draw his light saber and the Klingon would say something like, “What a pretty toy you’ve got there, but the Sith have no honor,” before he took his bat’leth and decapitated Vader.

How many women are reading this right now and laughing at me. Well, I return your laughter. You criticize me for thinking that Klingons are all that and a bowl of gagh, but how many of you actually think that 50 Shades of Grey is real? You gals need to go out and find yourselves a Klingon male. He’d be perfect for you. He dresses in leather, growls a lot, gives orders and engages in ultra-rough sex. I won’t out some of my female readers by name, but you know who you are and you know I’m right.

I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but I don’t even think Walter ‘Heisenberg’ White could take out a Klingon. He’d try to talk his way out of a confrontation, and… You think Gus’s box cutter was messy? Ok, I admit it… I’m getting pretty far afield here.

I tell you this… I think Klingons exist right here on Earth. But God has his reasons why they can’t appear in their humanoid form. So, God is masquerading them as pit bulls. Think about it. Pit bulls are aggressive and could tear a human apart if given the chance, but really, they’re just misunderstood. They are actually very joyful creatures that just want to have fun. If you give them some raw meat and play with them, they’re all good. That’s exactly how Klingons are.

Now cats… They’re Romulans in disguise. Always sneaky and cunning and you never know when they’re gonna strike. They like to toy with their victims before they deliver the kill. I’d like to pursue this line further, but I need to clean Mags’ litterbox before the caffeine wears off.

By the way, if you disagree with my views, all I can say is, you’re a Patak!

Farewell, GOP

I am writing this with a heavy heart. I have been a proud Republican since 1993, when I registered to vote at age 18. I cast my first presidential vote in 2000, and was proud to cast a second vote for George W. Bush four years later. Backing John McCain was a tougher proposition, but I ultimately did it with the knowledge that the alternative of Barack Obama was far grimmer. It was much easier for me to support Mitt Romney in 2012. I felt (and still feel) that he was a man of impeccable character and a rare politician who lives by the virtues of which he speaks.

I attended my first Republican caucus in March of 2014. I met a lot of nice people and am proud to have known them. In April of 2016, I attended the Republican state convention in Colorado Springs. It was an experience I will always treasure.

When it came to the election of 2016, for the first time in my life, I did not vote for the Republican candidate. Donald Trump was a bridge too far for me. Though I respected the binary view many of my friends and family took when they justified their support by saying, “Hillary’s worse!” I could not share it. After Trump’s upset victory, I considered leaving the Republican Party, but thought I would give them four more years to see how they behaved.

The jury is in. As of this writing, Pearl Harbor Day of 2017, I am relinquishing my membership in the Grand Old Party.

When allegations began to surface against Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election, I was incredulous. Democrats are not above manufacturing charges to sink a candidate. But when I saw the weak-tea defense mounted by Moore, his wife and his surrogates, characterized by an innocuous story, dubious vagaries and half-truths, I came to believe his accusers. Any parent with a modicum of critical thinking skills would ground their kid for a week if he/she told lies of such a poor quality. The charges of, “fake news,” and “Media hit jobs,” against the Washington Post do not hold up. I am well aware of the leftward bias of the Post, but their investigative reporting on Moore’s past was exemplary.

I took heart when Mitch McConnell, Cory Gardner, Ted Cruz and a chorus of other Republican voices called for Moore to step down. I was not a bit surprised when President Trump floundered, then ultimately endorsed Moore. Sadly, I was past surprised when I learned that the Republican National Committee was sending funds to Moore’s campaign in Alabama. It is one thing to support a man who has openly bragged about sexually assaulting women on video tape because he is the president. I respect pragmatism. And it is one thing to pull back from a candidate credibly accused of assaulting under-aged girls and to say, “Let the people decide.” It is quite another to actively financially abet said candidate. Couple the RNC’s opportunistic course correction with the bare fact that the GOP has no legislative accomplishments to speak of since they assumed power in 2017, and the picture is clear.

Enough! I will no longer be a member of a political organization who appears to have surrendered its soul in the name of a win-at-all-cost mentality. History is replete with political figures and movements who have subscribed to this way of thinking and nearly all of them lead to totalitarianism and doom.

I have removed myself from the several GOP Email lists of which I was a member. I will not attend any GOP events, or make any donations to the RNC on the national, state or local level in any future election cycle. I will now judge a candidate specifically on his or her own merits without the influence of a larger political umbrella. When it comes time for me to renew my official ID card in Nebraska, I will register as a conservative, for I still believe in many principles that used to hold sway in the GOP. How tragic that I no longer view the party of Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan as the most effective or tenable apparatus to advance those ideals.

“There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.”
Alexis de Tocqueville

Adendum:

Roy Moore lost. Was it worth it?
12/13/17

The Whopper

I was kind of running on empty this morning due to the beer I drank last night… And then I ate a Whopper.

I’m not gonna lie. The Whopper is probably my favorite fast food burger out there. The Big Mac is vastly overrated. Who wants an extra slice of bread in there!? Wendy’s Baconator is pretty damn good, but it sits in your gut like a lead brick for three days after you surround it. I do enjoy the Super Sonic burger, but until self-driving cars become a reality, I don’t get there very much. Hardy’s (Carl’s Jr. on the left coast) and Jack in the Box were both forgettable when I had them.

So, that leaves us with the Whopper. I put it in my mouth and am treated to a veritable starburst of taste sensations. The chewy sesame seed bun, the smooth, warm melted cheese, the crunch of lettuce, tangy pickles and brisk onions, the sweet, juicy tomato, the flame-broiled meat patty, and finally… The cool chaser of ketchup and mayo.

Who needs Jesus Christ when you can have a Whopper? In fact, at my funeral, don’t worry about my Sunday best. Just place a Whopper under my head and send the coffin downward. Be happy in the knowledge that I am in that great big drive-through in the sky, ordering a Whopper to go while some big-boned beauty is offering to lick the ketchup off my chin. Instead of the blind man in the bleachers, think of the big blind daddy in the Porshe.

Of course, with my luck, my spirit will go the same direction as my coffin. I’ll be in hell, where I’m in an Uber driven by a guy named Ahmed, who clearly has better things to do with his time. If we’re lucky enough to find the Burger King, the speaker will have a short, the lady taking my order won’t speak English, the cook will be a stoner who fixes it on a stale bun and forgets the extra cheese and the mayo, and Ahmed will drive away before I can check the bag to make sure they remembered the fries, which are better at McDonald’s anyway but I wanted them.

DAMN IT!!! I’m getting in a bad mood again thinking about this scenario. But I just burped and tasted that Whopper again. I feel better. Aahhhhh!!!

Of Kings and Fried chicken

Social media is full of people who claim to be physically ill at the prospect of President Trump. I believe that the clinical term for this is, attention-seeking behavior. My sister-in-law will correct me if I’m wrong, I’m sure.

People! Seriously! If real world events are making you physically ill, turn off the friggin’ TV, log off the internet and go breathe some fresh air. Take a walk. Get a nice, long hug from a friend or loved one. Watch Big Bang Theory and make yourself laugh. Whatever. But don’t whine and hand-wring on social media hoping someone will say, “Oh, baby! Are you okay?”

President Trump wasn’t my desired outcome. Neither was President Obama…either time. I played my hand and I lost. I got over it. The day after election, 2012, I sulked in my girlfriend’s bed until 11. Then she kicked my ass into the shower and took me to lunch. By 2 PM, I was over my blue funk. Incidentally, Steuben’s has excellent fried chicken; at least they did four years ago.

I’m not saying elections don’t matter. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be concerned about events larger than ourselves. What I am saying is that we should not allow external events to dictate our own personal happiness and well-being.

And for those of you drama addicts out there, GET THE HELL OVER YOURSELVES!

One final thought. Trump is a president, not a king. If you want a distraction from the relentless inauguration coverage, go refresh yourselves on the Constitution. Learn why we have certain checks and balances in place that will not allow President Trump to do whatever he wants unchecked.

That is all. I’m gonna go distract myself now with a generous helping of BBQ ribs.ocial media

The Rocking Horse People Strike Back

I’m gonna say something that will offend many of you, but I don’t care.

The Beatles are vastly overrated!

Alexa was playing Beatles music at lunch and I casually mentioned that they are overrated. My crazy Wiccan coworker was incensed.

“Those are words that are never used in my house,” she boomed.

Look, I’m sorry if the truth hurts. The Beatles may have been a cultural phenomenon back in their day, but musically, they are mediocre at best.

Seriously. Their harmonies aren’t that tight. John can barely sing. Paul was a little better, but only a little. Ringo was a boring, unimaginative drummer. George was probably the best musician of them all, but I would categorize his guitar playing as only pretty good.

They were kind of in their element in the early years when they were making girls squeal with such bubble gum fare as, “Please Please Me.” I kind of feel their middle-era stuff like, “No Reply.” But when we get to the, “I am the Walrus,” stage, I can’t take any of it seriously. The only reason their legions of fans don’t recognize their music as drug-fueled self-parody is because most of them (though not all) were nibbling the bark off of trees right along with the Fab Four.

Now, I know what some of you are gonna say. “Ryan, how dare you criticize such a transformative period of enlightenment as the 60’s? Donald Trump is about to be our president! No comparison!”

People! Trump is a product of the ‘60’s. Spray that truth on the back of a stamp and lick it off.

I can also anticipate another argument. “Ryan, you’re a product of the ‘80’s, when Michael Jackson was king. Spray that one in your hair and light it on fire!”

Ok, fine! But putting the pedophilia stuff aside (which happened in the ‘90’s, by the way), Michael had real, honest-to-God talent. Just because he was as crazy as a crack house rat doesn’t mean he wasn’t musically gifted.

Not everything that came out of the ‘60’s was bad. Gim’me The Stones. Gim’me The Who. Gim’me The Doors. Gim’me Adam West as Batman and Sean Connery as James Bond! But don’t give me “Octopus’s Garden,” or I’ll force feed you a marshmallow pie.

I’ll throw you Beatles loyalists one concession. I do love the song, “Let it Be.” I much prefer the quiet, personal spirituality of Paul McCartney to the self-indulgent utopianism of John Lennon’s, “Imagine.” Plus, the piano is very moving.

The real purpose of this post is to see whether or not I can make my mellow pal Dan mad. I already got his hackles up when I slammed, “Alice’s Restaurant,” last Thanksgiving. If my clever plan works as it should, I will get to sleep in on Saturdays from now on.

Valse Triste

After nine years of patience, I finally saw No Country for Old Men last night.

This movie should’ve had everything for me; a crime thriller headlined by Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin, a west Texas backdrop, a murderous psychopath, an old-fashioned sheriff, a briefcase full of money and a drug deal gone bad. A recipe for happiness for a guy like me.

Sadly, I was underwhelmed. I don’t get it. The critics love it. Fans love it. Rotten Tomatoes loves it. What’s wrong with me?

It wasn’t a bad movie. I just wasn’t blown away. I didn’t feel that emotional gut punch that I get from really great movies.

When I watched The Godfather, I understood the hype immediately, and that was long before we got to the climactic bloody baptism montage scene. Same goes for The Departed. How can you hate a movie in which the final line isn’t a line at all, but rather, the spit of a silenced gun blowing a guy’s face off while a rat crawls around? I was a bit cooler toward Goodfellas, but understand why it’s considered a great movie.

But No Country for Old Men was just meh for me. I understand the themes of destiny versus chance as symbolized by the fateful coin toss that serves as the killer’s trademark. But I found Chigurh to be underwhelming. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spoiled by other fictional villains such as Walter White, Tony Soprano and Lorne Malvo.

Malvo makes me think of Fargo, which is also haled as another crime classic by the Coen brothers. I didn’t care for that one either, though I love the TV series knock-off, which is a wonderful example of the student surpassing the teacher.

Maybe the Coen brothers are the problem, or rather, my problem is with the Coen brothers. Sometimes, the best director or writer in the world just can’t make that emotional connection. Steven Spielberg is that way. Whether it’s Indiana Jones or Jaws or even Saving Private Ryan, I just don’t feel that emotional hook that is required of good storytelling. Private Ryan is wonderful at simulating wartime combat, but as a story, it’s kind of thin.

Anyway, I’m done now. Except to say that I also saw Sicario this weekend. Now there’s a film that does indeed live up to the hype. The first 2/3 of it is a standard story about a naive FBI agent plunged into the dark world of the drug culture along our southern border, but the climax elevates everything that came before it.

I guess one out of two ain’t bad. I wonder if Chigurh would agree.

There is No Sulu. Only Zuul!

I have no plans to go see the Ghostbusters reboot. It’s not because I’m sexist. Melissa McCarthy doesn’t do it for me, but whatever.

The reason I’m not going is the same reason I have no intention of wasting time and money on the latest Star Trek installment. I don’t care that Sulu is gay. I mean… George Takei doesn’t like it, but what does his opinion matter, right?

I was talking with Joe and we were commenting on the fact that we never go to movies anymore. It’s not the cost that is prohibitive. I’ll pay $12 to see a good movie. It’s not the visual medium. Most major theaters have audio description for the blind now (and sometimes, it actually works.)

The reason is more basic. I officially have reboot/sequel burn-out. I firmly believe that Hollywood no longer has any originality when it comes to blockbuster entertainment.

Let’s take a look at the biggest movies from the Spring/Summer season of this year:

Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice
Captain America: Civil War
The Jungle Book (this is the third film interpretation of the Rudyard Kipling novel)
Warcraft (based on a videogame)
Finding Dory (sequel)
X-Men: Apocalypse
Star Trek Beyond
The Legend of Tarzan
Ghostbusters
Suicide Squad (another comic book movie)
The Purge: Election Year (sequel)
Jason Bourne (sequel based on the Robert Ludlum novels)
Independence Day: Resurgence (sequel)

The only two original movies I can find that have done well at the box office this season are Zootopia, and The Secret Life of Pets; both animated movies geared for kids.

Now, let’s contrast this list with the top 10 grossing films from 1984; the year the original Ghostbusters was released:

1. Beverly Hills Cop
2. Ghostbusters
3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (sequel)
4. Gremlins
5. The Karate Kid
6. Police Academy
7. Footloose
8. Romancing the Stone
9. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (sequel)
10. Splash

Let me clarify that those 10 films were from the entire year, not just the summer season. Only two sequels out of 10. Not one animated flick! Videogames were still B-grade entertainment. Honest to God… Can you imagine a movie based on Pac-Man?

In closing, let me say that the glut of sequels and reboots shows no sign of ebbing. Coming soon, we will be treated to remakes of Ben-Hur and The Magnificent Seven.

If there’s any justice, the ghosts of Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston will send a giant marshmallow man to Hollywood. There, he will take a giant, sugary crap all over that festering town, because ghosts love symbolism. And it won’t be no wimpy 50-foot marshmallow man. Since Hollywood has to do everything bigger and better, it will be a 500-foot version.

If it survives an attack on Hollywood, maybe Seth MacFarlane could talk it into stopping by Trump Tower for one final push. Wouldn’t it be great if that Staypuff stud could do what the GOP couldn’t and, dump Trump?