Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why Spider-Man: Homecoming was not a great movie

Photo by tsackett via Flickr

Spider-Man: Homecoming was just okay. Two reasons.*

1. It didn't make sense from the start.

I'm supposed to believe that Iron Man gave this kid a suit and let him fight in this big battle at the end of the last Avengers movie and then blew him off for a few months. For no reason. Later, he even tells him he's just not ready to be an Avenger. More later, he takes the suit back. I'm just not buying it. This was just a plot device meant to get Spider-Man on his own. It could have been handled so much better and wouldn't have had me disappointed at the outset.

Stark could have told the kid that in a few months he'd be able to spend a lot of time with him training him on all the cool stuff the suit could do. He just can't at the moment. "For now," he'd say, "could you just be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? But be careful." He'd put that Happy dude on him, but Peter would keep bugging the guy about silly stuff like a teen girl swooning over the Avengers. "What's Thor really like? Does that archer guy have anything else going for him? Is Captain America mad at me?" Etc. Happy would get so peeved, he'd stop taking Peter's calls.

And there you'd have it. Spider-Man, on his own for a while. This, of course, would mean that Iron Man couldn't come to the rescue and say "screwed the pooch" over and over again. Oh, no! Spider-Man would have to learn to battle the bad guys on his own. Yeah. That's how hero stories work.

And sure, they tried to lead into the next film having Spidey blow off the Avengers at the end thus leaving him on his own once more. But it won't work. It can't work.

Spider. Nom nom nom.
Photo by Vicki S via flickr

Because of 2. The Avengers.

I get that the Avengers are a good thing for that woman played by Scarlett Johansson and that archer dude. They're never going to be able to carry their own films. Hulk should never get another solo deal either, so good for him. Even Captain America is played, if you ask me.

But the Avengers suck for the major players--Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man--because now, when they're fighting off some epic bad guy, everyone is wondering...where are the Avengers? Why aren't they helping?

And we'll be asked to believe that Tony Stark is in London or something, even though we already know he could at least send a suit or two. Or Thor is...what...on some other planet? It's not going to work. For two reasons.

A. As stated, where they heck are the Avengers? And
B. Spider-Man (Iron Man, Captain America, etc.) can't get through a film without some other Avenger showing up to try to explain to the audience why the Avengers aren't there when they need to be, but are there at just the right spots to remind us that they exist as a unit...except during solo films.

Nope. Not going to work.

The Avengers have ruined solo films and there are too many of them to make Avengers films any good. So, we're done here.

Unless we ruin the Avengers. Send Thor back to wherever he came from and close whatever portal brought him here. (This would mean, thank the gods, that the Guardians of the Galaxy won't have to be mixed up in the mess either.)

Just kill off Natasha and that archer guy. Keep the Black Panther in Africa for the most part. (Black Panther looks like it's going to be really good. If they can just pretend the Avengers never happened to him, it will be.) Have Tony Stark's ego make him go off on his own. Drop Captain America (he's so...wholesome. Keep the videos, though. Yeah, he can do videos for the real super heroes.) And let Spider-Man be Spider-Man again.

Remember when the super heroes had their own cities? Batman was in Gotham and Superman was in...the Emerald City? I don't know or care; Superman is cheap. I know, I know they're two completely different universes, but that's the point. Give them territories or something. If you have to bring them together once in a while, fine. Fine. Just effin fine. But make it clear that it's a very unusual thing and it's not gong to happen often. And it's only really happening to give that archer guy something to do.

And then they shake hands and return to where they belong to fight evil in their own neighborhoods.

Everything will be so much simpler. And before you call me a curmudgeon bemoaning the good ole days, know this: simple stores are the best stories.

So, that's it. That's why Spider-Man is ruined.

*No. I'm not going to say "spoiler alert." If you're idiotic enough read a blog post that says it's going to tell you why a movie sucked thinking it won't contain spoilers, you don't deserve spoilers.

PS. Here's another big spoiler. I knew Michelle was going to turn out to be M.J.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sure, but can you snort a s'more?

Photo by GlitterandFrills via Flickr

I feel a little sick. It's July 6, so I'm not surprised. July 4, in case you weren't aware, is S'mores Day. I look forward to S'mores Day all year. It's the only day on which I can eat s'mores without feeling like I'm being ridiculous. Seriously. It would be like baking a cake for no reason. You can't just bake a cake in the middle of the week and eat it! You bake cakes for special occasions. And you light the grill (or let's admit it, turn on the broiler in the oven because you're too lazy and it's too hot to go outside) to toast marshmallows and slide them onto graham crackers and Hershey's chocolate bars on special occasions, too. Actually, only one special occasion: Independence Day.

That's right. Americans celebrate fireworks, bbqs, s'mores, and rebellion on July 4.

Before I get into the meat of the thing, an aside. Did you know that there are people who only use 1/4 of a Hershey bar on their s'mores? That's just not right. It even says on the 6-pack of Hershey bars that you are supposed to use an entire half of a bar per s'more. And I am nothing if not a rule follower.

The proper cracker to chocolate ratio

And even worse, some people don't like chocolate at all! I know, I know, it's unfathomable. So much so that dear Hubs believes that anyone who says she doesn't like chocolate is lying, trying to get a hipster.

So, one such person asked on her Facebook page if it would be okay to have s'mores without the chocolate. Most responses were what you'd expect--of the 'are you out of your mind?' variety. But I said that I often have s'mores without the marshmallow. It's true, on July 5 and 6, when you've got a few Hershey bars and a pack of graham crackers leftover and you really don't want to heat up the broiler (it's not July 4 anymore, after all) why not just make a chocolate sandwich? Am I right?

Not only that, most days, when you think about it, I have s'mores without the marshmallow and the graham crackers! So, who's to say you can't have them without the chocolate?

This, unfortunately, put ideas into my head.

On July 4 I had two s'mores. (That's one whole Hershey bar.) Then, on July 5, yesterday, I had two s'mores again because...leftovers. And later in the day...I saw the big bag of marshmallows on the table, just going to waste. Marshmallows don't last long in Florida. They were already starting to stick together. Something had to be done. (Not that I'm afraid to throw food out. I do it all the time. Even the faintest hint of it being old and it's in the trash.) And there were leftover graham crackers there, too.

So, well, I didn't want to turn on the broiler...again. So, I just grabbed some grahams and some marshmallows and went to town.

Oh. My. Gawd.

So good. But why wouldn't it be? I basically sat down and ate sugar.

And now I feel sick.

What's my point? It's this: somebody has invented snortable chocolate.

That's right. You snort it. Like cocaine. Like the frickin' drug that it is.

So, you could get your chocolate without the nausea, right? But what's the point? Why would you want to do that? Smelling chocolate is great, sure, when you're about to eat it. But snorting it? Where's the ooey gooey part? Where's the part where your mouth is full of chocolate and you close your eyes and smile and know that if you eat that entire pint of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream* you'll wake up in the morning with a headache and upset stomach?

What's the point of chocolate if you can't make yourself sick with it? That's what I want to know.

*There are a laughable 4 servings in a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. Ridiculous. It's at best 1 and 1/4 servings. I know, because I usually eat 3/4 of it, leaving the last 1/4 for the next day over which I have to scoop some extra ice cream to make another full serving. Anyway, there are 1,040 calories in a pint of B&JCFB ice cream.Snort that!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Beware the schemes of politicians and preachers...

photo by admiller via Flickr

Just need a lure of some kind...

Hi Jeff.

I got this weird email from you yesterday and thought I'd drop you a note. Subject line: "Hey"

Your email creeped me out. It had used-car salesman all over it. First, you called me "Friend" and I don't even know you. "Hey, Friend." Or maybe, you think my name is Friend?

Then it was all chatty and intimate. You hope I enjoyed my weekend. Was I having a great day, today? You seemed to think it was Monday, but it was Wednesday. I was all, like, wtf?

Worse, it had quite a stalker vibe to it. You know, the "Hey, you aren't opening my emails, wha's up?" I felt spied on. How do you know I'm not opening your emails and why do you care? Just how many emails have you sent to me? Were they creepy, too?

And lastly, there was this ultimatum thing going on.

I had this dentist once who insisted I visit him at least once every two years and when I missed this deadline (a deadline previously unknown to me, I might add), he sent me a fancy letter on purple paper and told me to make a damn appointment or he was going to drop me. Did I make an appointment? Nope. It was my opinion that he worked for me, not the other way around. I'll see a dentist when I please and not before.

Anyway, I didn't know who you were, Jeff, or why you were emailing me, so I looked you up and I'm still not sure. I do know that you've got quite the go-get-'em attitude. Every time I go to a different page (or back to the one I was just looking at) at your website, little boxes pop up wanting me to give you my email address. Frankly, I'm surprised your website can't see that I already gave it to you, seeing as your such a spy and all.

You are a salesman, no doubt. You want to tell me how to sell a lot of books. And you use yourself as an example. You've got a few bestsellers! But the thing is...your books are about how people can sell books. So...I'm not sure your techniques are going to work for everybody.

This makes me think of the whole "writers selling to writers" thing. Writers spend a lot of energy, it seems, seeking out other writers on social media. Let's like each other's Facebook pages. Follow each other on Twitter. And I'm all for that sort of--what do they call it?--I can't think of the word...something tawdry I bet. But I'm all for it!

I just don't think that writers are my target audience. But they're yours. Well...all creators, I think, judging by the wide net it looks like you're casting. That being said, I'm sure you have some great insights and information that would be helpful. I guess I just haven't paid much attention to your emails. I can't even find any, other than the one I got yesterday. I must have deleted them in that last purge of the trash. They couldn't have been that interesting.

But I wanted to say that a lot of people use Outlook for their email. (I'm not all that computer savvy, so I hope this doesn't make me sound expert-y.) We can read your emails without actually opening them up. But, yeah, I confess, I've probably been ignoring you. I think you're selling something and I just don't have time.

Judging by your picture at your website, you're a nice enough guy. (Though, to be honest, you've got a tad resemblance to Paul Ryan and that can't be good.)

Would this face lie to you?

I think I got a free ebook for signing up to let you email me. I'll try to find it and look at it. So little time for all the things we want to do; am I right?

But you see, there's the problem, right there, if you ask me. You offered me something, in exchange for my email address. That's pretty typical, I think, when it comes to advice on how to get people's email addresses. But as you see, it doesn't always work. I got the freebie, haven't looked at it, didn't find your subsequent emails of interest or of value, and thus, you got no follow-through. What happened?

I think I know what happened. And, as I'm working right now to launch my own email newsletter for readers and book lovers, I would like to thank you for the lesson in what not to do.

Don't try to trick people into giving you their email addresses.
Don't use a lure, as if people are fish to catch and toss into your bucket.

photo by James Palinsad via Flickr

Is this what I am to you?

Don't send people subsequent emails that bore them or have no relevance to them.
Don't try to guilt them into continuing to receive your emails after your spy metrics show they're not engaging.
Don't threaten to dump them from your list.
Don't call people "Friend." Ever. Even if they are your friends.
And don't bug people too often with your emails.

I haven't decided yet if I want to keep receiving your emails. I do appreciate that you gave me a date by which I had to make my choice.

I just wanted to let you know that I found your approach sketchy and I am wondering if it works. (Not really. I'm not going to emulate it whether it works or not.) It must work because the worst politicians and preachers use it. And they're definitely selling some pretty unappealing stuff, aren't they?

The "Hey, friend" pricks my skeptic sense every time. I think I'm going to blog about this phenomenon. Don't worry, I won't mention your name.*

That's all. Thanks,


PS. Dude, what the hell. I just got another one. Subject line: "Is everything ok?" Your neediness is creeping me out.

PPS. That's right. I'm getting ready to launch an email newsletter about books! And maybe cats and chocolate. But mostly books! Maybe other creative stuff, but only incidentally. Seriously, mostly books! So, if you're into reading, and you want a monthly newsletter about books! drop me a line and tell me you want to subscribe. I promise I won't get all creepy and needy if you ignore me.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Textures on a road trip...

As promised, textures.

pine bark

mohawk tree


through the table at the Biltmore Estate

cloth covered chair in hotel room

barbed wire atop fence

brick wall

cloth covered chair in hotel room

moss covered stone table

lights in ceiling of elevator at hotel

vase at hotel

vase at hotel

stairs at hotel

cloth covered chair in hotel lobby


up close of water bottle in car

colorful tubes on back of truck I95 south

That's all for now.

Monday, June 12, 2017

All the metaphors of Asheville remain blurred...

We took a respite from the muggy Florida heat last week and spent some time in and around Asheville, NC. It was rather cold for a native Floridian up there, even in June. And it was wonderful!

We ate at The Moose Cafe on our first morning there. It's become a tradition to eat breakfast there whenever we visit. They have huge, buttery biscuits with their homemade apple butter. Excellent stuff. And I like to get scrapple, aka liver mush. A rare treat.

We rode the Blue Ridge Parkway southwest of Asheville that first day. 

Mountain Laurel

I saw a snail.

The next day we went north on the parkway. We hiked a trail at the visitor's center where we came across this vine wrapped around a tree branch. The branch had broken off, but the vine still held on.

That's got to mean something, right? It's a metaphor. But, of what?

We explored a popular park where all the stone picnic tables were covered with moss.

Another metaphor? A sign?

Later, we stopped for lunch in Little Switzerland. I had a chicken salad sandwich and kettle chips. Hubs deemed the chicken salad frou frou, because it had apples and other stuff in it.

Then we went to Linville Falls. Just through the entrance, at the beginning of the trail, I saw what I thought was a big red berry on a tree at the river's edge. It turned out to be a fishing lure.

Here's a picture of some of the falls. It makes no sense not to show a picture even though it's not a very good one.

The next day, we visited Beaver Lake in north Asheville to look at birds. It was lovely. There were water lilies blooming on the lake.

Cute turtles on logs.

And plenty of birds.

Then it was off to the Biltmore Estate.

We explored the grounds and gardens, mostly. On our way to the Bass Pond, we saw a couple coming down a road clearly marked "no guests beyond this point." We gloated over our superior rule abiding skills. At one point, we took a trail into a meadow, then back down and around the lake and up a road. We got a wonderful view of the house from up there.

As we continued on that road, we came to a spot that made us think we weren't supposed to be there, so we wandered back down, searching for the proper trail. And what do you know? We ended up coming down the very road on which we saw that other couple breaking the rules.

Had to get a picture.

But I'm glad we did that because I got to take a very cool picture of the bamboo.

We didn't get pictures of us hanging on it like the other people did, so we're still better at rule abiding than they are. And that's what really counts.

There was a chipmunk.

On our way back to the house, we heard singing, and when we took the steps up out of the garden area, we saw a large group of young people all wearing the same shirt. I figured they were part of a school chorus.

On our last day, we visited Chimney Rock and Lake Lure. Naturally, at Chimney Rock, the elevator is not working. To get to the level where the actual rock is, you have to climb a bazillion stairs. But I managed. I am happy to say I was also able to climb the Exclamation Point Trail even though I haven't been exercising and am way out of shape. It wasn't easy, but I did it. And then we took the Hickory Nut Falls trail to the falls.

When we climbed up onto the actual rock itself, there was a group of young people there, all wearing the same shirt. And they sang The Star Spangled Banner for us. Right there on the rock under the huge American flag. It was wonderful. Too bad Donald Trump is our friggin' president. Kind of ruined the whole patriotic thing, frankly. But anyway, I tried to read their shirts and I think they were members of the American Heritage Youth Chorus. I asked them if they were at the Biltmore Estate the day before and it was them! I can't say what they think of Donald Trump.

That's the rock, there. Very American, isn't it? A huge rock penis with a flag on it. Don't believe me? Try this view:

Okay, then, moving on. I saw a caterpillar.

I don't know what kind it is. But it doesn't matter. In the gift shop there were some frighteningly weird...pots?

You have to wonder what the artist is trying to convey.

Down the mountain, in Chimney Rock Village and saw Big Foot. He's covered with craw fish. I can't imagine why. Is this another deep and poignant message?

Lake Lure was very nice. 

I saw a bunny rabbit.

Any day you see a bunny is a good day, don't you think?

Before we left, I took some pictures at the hotel. Out back, there was a fence with barbed wire on it. It was hard to see what it was protecting... Cars, I think. But I really liked the way the barbed wire looked.

This is definitely a metaphor. A symbol. A warning. Sharp. Poignant.

I'll post an album of textures and other cool shots that I found on this trip as soon as I can, hopefully right after this post. An example of textures is the picture of the bamboo above. I love stuff like that.

We had a really good time and got some great pictures of birds. You can view Our Big Year blog by clicking on it.

That was our trip to Asheville. I wonder what it all means. And will I ever know for sure?