Posts tagged #review

READ THIS: Calypso

How’s your summer reading coming along? Are you logging those books? At my library, we encourage adults to join our summer reading club and set a goal to read five books during the summer months. According to my calculations, I should be reading 1.67 books per month between June and August, so I’m a little behind, but Calypso by David Sedaris is my second and that’s at least an accomplishment, right?

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I’ve been reading David Sedaris for almost two decades now, pretty much half my life, and I’m always giddy when I see a new title published. It’s a bit like having a long-overdue conversation with a friend you didn’t know you missed. There have been a few of his books I haven’t quite loved (or even liked, to be honest - Barrel Fever, I’m looking at you), but for me, his humorous observations on life, family, strangers, and just the human experience hold true and make me laugh out loud - literal LOLs. But on occasion, they have also made me cry.

David Sedaris, brother to funny lady Amy Sedaris, grew up in North Carolina before heading off across the country, and eventually across the world, to expand his horizons, all the while writing down daily thoughts and interactions (you can read 1977-2002 so far). As many places as he’s been or lived (Chicago, New York, France, and now England), he never leaves his family for long. I’ve often said if I could join a famous family, I’d want to be a Sedaris. With six children and a strong matriarch and cantankerous patriarch, there appeared to be no shortage of sibling gossip sessions, smokey laughs, fiery fights, bittersweet memories, or wild adventures among the family members. And recalling all this is what David Sedaris does best.

In this latest collection of essays, the suicide of his younger sister, Tiffany, is the string sewing the familial recollections together. Not all of the essays, but a good majority, focus on the remaining Sedaris clan coming together over the years between 2013 and the present to quietly grieve their sister and recall their childhood. They convene several times a year at the Sea Section, the beachfront property in North Carolina David bought on a whim to recapture the memories of his youth when the family would take summer vacations on Emerald Isle.

In addition to trying to make sense of Tiffany’s death, the siblings -- Lisa, David, Gretchen, Amy, and Paul -- as well as their aging father Lou, bicker about the current political climate, play menacing rounds of Sorry, and feed tumors to turtles. Um, what? There are so many quietly heartfelt realizations about family dynamics in this book, but there are also a few hilariously horrible situations sprinkled in there for good measure and feeding a tumor to a turtle is one of them. There’s also gastrointestinal distress while on a book tour. Do with that what you will.

Calypso was an immediate favorite for me. Deeply personal and moving, exploring changing family relationships as he ages himself, this book is the epitome of why I enjoy David Sedaris’ writing so much. And did I mention that I listened to the audiobook? That’s key for me with David Sedaris - there’s nothing like hearing the writer’s stories in his own distinct voice. Especially when he’s describing shopping for street fashion in Tokyo with his sister Amy. The only thing better is going to a live reading - I’ve done this several times and met him once and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a fan.

Posted on July 1, 2018 and filed under READ THIS.

READ THIS: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark

Oh, hey, did you know that I’m a librarian? Did you know that one of the biggest myths about librarians is that they get to read all day? Man, I wish. I barely have time to read a few pages on my lunch break, let alone hours on end amidst helping patrons on the computers, attending meetings, and shuffling all the paperwork around.

But this is where audiobooks come in and save the day (yes, listening to audiobooks counts as reading - ask any librarian and you’ll get an earful, no pun intended). My library offers (free!) downloadable eBooks and audiobooks and I also have an account with Audible, so I’m well-stocked in setting the mood for my daily commute. And over the last few months, the mood has been decidedly dark. I’ve always been interested in true crime and murder, but recently I’ve fallen down what I call a “murder hole,” exclusively reading/listening to dark, gruesome tales of death, deception, and destruction. It keeps me balanced.

The last three books I’ve read have been macabre explorations of humanity: The Devil in the White City (about the 1893 World’s Fair and the murder mansion of H.H. Holmes); The Alienist (definitely read the book before watching the TNT series, if you haven’t already); and The Stranger Beside Me (true crime master Ann Rule’s exploration of the brutal mass-murderer Ted Bundy… who was also her friend).

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Needless to say, I’d been looking forward to reading Michelle McNamara’s posthumous publication on the then as-yet-to-be-identified Golden State Killer, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. I purchased it via Audible the day it was released and I finished the almost 10-hour audiobook in less than 24 hours. That’s the equivalent of staying up all night to read a book you just can’t put down. Because staying up all night to learn about one of the most chilling and brutal serial rapist-turned-murderers in American history isn’t exactly something that lends itself to a peaceful night’s sleep anyway.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is the product of true crime writer McNamara’s obsessive search for the identity of the Golden State Killer (GSK), a moniker she coined to encompass and expand upon the previous names for the serial killer whose elusive actions terrified the state of California from 1974-1986: the East Area Rapist and/or Original Night Stalker (EAR/ONS). Sounds like a cheery fellow, eh?

McNamara, who was married to comedian Patton Oswalt, spent years researching the movements and mindsets and tracking suspects and leads in the GSK case, documenting her progress on her blog, True Crime Diary, and in various magazines. Sadly, Michelle passed away unexpectedly and never got to see her book make it off her laptop. Her research assistants (she also worked with the police for years) couldn’t let her investigations go unread and finished the book by pulling excerpts from published stories and crafting chapters from notes and drafts. And the final product is chilling.

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As if this all wasn’t enough to recommend the book on its own, in late April of this year, after more than 40 years of searching, police identified and arrested the Golden State Killer: Joseph James DeAngelo. And I have no doubt, nor could anybody who reads the book, that McNamara’s work was a driving force in solving the case. In fact, after following the news of the arrest (obsessively, I must admit), I re-listened to the entire book and felt so many emotions knowing McNamara wasn’t with us to see the GSK being brought to justice for his heinous actions. 

If you’re into true (or even fake) crime, this book is a must-read, even more so now that the identity of the GSK has been revealed. Questions and theories outlined in the book are now being answered in real time, as it were. It really is quite an extraordinary situation.

Also, you know, go to your library every once in a while. We have good stuff.

Posted on June 10, 2018 and filed under READ THIS.

The Worst Movie I've Seen, Lately: Beyond Skyline

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Disclaimer: I am not a movie expert. Don't expect an in depth analysis of the film.  I'm just a guy that like to watch movies. Sometimes, they’re good, sometimes they’re bad.

The other day I got an email from Netflix letting me know of some new additions available. Since I have a penchant for sci-fi, I was recommended Beyond Skyline. I figured it was a sequel to the 2010 dumpster fire of a movie Skyline. So, I watched it. Wow, was it bad. Hardly watchable. It wasn't so much a sequel and a concurrent storyline. At least I think that's what they were going for. I’ll save you the trouble and give you the play-by-play.

We open with some random scene of what looks like a field hospital. I don't really know what it was. I guess it was meant to be in the future, but didn't sell it well. It had a voice over monologue that i'm sure was meant to be profound, but i can't recall a single bit of it.

I didn't get invested enough to learn anyone's name so I will just call them by what they are.

We open with a dude in a truck using mouthwash. Typical scruffy type you know is meant to be the hero/good guy. You can tell he is troubled by something, cuz that's obviously the cookie cutter protagonist they are going with. I'll call him sad dad. Oh yeah, he is a cop. We learn he has been on leave because his wife died. He is at the police station because his son got in a fight. Wow, didn't see that coming. Where his dad is sad at the world, he is mad at the world and keeps getting in fights. So, we’ll call him mad son. Some pointless argument happens and the truck wont start so they take the subway.

We cut to the train car and you have a perfect sampling of random people. Right on cue, there is a crash and the train comes to a halt. How original. So, sad dad goes and talks to the train conductor, we’ll call her subway, and she tries to take control. Of course more crashing sounds happen and they immediately say to hell with procedure and take off down the tracks. Subway pretty much lets sad cop take over without hesitation.

Now we see a police station and everyone is gone. A guy we learned to be the sad dads partner, now called partner cop, comes out of the bathroom like nothing happened. Now, there is no damn way he wouldn't have heard all the commotion, yet he is clueless. He runs into another random cop and they see a bunch of people outside looking at some blue light. Next thing you know, the people are flying into the air and we see they are being gobbled up by a spaceship. So, they decide to run and hide in the subway.

What a coincidence! Sad dad runs into his buddy, partner cop in the very same subway because of course they do. This movie writes itself.

So, they are walking down a tunnel and the Airforce nukes the spaceship. Obviously, when confronting a superior, alien force, nuke a major city.

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The subway collapses and kills a bunch of the random subway people. Then an alien jumps out and eats partner cop. Mad son is mesmerized by the blue lights and his eyes get all weird like Lady Gaga did his eyeliner so sad dad shoots it, like 20 times, at least. Partner cop isn't dead and is just being held by the alien so sad dad cuts him out. LOOK OUT! Alien isn't dead so they climb up a car to get to the street. So, sad dad takes a road flare, and puts it in the cars gas tank. Somehow, he has enough time to climb up the car to safety before it blown. That's not how fire works. So stupid.

Anyway, now they are all running around and I notice subway is wearing capri pants. In what version of LA is a subway conductor allowed to wear capris? Capris are dumb, this is dumb.

I kinda checked out for a while and don't remember what happened, but they end up getting sucked up into the ship. Now we see the aliens are ripping the brains out of people and tossing the bodies aside. Somehow, sad dad still has a gun that never runs out of bullets  and starts shooting things. That makes boss alien mad and he sends other bad guys after him. Somehow, sad dad seems to get flushed out of the ship only to get his leg impaled on a spike. Next thing you know, he pulls himself back up and you see him parkour his way back up, bad leg and all. Suuuure….

Now, sad dad is wandering around the ship, where everything is wet and slimy (why would it be wet and slimy?) and he runs into a blue eyed bad guy. Que obligatory human vs alien fight. In comes a red eyed alien who starts fighting blue eyed alien and kills him. If 90’s rap videos taught us anything, its that red and blue hate each other so it makes sense.

Sad dad follows red eyed alien and they find a pregnant lady. Lady gives birth and wouldn't you know, red eyed alien turn out to be the babies father. Oh, and the mom seemed to die for no reason whatsoever. Turns out the family was sucked up and the dads brain got put into an alien robot body thing and now they are back together. At least I think thats what happened. I was up getting a beer by this point.

Sad dad makes a deal with red eyed alien that he will keep his daugher safe if he helps him find his son.

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Now, sad dad and red eyes are fighting more blue eyes and sad dad get an alien weapon arm. Sure, why the hell not. At some point in the fight they find mad son and to save them all, mad somn sacrifices himself and gets his brain sucked out.

Then red eyes blows up the ship.

Now they are in Laos. Not a major city like Tokyo or Hong Kong, but the middle of nowhere Laos.

The ship crashed and sad dad, subway, baby and the blind guy escape. Oh yeah, they have had an old blind guy with them up till now. Not really important.

Let flip to the section called racial stereotypes in the Movies For Dummies book. All the Laotians know karate!!!

They run into a couple bad guys with motorcycle helmets and get into a huge, i'm going to kill you as quick as I can fight. Its american brawn vs asian martial arts. Of course, they seem evenly matched. THEN, they see a worse bad guy and become friends. Instantly they team up.

Oh, I almost forgot, one of the motorcycle people find an egg thing and puts it in her bag. It will be important later, cuz thats how movies work.

After I come back from getting another beer, I see they are in some big temple thing. Asian guys says something profound about The Vietnam War and they go inside.

Well wouldn't you know, the temple is being used as a rebel base where they process drugs!!! It is so bad with the stereotypes it's insulting.

There just happens to be an American hippie/junky there that is the chemist for the drug lab. He uses his desktop computer and seems to sequence the babies DNA somehow and they find out she is growing super fast and needs blood because she is running out? Why would she be running out of blood? Oh, and now she is part alien herself, or something like that. Since sad dad had the alien arm thing his blood is the only one that works. She sleeps through the night and now she is a toddler.

They talk about how it doesn't make sense that our DNA is compatible with the alien and not only decide we are being harvested, that it's happened before. Oh and the aliens put us here for that purpose. Whatever…

Here is a great line. “But they didn't count on one thing, evolution.” SO DUMB!!!

Ok, after yet another beer, we see subway and one of the motorcycle helmets setting up a claymore mine in the jungle. Then a giant alien starts chasing them. Really, its a normal alien inside a giant robot thing. Think Pacific Rim. Motorcycle helmet runs into a minefield and sacrifices herself when the big guy chases her.

Now, there are tons of rebels and villagers booby trapping the temple and everyone gets a gun.

They come up with a plan to use the babies blood, to infect the egg thing since she is immune.The logic is it will somehow free everyone who is being controlled by blue eyes bad guy. Turns out the majority of the blue eyes aliens they are fighting are actually shells with an infected human brain running the show. If they can “free” them, they will return to normal. Well, as normal can be living in an alien robot body thing.

Anyway, sad dad climbs onto the ship with a syringe of baby blood and injects it in one of the egg things, which turns out is a bullet for a big light gun? I know...just go with it.

Well, sad dad end up fighting a blue eye and his wedding ring falls out of his pocket. Blue eye sees it and his eyes flicker to red. Guess what, blue eyes is mad son!!!!!

On the ground, there is tons of hand to alien hand fighting. It seems like the aliens know karate at points.

Sad dad puts the bullet in the big light gun and i guess shoots it? Its starts to turn red and boss alien freaks out and rips the gun out of the ship.He is in another Pacific Rim robot thing at this point so it's easy for him.

Alien boss shows back up and is just about to kill everyone when mad son gets his own big robot and they fight.

Now we see the baby, now toddler wandering around in the maylay and touches the busted egg gun and is able to activate it. It turns red.

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Mad son is getting his ass kicked by boss alien and sad dad shoots it with a rocket that was laying around. Convenient! Amiright?

Now, boss alien is pissed and goes after sad dad and at the last second, mad son/red eyed alien saves the day and shoots him with the red egg gun. Boss alien is dead and the others turn to red eyes.

THEN, the sad dad and mad son/alien do what any dad/ alien son would do. They fist bump.

Jump to the future I guess and the half alien baby/toddler is all grown up. I think that's who was in the field hospital thing in the beginning, but it doesn't make sense since she isn't injured. She is the leader of the resistance. Oh, and they are on a spaceship taking the fight to the blue eyes.

The end. Thank God thats over.

Wait, theres more!

To top it all off, what do they show during the credit cut sequences? OUTTAKES!!!! How in the hell can you try and pull off a serious movie and end with outtakes?!

Watch it if you want, but don't say I didn't warn you.


 

Posted on June 8, 2018 and filed under The Worst Movie I've Seen.

Mixed Up Burgers: Review

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If a burger is a blank canvas, the guys at Mixed Up Burgers sure do paint a pretty picture.

Located in an unassuming strip mall behind a Circle K is far west Grand Prairie is a gem of a burger establishment. Mixed Up Burgers twist on the classic is they mix in the topping into the patty. They have all manner of mix-ins and topping to choose from so let your heart be your guide and build the burger of your dreams.

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Including a vast selection of pre designed burgers, they feature a Burger Of The Month. This months BOM is the Chorizo Burger. It’s 10 oz of Chorizo & Fresh Ground Beef with pepper jack cheese mixed in cooked to perfection on a flat-top grill. It is served on a well toasted telera bun with avocado mash, pico, lettuce and cotilla cheese.

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Once I saw that on the menu, I knew I had to have it. I paired it with a side of well-done, natural cut fries.

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I have had Chorizo burgers in the past, and while good, they are often a greasy mess. I don’t know what the ratio of chorizo to beef they used, but it was perfect. All the chorizo flavor stayed in the burger and not running down your arm. Truth be told, I’m not much of an avocado/guac person, but it was a welcome addition to this beauty. It added just the right amount of creaminess without muting everything out. The veggies and the pico were fresh and had a nice crunch. All in all, a very well put together burger.

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The fries were also a welcome treat. I always order freshly cut fries well done since it’s hard to get them nice and crispy. Im talking to you In-N-Out Burger. They did these fries right! Perfectly crispy and well seasoned, just as a fry should be.

If you are looking for a good burger and a local business to support, give Mixed Up Burgers a visit. You won’t be disappointed.

Mixed Up Burgers

510 E. Ave K

Grand Prairie, TX
Tel: 972.606.6700

Posted on May 4, 2018 and filed under Life On A Bun.

Sorry, Not Sorry Cinema: DEEP RISING

Because I love starting recurring columns, that never recur: here's a new one! Welcome to "Sorry, Not Sorry" where we'll discuss the horrible things we love....with no apologies.

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1998's Deep Rising isn't a great movie. It's not a bad movie. It's a meh movie. BUT for some reason I have to re-watch it: Every. Time. I. Find. It. Streaming. 

I can't tell you why, but like the people that made this movie, I'll try.

Upon each subsequent viewing I find more and more wrong with it, but alas, here we are. I just watched Deep Rising again this afternoon. I was scrolling through HBOGo just minding my own business, I see Deep Rising and I'm like "oh, that's cool, I'll add that to my watchlist" annnnnnnnnnnnd I'm watching it again.

It's kind of a monster movie. It's kind of an action movie. It's trying really hard to be a comedy. It does all of these things to varying degrees. 

The story goes like this:

There's this big cruise ship sailing about in a storm filled to the brim with rich people. There's this hot lady-thief there to empty the ship's safe. She gets caught and locked in the pantry. There are strange groans and growls coming from the sea. Suddenly something goes wrong...

A few miles away we find our rugged hero getaway-boat-captain shuttling his tiny boat's crew towards an unknown destination with a group of mercenaries on board. They run across the cruise ship after their boat is damaged and head aboard looking for a way to repair their ship. Something's not right. The vessel is deserted save for a few survivors. As they search for clues they find themselves being picked off one by one by something...blah, blah, blah.

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You get the gist. There's some crazy monster from the deep lurking about and this ragtag group of criminals and crew must find a way off the boat. The monster is...interesting. It's like a giant squid...thing. It'd be scarier if the digital effects didn't look like some PS2-era video game cutscene. The movie could have been soooooo much better if they had put that CGI budget towards some practical effects. This movie came out four years after Jurassic Park so there's really no excuse. Somehow that low-res look, however laughable, adds to the charm. There aren't really any tense moments, but there are spaces for them. They're trying. So hard. For instance, there a scene when one of the thief-ship's crew is trying to repair the damage (the massive 4x6 foot hole) in the side of their ship and is attacked/eaten. She's welding an angled piece of the hull to...nothing. She's literally just running the welder/blowtorch over the surface of the metal all while water (up to her waist) sloshes over her work surface. She hears that aforementioned groan from the ocean and we know her time has come, but all I can think about is how in the hell did she intend to fix that gaping hole! Maybe it was some kind of new fangled metal that you could just heat up and stretch to mend like Billy Mays' Mighty Putty. This isn't the only instance of "tension" during metalwork. At almost the same time our captain, now aboard the cruise ship, is heating up a pipe and banging on it, somehow crafting a part to repair his ship's engine. He's actually banging the roundness out of the pipe. Not quite sure what that's supposed to fix, but while he works the monster strategically picks off another couple of mercenaries. Somehow, I'm still invested.

The dialog might be the best part. What better example could I offer than the THREE times "___________, my ass" is used in the span of 90 seconds. "You know what badass sea-people would say to each other? 'My ass' after they hear something ridiculous." Later on, during some of that tense welding, we get this hilarious exchange: 

Hero Captain: What you got there?

Comedic Relief Mechanic: Peanut...

Hero Captain: Peanut?

Comedic Relief Mechanic: Peanut.

Hero Captain: Okay, peanut...

Comedic Relief Mechanic: [drops his peanut in the water] Shit!

Some gut-busting stuff, I know. For some strange reason though...I laugh, or maybe that's too generous...let's say a smile creeps across my face, but a genuine smile nevertheless. There's a certain lameness to every line delivered in Deep Rising, but it's the confidence with which they are delivered that earns that smile. Deep Rising is one hour and forty five minutes of Dad-jokes.

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The cast and crew of Deep Rising is a veritable smorgasbord of "hey, it's that guy!" guys. Stephen Sommers is behind both the camera and word processor on this one pulling double duty as writer and director. You might not know his name, but Sommers scored a pretty big hit the following year with The Mummy. He's still active in Hollywood having most recently directed Odd Thomas which I rather enjoyed. Treat Williams stars as our wisecracking hero captain. No one can deliver Dad-jokes like a guy that looks like a friend of your Dad's. I mean this sincerely: Treat is a reel treat (I think that was a Dad-joke). Famke Janssen stars as hot lady-thief and love interest to Treat Williams. Oh, did I not mention that they manage to shoehorn a romance into this sea monster madness? Yeah, love blooms on a corpse-filled boat. Director Stephen Sommers must have taken a shine to comic relief mechanic Kevin J. O'Connor because O'Connor makes an appearance in several other Sommers joints throughout the years. This love affair may have actually been sparked years before when O'Connor (and Famke Janssen) played a role in Sommers' Lord of Illusions. The cast is rounded out with Anthony Heald (Silence of the Lambs), Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy), and Cliff Curtis (Sunshine).

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Deep Rising closes with *spoilers* our two lovebirds escaping to a "deserted" island in the middle of the ocean only to be greeted with the rustling of trees in the distance as something huge makes its way across the island. Deep Rising was so sure of itself that it went ahead and filmed a ready-for-sequel ending. It's that self confidence that makes me love Deep Rising. I feel like I was onto something with the Dad-joke reference. Deep Rising is the "Dad" of movies: it's not funny, it's not sexy, it's not exciting, but dammit, you love it anyway.

We give Deep Rising 5 digested fingers out of five!!!

We give Deep Rising 5 digested fingers out of five!!!

Deep Rising is available for streaming on HBOGo.

Posted on April 6, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

ABC's The Crossing: A First Look

After watching ABC's The Crossing, I am left with cautious optimism. Its obvious they are going for a Lost vibe and has a feeling of HBO's The Leftovers. While it does pull this off in the first episode, only time will tell if they can maintain it throughout the season.

Photo by Jack Rowand/ABC - © 2017 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Photo by Jack Rowand/ABC - © 2017 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

The show opens underwater with the camera panning around a sea of bodies. Some alive, some deceased.  How they got there is a total mystery.

 

Local Sheriff Jude Ellis (Steve Zahn) is sent to investigate what was reported to be a body on the beach, only to find hundreds, both on the beach and in the water. Of course, with a rescue/recovery of that magnitude, the Feds take over. Emma Ren (Sandrine Holt) leads the investigation and gets told an outlandish story involving time travel, future genocide and the next evolution of the human race.

 

So far, the show has legs. Its has plenty of storylines to sustain multiple seasons. I'll leave it at that and recommend watching it for yourself. If you do, let us know what you think in the comments.

 

Posted on April 3, 2018 .

REVIEW: The Devil's Candy

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You know what? The Devil's Candy is pretty great! As a seasoned horror film veteran I went into it thinking I wouldn't like it. To be exact, I went into it thinking "this is going to annoy me". I've seen some great scary movies. I've seen some a'ight scary movies. And, sadly, I've seen some scary movies that brought more yawns and eye-rolls than real chills. 

The Devil's Candy left me pleasantly surprised. Judging from the box art (aka the few screen grabs on Netflix) and short plot tease you'd be right in assuming that this was just going to be another of those run-of-the-mill demonic possession/haunted house flicks that seem to perforate our "Just Added" lists like so many holes in our streaming Swiss cheese. This snap judgement may or may not be the fault of the streaming service. Back in the glory days of Blockbuster and the like, you found new movies by box art. Whichever DVD had the craziest title or coolest art was going home with you that night. The game wasn't perfect though, you were just as likely to end up with a dud as you were to finding video store gold. But, I digress.

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The Devil's Candy stars Ethan Embry as a tattooed, long-haired, heavy metal-loving painter. He and his family are looking for a new home and think they may have found a winner in an old house with a history. SURPRISE! The previous tenants died there and their psychotic adult son has disappeared! GASP! But, seriously, this is about where the haunted house/possession tropes end. The set-up is all too familiar, but the rest of the story makes a much needed departure from the genre's tried and true plot points. That's not to say that the film breaks new ground in horror, but it veers away from the expected and that's refreshing. I don't want to spoil too much of the plot as that veering was a lot of the fun with this movie. It leads you into thinking things are going to play out one way and keeps you invested by constantly going another direction. There are plenty of tense moments and a substantial amount of blood and gore to be found later on, too, if that's your thing. Pruitt Taylor Vince costars as the aforementioned psychotic son and does not disappoint.

The Devil's Candy is a surprising horror film, at least for me. It's got the name and plot points of a bargain bin scary movie, but it ends up delivering a lot more, specifically the greatest guitar smashing climax in the history of film.

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NOTEWORTHY:

  • + Heavy Metal Horror
  • + Cute relationship between Dad and Daughter
  • + Pruitt Taylor Vince is as creepy as ever
  • + It's NOT another Amityville
  • + Guitar SMASH!!!
  • -  Paintings in movies are lame
  • -  Poor promotional images on streaming services may not get this film the views it deserves

The Devil's Candy was directed by Sean Byrne and stars Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby, and Pruitt Taylor Vince. It is currently available for streaming via Netflix.

Posted on March 22, 2018 .

Make Time For Timeless

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If there was an elective back in my high school days called “Time-Travel Theory” I would’ve jumped at the chance to take it. As it turned out, the closest thing available was History class.
Luckily during last Fall’s TV season, I was able to get an education in both subjects via a new adventure-drama by the name of Timeless.

Timeless begins with History Professor, Lucy Preston (Abigail Spencer) being persuaded by Homeland Security to lead a team in pursuit of terrorists in a stolen time machine; villains who if not stopped, would alter major historic events for their benefit.
Chasing the terrorists along with Lucy (in an earlier prototype of the hijacked Time Machine) are reluctant pilot Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) and Delta Force Soldier, Wyatt (Matt Lanter). Before long, we find out no one involved is being completely forthright, and the motives of would-be lead terrorist, Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic) may not be as wholly sinister as the Government has led Team Timeless to believe.  

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The first handful of the show's episodes were a fun mix of historical fiction and sci-fi, confirming the enjoyable “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego for adults" vibe shown in promos; but myself and others who stuck around through those first 5-6 episodes needed to establish characters were soon rewarded by way of twisty plot reveals that raised the stakes from being just a adventurous romp to a must-see mission with gravitas. Namely, a conspiracy that reached back through History as well as all over the globe at the hands of a mysterious faction known simply as "Rittenhouse".

While Timeless is not afraid to pay homage to it's time travel forefathers, dropping in sly references to Back to the Future and Quantum Leap along the way, it closest shares a sensibility with the 00's ABC cult hit, LOST, minus the propensity for dead-end plot elements that rubbed so many LOST fans the wrong way by the end. Despite it's cliff hanger story-telling and the millions of eyeballs on it during season 1, Timeless' ratings were considered borderline given it's expensive production budget. The show was actually cancelled last May before it's passionate fanbase spoke out on social media and earned it the very rare, "uncancelled" status just 3 days after the initial decision was announced. 

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While season 1 saw the team show up at the Assassination of Lincoln, The Battle of the Alamo, and pitted them against Nazi's on more than one occasion- I can't wait to see how Season 2 ups the ante -especially how exactly that over-arching conspiracy will play out.
The whole first season of Timeless is available for your viewing pleasure on Hulu, and at NBC.com/timeless/episodes
If you can't wait to jump right in, season 2 will no doubt, be preceded by a recap,
Timeless returns TONIGHT (Sunday 3/11) 10/9c‎ on NBC.

Whether you're a new viewer or have been anticipating it's return for the better part of a year like myself, I'd encourage you to share your love for the show on social media to ensure it doesn't need resuscitation a second time. Make time for Timeless; you won't be disappointed.

Posted on March 11, 2018 .

The Quarter Lounge

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Have you ever stepped into a place and instantly been taking back to a certain time in your childhood? Well if you were an 80’s or 90’s kid I have just the place for you. The Quarter Lounge Arcade. For a small fee of $5.50 for all day access (or just $3 for access to the arcade only) you too can have this experience. (Arcade games will only run you a quarter and pinball fifty cents a game.)

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There honestly isn't a bad thing I can say this place. They have most of the classic arcade games you love, plus access to a library of retro systems and games. If you do by chance stumble across a game they don’t have feel free to bring up your own copy to play or check out the store next door which sales used copies of retro games and systems as well. I’ve spent hours here upon each visit so be sure to clear out your day if you do stop in, because they have something you can waste countless hours on.

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Every Saturday The Quarter Lounge Arcade also holds a tournament on one of the cabinets they have or one of the classic retro games for only a $10 entry fee (which also gives you access to the arcade and retro systems), with a payout of free entry to the arcade for five visits or depending on how many people enter, a prize from the countless video game themed items (lamps, shadow boxes, retron retro systems, ect.)

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With a friendly staff that is always willing to help you out in anyway they can and a art consignment program for local artist you can’t go wrong with a stop by.  Worse case scenario you stop by to pick up a new piece of art for your game room and have a friendly chat about video games. Tell em J-Money sent ya. You won't get a discount or anything, my money is on that they'll look at you confused and say ok, but hey it wouldn’t hurt ya.

Quarter Lounge Arcade

1424 Brown Trail

Bedford, TX 76022

(469) 992-2389  

 

Posted on February 17, 2018 .

Black Panther Review

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The formula for Marvel movies relies heavy on action, jokes and then story. There's nothing wrong with that and it's the formula we've all come to love and enjoy. Black Panther takes that formula, repositions the weight of each and gives you an incredible story with plenty of action and toned down comic relief. That is what makes this film so special in the MCU, it's a real drama that doesn't make you yearn for the next action scene. It lives up to the excited anticipation of it's release which earned it the highest grossing pre-sale tickets of any non-Star Wars movie.

Beyond being a super hero origin story, Black Panther is a story of forgiveness and a moving one at that. Since I'm not too big on giving away plot and story points on opening night, I'll leave it at that and get right to the construction of the film. 

Usually a movie with an ensemble cast will falter with some character development slipping through the cracks but not here. Despite having a huge roster of new characters for us (comic film fans, not comic fans who also enjoy film) everybody is almost completely fleshed out and it never leaves you grasping at clues to remind us of the relationship between each player. The development of each person and relationship is never shoehorned in either, it all develops rather organically. That is thanks largely in part to writer/director Ryan Coogler who is best known for saving the Rocky franchise with his film, Creed. The other thanks would have to go to the amazing cast.

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Chadwick Boseman delivers an amazing performance, as per usual, owning the character of Black Panther 100% but even more so when the claws are put away as King T'Challa. He proves that it's no wonder that he stole the show in Captain America: Airport Fight and pretty much anything else he is in. And not to be overlooked, he who is quickly becoming one of this era's greatest actors who absolutley immerses himself into the character he's playing, Michael B. Jordan performs Killmonger with the passion of Creed and the unforgiving evil of... I can't thing of a time where he was hateable... Human Torch (based solely on how terrible Fant4stic was). The rest of the cast was top notch and to mention them all would take up this entire review, one thing I will point out is that Martin Freeman's accent never slips to British but does go Fargo-ish a few time. Listen and tell me if you here it.

I have little to no complaints about Black Panther and that's not the high of just getting out of the movie talking. It is amazing and if it does not get a nomination outside of special effects, it will be a damn shame. Comicbook movies have a hard time getting nominated but this is among the ones that truly deserve the honor.  

Go see Black Panther. You will not be disappointed.  

 

(There is a mid-credit scene and one post credit scene. The latter is... Okay. It's a second tier MCU character, just a heads up.) 

Posted on February 16, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.