Stranger Shit

A few days ago, three shows dropped just before Memorial Day weekend. We were all so excited for them too. Shoresy (on HULU), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney+), and Stranger Things season 4 (on Netflix). One of these was actually worth waiting for, and that was Shoresy, the Letterkenny spinoff. I might go into it later, but it’s basically like a feel good sports movie (think Goon, Remember the Titans, Friday Night Lights) that has been infused in a Tim’s Double-Double for like five weeks. It’s good. It has an awesome soundtrack. I laughed outloud throughout the whole thing and I liked nearly all of the characters. It left behind the silly Letterkennyisms for the most part which I think have hurt that show. It was just a good watch.

Kenobi is more of just polishing that same turd the Prequels left us with. Ewan MacGregor carries the show on his back like a bantha. Mary Sue Organa is too precocious and once again they bent the rules of what we know about Star Wars…you know what? Fuck it. I don’t care anymore. Between the fans of the franchise who think it’s all real and the movies, there isn’t much else left to like about the series other than whatever the hell Mando is up to with Baby Yoda. Go nuts, b’ys.

So, my rant comes to Stranger Things, which as far as I can tell is just a fan fiction of the 80s through the lens of millennials who watched too many 80s movies growing up. They have once again applied their own sensibilities and romanticism to an era they hardly understand. They researched the time through painstakingly scouring old Speilberg VHS tapes and episodes of the Goldbergs. This season they threw in some Dazed and Confused to appeal to the stoners. Season one was great, then it fell off. By Season 4 we have a steaming pile of dogshit that has gone over budget with special effects, and hired the Woke Squad as the writers room. As Shoresey would say “Ho-leee…”

This is what I mean by Woke. I get inclusion, I get agency, all of that. But when you choke your sensibilities down everyone’s throat you get the same sorts of stereotypes you were trying to avoid. There isn’t one single likable character in this show right now. I finished episode two last night and I don’t even like Dustin or Steve very much. There is no chemistry. Nothing.

One of the things that bothers me the most is the character of Robin, who is a gay highschool girl and is very open about this fact with her buddy Steve. Yes, there are gay people in the world, and I’ve known lesbians who are just as vocal at talking about women they are crushing on as any high school boy. Now. Not in 1986.

That was at the height of the AIDS epidemic. People were getting the shit beaten out of them for maybe being homosexuals. Usually they weren’t! Our nation’s leaders were saying they were getting what they deserved with a slow agonizing death too. It was a scary time for gays in America, especially in the midwest. Robin in real life wouldn’t have so much as breathed her sexual preference outloud much less trying to chat up the pretty girl in band. It wasn’t like it is now! Things have changed a LOT since 1986.

The bullies are stereotypical bullies too, with the LaCoste shirts and blonde hair and mean girl tropes. The rollerink scene was an orchestration of some bullying that introduced the requirement of empathy when Eleven just snaps and she’s supposed to feel bad about retaliation, when most people in the 80s would have wondered why it took her so long to break that girl’s nose.

With a package covered in Soviet postage, Joyce would have wound up on a watch list with a white van parked in front of her house until 1991.

Then they jumped all over that Satanic Panic bullshit too with the DnD kid being suspected of murder and everyone freaking out. Nobody really cared back then about Dungeons and Dragons. Only the churches said anything, and the pastors shouting about summoning demons were on their third extramarital affair anyway. The congregation who actually took them seriously were probably waiting in line to be next, or so painfully naive in their social structures that they were too busy selling Shackley to do anything about their kids. They did NAIL the types of people who would be found sitting around a table in HS like that. But I rarely…RARELY saw anyone who could be considered a drug dealer playing RPGs. Stoners hung out with stoners and anybody dealing was likely already dropped out by then because they were making some money. What I’m saying is they didn’t DM campaigns. And in the 80s, nobody was calling horse traquilizer “Special K.” In 1986, there was coke, crank, weed, and pills. I doubt Hunter Thompson was even experimenting with ketamine yet. Maybe Timothy Leary.

Plus, the show is goddamn slow. Vegna or Vecga or Lou Bega, whatever the monster is called this season is creepy as hell and the damage he does is on Kronenberg levels of body horror. To that, I say, you had my curiosity, but now you have my interest. But the rest of it, from Nancy’s “journalist” assistant, Freddy(?) who is just Waldo, copied and pasted out of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” video to Eddie, who is the crazy stoner NOBODY would want to hang out with unless they were already so burned out…well, you see where I’m going with this. For being Woke and all, there is no GenX agency or representation here. Which is no fucking surprise. It’s sorta what makes us GenX.

It’s millennials playing dress up from their parent’s old clothes closet. This season isn’t even fun. The nostalgia is just sublimated tripe extracted in concentrated doses and injected into a corpse of a franchise that people enjoyed for a while until the kids got older and creepy looking, which is a factual representation of what happened to all of those 80s child stars.

As GenZ kids would say…Cringe.

So, watch Shoresy and give yer balls a tug, titfucker.

Boba Fett…here there be spoilers

So, today I watched the last installment of the Book of Boba Fett. I’m going to catch shade for this, but Temura Morrison makes Pinoccio look less wooden. The series had potential, but what really showed what was happening was when two episodes were heavy on the Mandalorian. It showed just what could be happening with the Star Wars storytelling.

I think what they wanted to do was make Godfather II with Boba Fett, and what they did was give us Bugsy Malone. This last episode was a total mess too, with 1/3 of the run-time being everyone popping up and down like gophers going “pew pew!” with their blasters. And when the wookie was getting shot, I guess as long as someone can help him stand up, he can run at a full sprint again. This was as bad as the Mod gang episode riding their rascal scooters around Mos Espa.

By the time the rancor showed up I was thoroughly bored. Not to mention wondered how fast those things are to ride it all the way back from the Jabba the Hutt palace. Plus they riffed on King Kong. Again.

You see, I’m a Star Wars nerd going waaaaaay back. And that little antennae on Boba Fett’s helmet isn’t just to aim his backpack rocket. It’s a communicator for remote control with Slave I. Guy has a starship he could have called up at any moment and blasted people, but instead he’s going to get like four guys to fight the pyke syndicate with pistols.

You know what other muscle Mando could have called in? Cara Dune, Bill Burr, hot swamp town lady, Ahsoka, friggin Luke Skywalker, Apollo Creed, Bo-katan and a shit ton of Mandalorians. Instead we get another rip off of the Magnificent Seven. Which is itself a ripoff.

And why he didn’t see a doublecross from the town crime bosses is beyond me. Mediocre!!!

Almost every moment that was played for suspense fell totally flat. They telegraphed so many moments I just wondered who the hell directed this. Alan Smithee?

Thank goodness we had two Mando episodes to bring us up to this. Those two made sitting through the other five sorta worth it.

There’s a whole thing about Disney making something cannon while undoing cannonical storylines. I miss Shadows of the Empire because it showed how formidable Boba Fett really was. It took me days to beat that boss. In this he has just made stupid decisions, acted like a big old softy, and shed big old bantha tears over his buddies the sandpeople. Guy lived with them for five years…and never bothered trying to get his shit back or get offworld in that time? I guess he just had to get his head together. Those black mellons he was chugging must have been like cannibis or something, because he had zero motivation to do anything other than ride speederbikes and learn how to fight with a stick.

I like that Amy Sedaris keeps saying what all the GenX fans are thinking. “Grogu? That’s a terrible name! I’m not calling you that!”

Baby Yoda has more chemistry with literally any other character than Temura Morrison has with any other character. He might be having fun, but he’s playing the guy who plays Jango Fett at Comicon instead playing of Boba Fett. They should have made him (and the writing staff) watch Godfather 1&2 and Miller’s Crossing on a loop for a month before attempting this bullshit. It’s hard to make Jake Lloyd look like a method actor. Mission accomplished.

Boba Fett had no character arc, no pathos, and here’s the biggest thing that you can’t unsee once you figure it out:

The original trilogy and even the prequel shitshow had one thing in common: No flashbacks. None. Even Rogue One (which I did like) only had a prologue that showed what had happened to the protagonist when she was a kid. Same with Solo Cup. But the last three movies (which had their great moments, but also their awful ones in my opinion) all used flashbacks for exposition. The Book of Boba Fett was arguably nothing but flashback exposition. Mando had like 30 seconds of flashback of when he was a foundling. The rest was all, high-stakes, this is really happening right now storytelling, which gets you more invested with the characters when you realize they might die at any moment.

Some stories can rely on flashback and do an amazing job. If you’ve ever seen Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, for instance, you’ll see that the events of the Seven Days of Fire are done in a way that is chilling and moves the story along. Boba Fett was a guy in his undies in a bacta tank for four episodes, reeling in the years of shitting in the sand with the tusken raiders and microdosing DMT lizards.

I’ll tune in for more Mando, but with The Book of Boba Fett, it failed in one critical moment: you actually have to like the characters to be invested in the story. Which is why I think the Expanse sucks.

I blame Carole %!^&^$ Baskin

I really don’t.

I don’t know who the hell Carole Baskin is. But what I can say is today has been fraught with interruptions. I guess I’m just a popular guy to talk to today. It has been this way since about 6:50am, and so far it shows no sign of letting up.

One call after the next. One text after the next. And let’s not forget about the emails from people at work. You know, the profs who are such brilliant thinkers in their field who can’t even be arsed to provide any details on their “URGENT” requests, forcing me to have to look that stuff up.

They are in for a rude awakening in a month when we are all gone.

My son is doing his schoolwork right now on the other computer and jeez, it just sounds like a lot of busywork. Modules that talk down to kids. Infotainment at its best. It makes me want to stick my head underwater until the bubbles stop coming up.

One of the things I remember from being a kid was knowing when I was being patronized. I always hated it. It made me feel incredibly guilty whenever my mom would buy some kind of summer math or reading workbooks and I would thumb through them and see nothing but pandering and patronization. “Let’s make it swell for the kids! They’ll really dig this groovy scene!”

Fuck. Off.

I just couldn’t even stomach those things because they were so out of touch, so hokey, and just close enough to what kids my age were actually interested in, but so generic it felt…wrong.

“Star Wars is big! Let’s put a rocket ship on this. Not a cool looking rocket. No, a big bulbous one with lots of soft edges just in case kids are scared of rocket ships.”

“You mean a friendly rocket ship?”

“Yes! Exactly! You’re going places, Johnson!”

“Then we’ll make it more recognizable to minorities.”

“I have just the thing: Maria has three serapes. If she trades her serapes to N’dugu for his six cassowary feet, what is the current rate of exchange?”

“My heart is swelling with such cultural relativity.”

“Wait until I tell you about Jamal and Ling!”

It’s almost endearing to see the effort educators try to put into this stuff. Until it isn’t. It reminds me of how ducks must feel when they float up alongside a decoy and think just seconds before they are blasted, “Somethin’ ain’t right with this guy…”

I think when these modules are made, scads of educators who don’t have kids or were never kids themselves must just be throwing up the high fives like a big bulbous rocket ship just cleared the launchpad to go to Taffy Planet.

Next rant will probably be about how law enforcement agencies still believe 1980s Glenn Frey songs bear any meaning in the lives of people driving on the roads today.

“The Heat is On!”

If I ran the world, my PSA would be, “Hey! Shithead! Put down your phone and fuckin’ drive!”