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Sunday, January 31, 2021

WINTER WONDERLAND OF ASSHOLISM


Ahead of the impending nor'easter, I just went around the corner to the Associated for a few items, not even stuff I couldn't wait until after the storm to obtain. At that point it was barely snowing, just a flake or two here and there.

I got there and found the place had reinstated COVID-related amounts of people in the store, so I waited on line for about ten or fifteen minutes to get in. When I made it inside I was almost shut out, but the staffer at the door, Annette, recognized me and let me in, cutting off the line once I was inside. I got the ten items I needed and got on line and commenced with the usual long wait that happens during blizzard panic. The wait allowed me to notice that the other shoppers had filled up their carts with Brobdingnagian amounts of items, as though they were going to be snowed in for the remainder of the winter. It was truly ridiculous, and the Latina heifer in front of me had a cart overflowing with 2-liter bottles of soda, multiple types of chips, other assorted junk food, and stacks of Oreos and Fig Newtons.

Anyway, the wait was interrupted when a fifty-something black chick on my line accused a white couple of cutting the line. There were three open lines and the white couple got onto an open one, but the black chick for some reason accused them of cutting. She loudly berated them, particularly the female of the pair, thinking her embarrassing display of "going all black" on them would scare them into some sort of submission over nothing. To her credit, the white chick explained to the belligerent harridan that there were three lines and that they had simply gotten on one that was open.

The black chick nonetheless continued her hostile antics, attempting to bring the staff in on it, but the staff — all Latinas — told her that she was in the wrong and the white chick had done nothing to earn her ire. That shut her up for a moment, but then she began complaining about it to herself in a loud voice. Most people would have let it go right there because she was clearly just a pointlessly angry person just looking for a fight for no reason, but the white chick overheard her and said "What's your problem?" That gave the black chick an excuse to continue her tirade, only this time she left her place on line to confront the white chick directly. She got in the white chick's face and bellowed "'What's my problem?" My problem is you!!! You're an asshole!!! I will drag you around this store!!! Do you hear me? I WILL DRAG YOU AROUND THIS STORE!!! MY SISTER IS A DETECTIVE!!!" Again, to her credit, the white chick did not back down at all, responding with "Oooooooh, I'm SO scared..." in the same manner one child would address another on the playground. The black chick, angered that the white chick was clearly not phased by her antics began to rant and rave incoherently, getting more and more wound-up while the other customers shitted and moved away because she was clearly becoming unhinged at this point — remember, this was all over nothing — so the staff opened up the seldom-used fourth checkout aisle and moved her onto it in order to appease her and shut her up. The tactic worked, though she still maintained attitude as she exited.

I tell you, impending blizzards never fail to bring out the worst in people. I have lived here for going on 24 years and every time I decide to pick up a few items as a blizzard looms, there is invariably some asshole who will get fed up with the long waits on line and take out their frustration on some innocent fellow customer. Without fail.

Sometimes I hate people.


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS (2019)

Much ado about nothing.
 
Well, I finally saw GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS (2019), and my life would have been in no way diminished if I had skipped it altogether. ( refused to pay to see it in the theater.) At least it got me through most of today's dialysis session.

I know that there are a lot of people out there who will cream their jeans over anything with the Godzilla name attached to it, and that audience was more than likely satisfied by this bloated, needlessly overlong, bland studio gewgaw that amounted to the cinematic equivalent of jangling dangled keys in front of an infant, and they are welcome to it. It's a CGI orgy and pretty much nothing more. The characters, if you can even call them that, did not engage me in the slightest, and that's really saying something when you consider that Charles Dance plays the antagonist. (The film tragically squanders his talents.) And though the characters in the Japanese run can largely be described as annoying, corny, or silly, at least they had personalities that made them memorable and entertaining. Also, they were fun. (Some prefect examples: Astronauts Glenn and Fuji, Miss Namikawa, and the polar opposite of silly, boring, and unmemorable, Dr. Serizawa.)

As for the monsters, I liked what they did with Mothra, and Rodan's battle with the Mexican air force was spectacular, but I didn't give a shit about either Godzilla nor King Ghidorah.
It was like watching clones of dear old friends trying to pass themselves off as the real thing. You see, for me the Toho monsters just do not work when handled outside of their native culture and specific context. In the better films of his Japanese franchise, Godzilla was originally envisioned as the embodiment of the horror of the atomic bomb as commented upon by a people who experienced it firsthand — TWICE — and he was later retconned to be the living vengeance of those who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which is extremely heavy stuff that lends the character true gravitas and terror. Removed from that context, all you have is a big lizard. Also gone is any trace of the personality displayed in the homegrown Godzilla films, and that personality, be it when he's an outright walking natural disaster or when he's something of a superhero, Godzilla had an identifiable character and swagger that is utterly absent in his American iteration, an aspect that I say stems from the American studio's fundamental lack of understanding of the character at his most basic. Sure, the special effects were among the best that money can buy, but they were in service of a dull, un-involving narrative that's as hollow as an ice cream cone minus a scoop.

Anyway, I'm glad that I had the good sense to avoid this during its theatrical run, as, to me, it would have been a waste of twenty bucks. It was every bit the empty corporate product that I expected, and now I fear the same may be the case with GODZILLA VS KONG. Thanks to how much I enjoyed KONG: SKULL ISLAND, I will see GODZILLA VS KONG, but the bar of my expectations is firmly set lower that a slug's ballsack. If it's actually good, I will totally support it, but if it sucks and it's boring, I'll bail on all further American Godzilla entries.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

BATMAN:SOUL OF THE DRAGON (2021)

 (L-R) Richard Dragon, Batman, Lady Shiva, the Bronze Tiger. Sheer badassery.

A dear friend who's immersing himself into the DC animated movies strongly recommended that I check out BATMAN: SOUL OF THE DRAGON, and he was absolutely right. Its setting is the world of '70's-era kung fu and blaxploitation movies, or rather a blending of the two flavors, and it reimagines the Batman as one of several former students of a martial arts master who band together to take on an otherworldly evil. It's non-stop action from start to finish and it will all be quite familiar to those steeped in the films that it evokes.

The originally Caucasian Richard Dragon has been recast as Bruce Lee's ENTER THE DRAGON-style superspy, and it works like a charm. The Bronze Tiger is also present — voiced by Black Dynamite himself and real-life martial arts badass, Michael Jai White — and I'll be damned if his look is not meant to evoke '70's-era Luke Cage, which also works beautifully. Lady Shiva is her usual utterly deadly self (the story does not in any way shy away from her total willingness to kill), and the Batman in this story is definitely the Englehart-Rogers version, visually returning his look to that of his 1930's pre-Robin iteration (my favorite version, BTW). 
 

Batman, rockin' it old school.

BATMAN: SOUL OF THE DRAGON is a solid winner and it gets my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION for those who are in on what it's laying down. The live-action Batman movies wish they were even 1/16 as good or as much fun as this 82-minute animated effort.
 
With these four united, the bad guys may as well dig their own graves and save the undertakers the trouble.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

CRUISIN' WITH IVAN


Yesterday's dialysis went without a hitch, though I did end up suffering from the usual foamy saliva and hiccups afterward, but I distracted myself from that with an evening over at Tracey's. That said, the one new negative hitch to yesterday was the guy I got on my car service ride home from treatment. He was a chatty Russian who has been a cabbie for 30 years, and he spoke fluent (though moose-and-squirrel-accented) English, so there was zero language barrier when for 25 minutes he filled me in on his philosophy of life, work ethics and politics.

Among other classic quotes from this guy were "I came here as a political refugee and was brought up all my life to work hard, that's why I am a conservative," and "Everything wrong with this country is because of Hilary." I was a captive audience as he cheerily went on and on about his views on America (which he loves) and the greatness of its Republican leaders, how Trump was the best thing to happen to this country and how the current treatment of him was a disgrace, and, my favorite part, the "fact" that all African-Americans amount to nothing in this country because they are "simply too damn lazy." When he let fly with that one, I lowered my mask, which obscures everything but my eyes, and told him "Well, I'm a 55-year-old African-American and I would still be working right now if not for falling victim to corporate downsizing twice and one firing for petty reasons, plus to say nothing of illnesses that rendered a full-time job out of the question for the past seven years. Without missing a beat, the guy explained that he did not find all black people lazy, just African-Americans. To explain his point, he noted that his daughter had married a hard-working Jamaican immigrant and that he had two grand-kids from that union that he loves more than anything, plus he was quick to point out that his son-in-law worked three jobs "and never slacks." He then recounted his history of having been in the U.S. Navy for some years, and how grateful he was to Trump for "channeling benefits to U.S. military, especially Navy veterans," and that African-Americans, despite being "lazy bastards and whores," constantly received endless benefits that they were unworthy of because they had not earned them due to their laziness. Oh, and he was also an advocate for the barring of immigration into the country because "illegals get all of the benefits and they did not earn any of them." He capped off that statement with full acknowledgement of his own immigrant status, but noted that he earned everything that he gets.

I endured all of this in gobsmacked disbelief, as I am used to such conversations on my car service rides to and from dialysis being automatically nipped in the bud by the language barrier. (My drivers from the insurance-provided service are invariably Russian.) But at no point was I offended, simply because the driver was so cheery and articulate while espousing his Trumpanzee leanings. He was charming , sweet, and intelligent, and his overall personality was utterly charming, despite me absolutely being in total disagreement with nearly everything that came out of his mouth. Anyway, when we finally arrived at my building and my driver wished me well, you could have heard a sonic boom from the speed with which I exited that car and made my way into my building. An evening at Tracey's was just what I needed after that, and I wrote all of this up not only to amuse all of you, but also so Tracey, Matt, and Shun could get the whole story. As previously stated, I was suffering from my usual post-treatment miseries, so my voice was mostly shot and talking was torture.