Saturday, January 29, 2011

The exciting PA world of Eccentric Mac.

I will start out with this plain and straight forward statement: The Road Warrior is one of my favorite all time movies. I think it's one of the all around finest action movies ever filmed. Dark and brutal, it is one of the works that has inspired me in my writing. If you haven't seen it, you should. But only after you figure out how you've managed to miss a film that's nearly 30 years old and has been a stable of cable-tv since the 1980s.

I'm not the only one who was turned on by this movie. People all over the world rip this classic off. I'm sure I've seen at least two Italian movies that were 'inspired' by Mad Max. Gangs of roving bikers stalking the wastelands and attacking settlements.

And now I've found an American film. One that was so far reaching that none of the actors have pictures up on the IMDB. Most of the actors, the ones who had careers after this, went on to minor roles in TV shows. They were the lucky ones.

Land of Doom (1986) Now for my catch phrase – this is gonna hurt.

Land of Doom. Catchy and accurate title for a rather depressing place. Depressing? Yeah, that's the word I'm looking for. I don't know exactly where this thing is set. Europe? Doubt it. Most of the survivors have American accents, the majority of which are clearly Standard Midwest with a few southerners thrown in. But then there are inexplicable characters who just have random European accents thrown in. As if they just appeared in the American Southwest(that's what the landscape resembles) just in time to be raped by/ flee from a band of maniacs in leather.

They all seem to be in the just picking up the pieces phase of the apocalypse.

The movie opens up with a wonderful little scene of a town being attacked. Marauding bandits, some of which seem to be mutants, are literally raping, murdering and burning the inhabitants. Mostly in that order. Skip the Hot Piece of Ass jokes please. But yeah, they're having themselves a grand old time. The Villagers, not so much so. The whole being raped and murdered thing you know. All by guys in leather harnesses and shoulder pads. That is the uniform. Black leather harnesses and shoulder pads that are studded with steel spikes. Why? I have no clue. They like to sweat a lot and smell like ass as the sun fries their skin? Do they at least remember to put on suntan lotion to prevent pre-mature wrinkling? Probably not. These bad boys live hard and fast. I guess it's a good thing for them that all the women of the post-apocalyptic future are attractive and young. How does that work? The men are mostly hideous, borderline mutants. But the women? Totally Bangin'.

There is no point during the movie where the bandits are chasing a fleeing woman, and catch her and turn her around to find a the very likeness of Ron Jeremy's twin sister causing them to say “Dude, go ahead, I think I'll pass.” No, they get all the lingerie models and cheerleaders that they can tackle. Maybe this is the Hooters Girls Apocalypse.

And then there are the random masks and helmets! Why? Who has time to cast a pig mask out of black plastic? Or the chrome helmet. They have to be hella-uncomfortable under the sun.

This is where we meet the main character. The Man-Hating Amazon. She's tough, blond and bad-assed. Good with a knife or a gun. When the 'pocalypse comes, I want one like her(sans the hang-ups on my sex. I'll pass on the 'if you look at me funny I'll neuter you' mindset. Really I'd like the 'come here and feel by large perky breasts, they're so touchabaly soft!' attitude. In fact, that's what i'm looking for here and now). She just hates men. A lot. In fact, her first act is to kill one of the bikers. Tally-Ho! Ho's tally is one so far. Oh yeah, I went there. Actually, of the heros (there are three by the end of the film) she's got the highest body count, and she isn't afraid of getting down and dirty with a knife. Put her in a metal bikini and I'd have my love interest!

This brings me to my first question. In these movies, why don't the roving biker gangs ever take home any of the women? That's like the oldest rule of human warfare. You kill the men in a rival village and then carry off the woman to become your brides. This makes sense on a biological and historical basis, since women can usually only have one child at a time, and if you're in a society that is constantly fighting, you're going to need more children to fill the ranks. The larger the population, the more powerful you are. Simple logic and numbers. Else, there's a lot of circle jerk action going on.

It rather sucks to be a woman in that kind of world, with the being dragged off to a new society and enslaved and raped. But at least they didn't stick a sword in you, so you're still alive. You live to fight another day, and maybe find happiness, because where there is life there is hope. My philosophical sentiment for the day.

Moving on. Amazon kills the fat marauder and flees the village. Where she comes to a cave and meets hero number two. I wasn't really paying attention to that part to get the specifics, but if the rest of the movie is anything to judge, there was a lot of walking. Boring, pointless walking. More walking than in all 12 hours of Lord of the Rings combined. Except when they ride the motorcycle.

Hero number two. He's the rugged yet sensitive. His goal is world peace and he really cares about showing Amazon that not all men are killing machines that violate every living creature that they encounter. Not to mention that he's wounded, which must be working on her maternal instincts. I tell ya, get a woman to nurse you back to health after you're left to die by a gang of bikers and she's halfway yours.

Too bad Amazon threatens to cut his balls off and kill him should he even think about stroking her golden hair. Oh I bet it smells so delightful, like flowers in the spring, or murder. So, she's slightly unbalanced with a tendency to get all stabbity, and he's a hippie. Wasn't that the idea behind Dharma and Greg?

Her first reaction to finding the dirty hippie is to let him fuck off and die. But, through the use of his rugged good looks and hippiesh charm, he's able to convince her to let him tag along.

The Amazon and Moonflower now begin their travels together, and roughly every fifteen steps they run into some random encounter or another. First they are found by Mr. Giggles. The tracker who laughs with every line of dialogue you feed him. Yeah, that guy. He's fun at a party, until his best friend snaps and strangles him. Well, as is the running theme here, Moonflower gets himself incapacitated, and Amazon has do do all the dirty work. It would seem that gender-roles have changed slightly since the big blast. Refreshing that. It's nice to see more women getting involved in the whole mass murder-bit.

They at least have the sense to gank Giggle's bike. As much good as it does them, as Amazon doesn't really like to cuddle. With the whole “I'll kill you if you touch me” routine, that must have been an awkward ride. Especially on that bike with all the extra metal welded onto the frame. Why do they do that? It can't make the ride any smoother, and most of it must just get in the way. No matter, it is the future and before long they're out of gas and back on foot.

Which is where they hit up random encounter number two. The French Chef. Frenchie is a master with the ingredient euphemistically known as “Long Pig”. He's a creepy bastard, as are all of his numerous brothers. I'm guessing that they're brothers, that's what the conversation implied. Though they all have different accents. There's Bayou Billie and The Texan too. Maybe they were seperated at birth and then found each other completely randomly after the bombs started dropping. Now there's a back story I'd like to explore further. Alas, we have to move on.

Here's another thing I don't understand. You have a maniac French chef who is looking at the woman and vocally implying that he would love to get his rape on. I wouldn't have been all surprised if he had just come out and said “I Wanna Rape me some of that!” about the Amazon. But there he is. He kills travelers and eats them. You've defeated him and tied him up. He threatens revenge, pain and misery. Do you just leave him there? I mean, Kudos for using rope. But I think a knife across the windpipe would suit better in this situation. The dude is clearly someone you don't want running around. Keep that in mind, if you overpower a French hillbilly Cannibal in the post-apocalyptic world, do us all a favor and just kill the bastard. Really, you can see why Amazon hates men. They didn't need to make her come out and say it straight, but they did, just to be sure we all caught it.

Next, they run into the main pack of bikers. I don't see why these guys are really a threat. Two of them clearly can't control their bikes, and one manages to drive his ass off a cliff. Not during a chase scene mind, he just goes over the cliff while not paying attention. These guys make the Three Stooges look competent. They're dumb. Even their leader. They fall for the Amazon's smokey glances and 'come-hither' motions. Which gets at least one killed.

then they meet Yakov Smirnoff's unattractive brother. In post Apocalyptic Soviet Union Mutant Biker gang gets raped by you. Sorry, law of the internet requires that any reference to Yakov Smirnoff is followed by a Yakov Smrinoff style “joke”. In post Apocalyptic Soviet Union jokes laugh at you. Yakov has a puppy and he seems to be a musician. The only explanation to him is that Amazon declares that he talks funny. After that, he sort of joins the party to become hero number three.

There are themes in this movie, ones that they keep returning to in this movie. One is that hippies are useless. Yes, for like the seventh time in the span of some 60 minutes, the odd-couple is captured again and brought back to the Bike-cave for the ritual violation and tea-time.

Ok, now we shall introduce the leader of the Bikers. He makes an appearance earlier in the movie, but that doesn't really matter since he doesn't have much of a part. He leaves most of the grunt work to his underlings while he stays at home with his Harm. The Villain? Think of a blonde, male version of Queen Gedren from Red Sonja. With the mask covering one side of his face. And the narcissism and petty tyranny. He also has giant poofy hair. I think he perms or something. Or sticks his finger in an electric socket. That's only the beginning of the man's fashion sense. In addition to the mask and cape, somehow he's found platemail, but only for his left arm. Shiny chrome platemail. As if the studded black leather wouldn't be bitch enough to wear in the desert sun, the dude is also wearing metal. Vain and stupid, not a good combination in your leader. Throw in some megalomania and you have a standard comic book villain.

Also there's a lot of running away because he's a giant pussy. This dude failed to read the Evil Overlord list. He neither fights like a man or like an evil overlord. He just gets his ass kicked by a hippie. But more on that later.

He gives Amazon a choice. Be the newest addition to his Harem or service the entire leather and bondage club. She kicks him in the goonies and spits on him. Damn I love that crazy bitch. This of course means that she's going to be given to the minions for the Number Six dinner after they finish flaying Moonflower. Re-enter Yakov.

The pen-ultimate fight scene is poorly shot with a bunch of close-ups of people running around in a cave. Yakov hooks up with some Jawas and then bursts in waving a glorified bic lighter while Moonflower takes on Queenie in a wrestling match that some might describe as FABULOUS! I don't know where the Jawas came from. That was never explained. They just appeared, and then disappeared. Maybe the movie was expecting that people had already seen Starwars and knew what the Jawas were all about. Too bad they live on a planet without any droids. Just dudes in bondage gear.

All of this is set to music that would have fit absolutely perfectly in an 80s game show for the final countdown. Rocking.

What I don't understand is where these new weapons come from. They carry everything from pointed sticks to phasers. Civilization has collapsed and most of our greatest technology has disappeared, but they still managed to modify a sten-gun that makes mountains burst into flame. This is what's wrong with humanity. Enough with the death-rays, and focus your mind on really kick-ass robot butler.

What did we learn from this movie?

Well, chastity belts might come in handy during the apocalypse.

Humanity will come out on top after the Bovine uprising and wear the trophies. But the cost was heavy, breaking the planet and the sanity of our species.

Get yourself a Knife-wielding women with a grudge against the male half of the species. She'll get you out of tight spots.

Rope rules, but sometimes a knife across the throat is a better choice.

In Post-Apocalyptic Soviet Union, comic relief saves you.

If you make something really good, hacks around the world will try and cash in on your idea. And generally fail.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Their arrows shall block out the sun.

The English Longbow is one of Medieval Europe's most deadly weapons. The powerful bow, in the hands of a skilled archer, could launch an arrow hundreds of feet across a battlefield, and then punch through steel plate armor when it fell back to Earth, sending on even the most powerful knight to push up the daisies. The English would rain thousands of arrows down on the heads of their enemies. All until the French finally wised up and stayed inside of their castles and the longbow was superseded by firearms.

Ben Franklin wanted to use massed bows against the English during the Revolution, in place of expensive Muskets and the hard to acquire gun powder. The American Continent had tons of trees, so why not make powerful bows out of them and wipe out the English with their own ancient weapons?

Good question Ben. The answer? Well, Archery isn't an easy skill to master. With firearms such as the muskets of the period, all one would really need to do was to point a loaded weapon in the general direction of the enemy and pull the trigger. Range and accuracy were both dismal, but it was a weapon that was easy to learn to operate, especially when battles were fought with large blocks of soldiers just hammering away at one another.

By comparison to become proficient with the English longbow takes years of careful training.. Years, maybe even decades to master. The English Peasants were required by law to start their training in childhood and practice weekly as required by law. The longbow was the weapon of farmers and other peasants. Men who built up enormous physical strength to draw back the string, not just once but dozens of times over the course of a battle.

I've tried shooting a bow a couple times. And to use an old saw, if it weren't for gravity, I wouldn't be able to hit the ground. Yeah, it isn't nearly as easy as it looks. Pull back string, hit target. Try this, pull back string, drop arrow, curse, pick up arrow, put arrow back on string, drop again. Repeat. Finally, pull back string, release, miss target, lose arrow. Swallow rage. Go back inside and drink.

It's a fun sport I tells ya.

Why bother with a bow then? When it requires all that work? When there are firearms just lying about? Ever try and make a single round of ammunition for that 12 gauge shotgun? Huh? Now that takes know-how. A combination of chemistry and mechanics and metallurgy. Most human cultures were able to tie some rope to a branch and create a working bow and arrow system. How many of them went on to manufacture Repeater rifles?

Here's a great primer on what you need to make a bow using a sapling. Though it does

Global Warming: Man, I just don't have a positive view of humanity, must be, since most of my reasons for picking up these skills are martial in nature. Well, getting your hands on a lithe young sapling to create a bow might be difficult at best. Don't get me started on the arrows. But bows can be made out of other substances besides wood. Bone and sinew from animals were used to make wonderfully powerful bows in the early days of civilization. Anyhow, why use one? Well, ever heard of the phrase “Slower than wet gun-powder”? Yeah, guns, and all of their components don't respond well to moisture. Moisture of which the sea is largely comprised. Then again, neither do bows or their strings. Damn it, you might want to just go Medieval and stick with swords. But swords will rust. Fuck you nature!

Alien invasion: Oh yeah. Bows against blasters. A cage fight between the most primitive weapons known to mankind, and the most advanced. Those slags and chigs don't stand a chance. Especially if someone remembers to bring along their copy of Poor Man's James Bond to the party. Specifically that section about making exploding arrow heads. Picture it, a beefy sweaty dude with a speech impediment and a severe case of PTSD, running through the woods 'sploding skin-jobs with his wacky bag of arrow grenades. All of our movies have taught us one thing, a lone ex-special forces maniac running through the woods half-naked and with the simplest weapons can take down the most bad-assed of foes. Worked in the Rambo movies. And in Predator, you can't forget Predator, in fact, Predator proved that we need to abandon all of our hifalutin tech for mud and spears. LONG LIVE ARCHERY! DOWN WITH THE SPLOOGIES! 4/5

I don't feel the need to expand further. I don't think that there's anywhere else to go. After civilization collapses we'll regress a bit, and firearms will become largely worthless. But that's ok, because exploding arrows are easy to make! Rambo was right on the awesomeness of using a bow. As a whole the weapon is nearly silent compared to an off the shelf model of any firearm.

< scenario >

He heard the roar of the motorcycles long before you catch that glint of sun on the chrome of the leader's gas-tank. Ten, twenty, thirty. More. Roll into the little village that you made your home after weeks of wandering. Empty and safe, but most importantly there were no memories there. Just a blank slate. One helped by the well stocked saloon where you finally made your residence.

All that changed as the gang of hyenas tore into your territory, their weapons speaking with thunder as they smashed windows and ransacked the stores along main street. The noise. They each and every man, and most of the women, were armed. With bellows of laughter they stripped the furniture shop of anything that would burn and piled their booty into a hill in the middle of the street. Smoke and a red glow greeted the stars as the twilight gave way to full night.

Fire was their god. And they worshiped the flames with drunken revelry that would make Pan himself blush and turn his head in disgust. And worse. Not all of the figures below were members of the gang. Some were being dragged off into the shadows that flickered and danced at the edge of the fire's glow. Most seemed too shocked to resist.

He grit his teeth as his hand reached for his bow. Two full quivers. He needed to make every single shaft count.

< /scenario >

And, if you manage to take down a whole effin roving biker gang, one that's armed with machine guns, using just your bow - well that just elevates you to a whole new level of badassery. One inhabited by the likes of Godzilla, Bruce Lee and Superman.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Peter Piper picked a plethora of pesky padlocks.

What I love about most post-apocalyptic scenarios is the empty(mostly) cities that are scattered about the landscape. I can't wait. I'll finally be able to do some urban exploring without running into the possibility of being pinched for trespassing. What's the downside here? Doors. Doors with locks on them. As I've yet to learn the art of transubstantiation, my only options are break a window or to get around the lock. Breaking windows and kicking down doors tends to be loud and conspicuous. You'll draw a lot of attention to yourself. Not good when the streets are crawling with gangs of nazi bikers. Or zombies. Or Zombie Nazis And then what will you do? You just broke the only barrier between your sorry self and the hordes of the Dead Reich.

Dummy. A little stealth goes a long way.

Lock Picking is a very specialized set of skills. With them the master will have the ability to manipulate the tumblers inside a lock and thus get it to release. Here's a decent primer on it, with pictures and video about how locks work. Mind, possessing lock-picking tools is generally, at best, in a legal grey area, at least here in the USA. Most states lock-picking sets are, like say a crowbar, completely legal. Unless you intend to use them. So, you're probably ok,

It appears that some sites sell starter sets for as little as twenty dollars a pop. A search of Amazon brings up nothing useful. So I once again question the legality of the picks, especially since Amazon sells knives, swords, and night-vision goggles. As well as books on making explosives.

Be sure to check your local ordinances before further exploration of the subject.

One of my favorite television heroes is a whiz with his set of lock-picks. Shall we repeat his mantra? Yes, lets. “Work the lock, don't think about the undead radioactive bikini-babes/bee-shooting dogs/Staypuft marshmallowman . Work the Lock.” Have you guessed who he is? None other than the mustachioed Private Investigator, Thomas Magnum. His example has inspired me and my dreams. Not only do I want to learn how to pick locks and flaunt the law, I also want to sleep with a different girl every week, free-load in a mansion in Hawaii, drive someone else's Ferrari and sponge off of my friends whenever I need help. As I already have the chest hair, I think that the first step in achieving my dream is learning how to work a set of picks. Or maybe growing a mustache.

God, I'm gonna need to get a load of ugly Hawaiian shirts. But there are always sacrifices to be made to get those things we all want.

Here's to dreams!

Global Warming – As I always picture these scenarios to resemble the Kevin Costner movie WaterWorld, where people are floating across the vast stretches of ocean, unable to find land, I'm not too sure how useful being able to pick locks will be while living on a boat. A boat that probably doesn't have too many locks. Then again, some of our buildings are rather tall, and at least a few of them will rise above sea level like veritable Rocks of Gibraltar. If that's the case, with a little needle-work, you too will be able to have yourself a nice oceanside apartment! 2/5

Any other scenario that involves relatively intact modern buildings (which is most of them) – I think I've already made my case for this. Hell, I think I even managed to inspire some of you to grow a mustache and wear Hawaiian shirts. Those will really help when you're hiding from Zombie Hitler. And if they do find you, odds are that they won't want to eat someone gay enough to combine a mustache and Hawaiian shirt into one style. Nazis are funny like that.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Netflix is my dealer. Revised.

Gangland. 2000.

I do love the post apocalyptic and dystopian genres. Almost as much as I love to state the obvious. Movies, books, comics or daydreams. Whatever takes me away to a time after civilization has fallen. I like the idea of scavenging deserted cities in a post-apocalyptic future. Cities where only gangs roam. Zombies, or plagues, or alien invasions. Blah, blah blag. I'll give just about any title in the genre a go. This is a sickness, I know. Netflix doesn't help either. They have tons of movies available any time of the day. Netflix is one horrible enabler for a sad wretch like myself. Oh baby, just one more hit for me before I hit the road.

Hell, do it in Lego and we'll be good.

Add this to the fact that I have netflix, and the ability to stream many low budget films instantly. It has to be low budget too, since in most cases the Post-Apocalyptic genre is at the fringes of popular culture. I have to imagine that it's difficult to get proper funding. Still, Gangland had some sort of budget to work with. It wasn't large, but they were a professional crew, and not a bunch of amateur college students.

Gangland starts out with some stock footage of nuclear weapons going off. There's a monologue about the war and how it ended with the bomb, and then an onset of Ebola mutated by the radioactive fallout. Good times. Civilization is collapsing as the police are no longer able to keep control due to attrition of their numbers and the rise in gangs. That's right, the gangs have united and taken over the cities all across the country. Bet you didn't see that one coming.

You got all of that? We're not moving too fast for you here? Gangland is a combination of Mad Max and Warriors. Or maybe Surf Nazis Must Die (though I only managed to watch a half hour or so of Surf Nazis before my brain rebelled.)

Made in 2001, and set approximately 10 years in the future (or last summer), Gangland is a film about war, plague and the break down of human society and how individuals cope. Or at least I think that might be what the writers are telling themselves. Really, the movie seems to ask the age old question. “How many shirtless, muscular dudes can we stuff into leather pants and get on-screen at one time?” The answer, a lot. There are only a few token female breasts (mostly slaves and implied rape victims) and most of the rest of the screen-time is filled with big beefy men. I think that somewhere along the way in the production process a gay man saw 300, and said “I want to do that, but with bikers!” - though there is a major hole in my theory. 300 came five years later. Clearly someone on the team felt that there wasn't nearly enough softcore gay porn available in the world.

Honestly, the more I think about it, the more it seems that Gangland was wrangled by a crew who cut their teeth in porn. In addition to the beefy, mostly naked dudes, they throw in a couple of hot sex-slaves of the Asian persuasion. I think this can be seen as a definite precursor to the later film 300, where the director throws in a red herring to disguise the fact that the audience is viewing Gay Porn. Asian girls in mini-skirts? People running around in leather? Definite Fetish Film!

The movie is littered with symbolism. I don't mean riddled. I mean littered. Someone opened up a proverbial can of symbols and then drenched the script with it. What's a can of symbols? Well it's sort of like a can of whup-ass, only it smells a lot like a jar of Mayo that's been sitting in the sun for a week. To start out we have a conflict between Coolio and Ice T. This would be a bit like pairing Cheech Moran with Danny Trejo. Not quite, but close. They're portraying police officers just as the works is really going to hell. One is still a good cop, while the other is becoming corrupted and evil. The beginning of Gangland is almost like an analogy of the Hiphop industry during the 90s. Down to the street brawl that wraps it up!

Enter Lucifer, the new King of Los Angles. The story takes place in LaLaLand, where most of the characters seem intent on fleeing (that is, all non-gang members) to Phoenix. Get it? Oh yeah, that's American subtlety at it's best! But at least they try to add some sub-context. They were thinking about about injecting some deeper meaning into their story. Better luck next time guys, but damn good effort.

Ok, I can accept all of this. I can suspend disbelief, this is how I managed to enjoy Ghosthunters. It's why I watch movies in the first place, to be whisked off to a fantasy world and entertained by the story, if only for a little while. But the movie takes place in Los Angeles. Why are ALL of the gang members white? This is LA, home of the Crips and Bloods. Latinos make up half of the population of the city. Blacks and Asians each make up another ten percent. Where are all the people of color? If the movie was shot in LA, they should have had plenty of available talent. LA is crawling with non-white gangs.

Back is the Harry Potter Heroic Lineup. One smart woman. One slightly above average man as the leader. One really dumb guy to play sidekick to slightly above average man who's the leader. That's ok, since the heros are pitted against utter retards. How can it tell? Imagine you're in a violent street-gang that runs the city and kills civilians for pleasure. You encounter a couple unarmed dooffi(the plural for doofus), on a bridge, standing next to a overheated car. Your gang decides to toy with them a bit, but the doofi show spunk and show their mad kung fu skills. Do you:

A. Join the fray with your bare hands and out Bruce Lee them!
B: Find a stick and go in swinging!

Guess what happened? Guess. Yeah. It got worse, the scene ended tragically with a slow motion extended “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” sequence on the part of one of the heroes. I laughed at this. Does that make me a bad person? There was another point that I laughed at the big dumb guy, at the finish of another scene that was meant to be traumatic. I can't help it, he was one of those dudes who kept up a running commentary, talking and talking, no matter that he had nothing to say. Fuck him, says I, fuck him with a chainsaw wrapped in barbed wire.

The heroes aren't much better than the villains. They were facing a psychopathic gang of thugs who were terrorizing a city. A gang that spent its time slaves and raping and murdering all over the place and generally carrying on ugly. What tactic do the heroes choose? Shoot them in the face so that they can't continue their reign of terror? Nay Nay. Cut their throats with a knife. Never! That might be messy! They just choose to beat the gangsters into submission and then run away.(In fairness, fearless leader did use the dreaded cock-punch technique once) That of course is unless they have a gun. Then they just shoot wildly, firing hundreds of rounds without ever re-loading. I believe in the final confrontation with Lucifer, the Light-Bringer is armed with naught but a six-shooter. After firing at least fifteen rounds, he's overcome and performs his loud and dramatic death, all to the tune of firing another eight shots.

Finally there was the big girl fistfight where Hermione met her nemesis. A statuesque woman clad in tight leather. Because tight leather is the ideal clothing for fighting in. There's no real explanation for any of this. They didn't meet previously, so there's no feud between them that has become more bitter with each encounter. They just randomly meet in the woods and throw down like a couple of men, trading punches and kicks. At no point does either of the combatants go for a titty. Never. Sure that might hurt the actresses, especially since Nemesis clearly is sporting an excess of silicone. One punch and she's down for good. Maybe Hermione ain't so bright after all. Of course intelligence is rather relative, and she's smarter than her two companions.

I think that the writers had a bit too much material for 90 minutes, and had to cut some of the character development. Because man, those boring fight sequences take a lot of time, as the actors keep repeating the same moves over and over and over again.

Clearly Gangland was about 15 years too late. It should have been made in the mid-eighties where it would have been about on par. This isn't the worst movie I've ever seen. In fact it, with the exception of a couple times where I got up and got a beverage, Gangland kept my attention. So, it's entertaining, if stupid. It would have made a fine episode of MST3K.


Now, what did this movie teach us?

First, a personal lesson. If we're thrown together due to the end of the world, and you're a chatty bitch who is completely incapable of silence for protracted periods(The Big Dumb Guy from the movie). Big dumb guy, with his inability to shut the fuck up, is going to get everyone killed when he Someone who lacks a filter between your ears that prevents you from voicing every flicker of neuro-energy... Then I'm gonna shoot you. In the face. Until I'm completely out of ammunition or you're completely out of face. Whichever happens first. It's either that or you're wearing a ball-gag for the duration. Your choice.

Now for the broader view.

Martial arts. Everyone in the apocalypse seems to have some proficiency of various forms. It would seem that you either need to become a master of Drunken Style KungFu, or pretty effing good at Parkour. One or the other. Preferably both.

Nowhere that I recall was rope used in this movie. The villains used chain in their torture chamber, which is like the evil half-brother of rope. I bet that the heroes would have been much better off if they had carried a few lengths with them and tied some knots. Maybe they wouldn't have had to flee the first battle had they climbed up the side of Lucifer's fortress instead of barging through the front door. But alas, they didn't follow the teachings of Sir Charles of Bronson.

Automotive Mechanics. Big McStupid would have been in a lot better shape if either he, or his brother, knew thing one about cars. Instead, they got trapped on a bridge and molested by a biker gang. Sure, the movie would have taken a different turn. But it would have been a vast improvement.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Give a hoot, read a book.

Literacy. It appeared somewhere between the dawn of Civilization and the discovery of Sliced bread. I would be inclined to argue that it is one of the most important inventions/discoveries that we simians ever accidentally happened upon. Literacy extended the memory of our species. The written word is a work of pure genius. The ability to transcribe sounds into squiggles on a piece of paper to record your thoughts for future generations to read and understand. That's powerful.

Then some asshole had to come along and invent Slash Fiction. Rule 34. No exceptions.

I feel that I already have a decent grasp of the written word. I would guess that you all do too. Unless you're only here for the tantalizing pictures of gorgeous women that always appear along with the text. Or maybe they just like looking at the rows and rows of pretty squiggly lines. In which case, all the proceeding and following are largely irrelevant and none of this is at all useful. Making my endeavor rather ironically meaningless. How's that for comedy?

For the rest, I'm just preaching to the choir and once again it doesn't matter what I say. Take the following:

You know what I hate? Vampires. Those blood sucking freaks. What's dead should stay dead. I really can't stand how a segment of our population has decided that rapists and murderers are all of a sudden sexy. A walking corpse that devourers your very life and soul? Gimme three baby! Cold as ice to the touch? And you want me to put it where? Sounds like fun! Water rolled down his gleaming pecs as the shirtless man stepped out of the mist and into the lantern light that seemed to keep the roiling grey mass at bay. The woman in red turned to look at the newcomer, mistaking him at first, briefly, for a farmhand. His rock-hard muscles rippled with each step. He was no mere farmhand. She knew him. Well. “Lady Shelly!” He said, falling to one knee before the veiled woman in the long red dress. His eyes burned with desire for her. She away turned from him. The scoundrel! How dare he show his beautiful face! On the day of her wedding! The most wanted man in the county. The Brigand Eduardo Jones. Use a moderate quantity of a natural manure to fertilize the soil and ensure proper growth of the wheat stalks. Throw wheat seeds in the furrows using a semi circular movement of your wrist or attach a grain drill to a tractor to plant the seeds. For a dry area, sprinkle a small quantity of seeds. A heavily cultivated wheat uses up the water in the ground more quickly. SOURCE

Which of the previous mass of symbols was actually useful? Not too much I would think. Though I am sure that more of the adventures of Eduardo Jones: Highwayman of Much Repute will be vastly entertaining.

Literacy is the keystone skill in the apocalypse. Unless there were masses of mobs, worldwide, setting fire to libraries and bookstores – then there will be tons of information encoded in those millions of books. There are books to cover about every topic that the human experience has yet to experience. Farming, computers, and God, they're all there. Given time and the proper material (Not to mention sufficient motivation), a literate and half-way intelligent human being can vastly better themselves. With this in mind, I'm putting together a library. Just in case the end does come. Be prepared and all that. I also happen to really like books.

Here's a list. Some I have, others not so much so:

The Wilderness Survival Handbook
: An Illustrated and information packed book that is also relatively small in size. Easy to read and packed with information. Now I wish someone was giving me a check for pimping it. Who doesn't need to know how to navigate by land or build an impromptu shelter against the elements? You're probably going to have to travel overland sometime.

Pioneer Pottery: Basically a how to on setting up your own pot shop. This book covers everything. Are you currently exclaiming: WTF? POTTERY? Understandable. But here it is, the pottery wheel is one of the underlying supports of many human civilizations(I had several history professors utter this statement – none of them were potters themselves). Why? Simple, if you grow bumper crops of food, you're going to need storage vessels. Water Jars. And the like. When humanity tries to get together and rebuild civilization, these may be important skills to have.

The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading: It's in my wishlist on Amazon to pick up later, mostly since it hasn't been released yet. But the book looks promising and it rather inexpensive. So I have high hopes. Looks like a cross between a wilderness survival handbook and a guide to farm and country life.

Hobby Farming For Dummies: Hobby Farming is running a smallish farm that can be handled by a limited number of people part time. I don't know the exact number of acres, but it implies small scale farming. Also on my wishlist, I have not picked this bad boy up yet. The For Dummies series has always been an enjoyable and simple read.

The Art of Blacksmithing
: Not only how to make weapons and armor, but also the equally important tools and implements of every day lives. Or so I'm told. Another one in my wishlist. I look forward to learning more about blacksmithing, and to writing up a post on it's potential importance as a craft.

Poor Man's James Bond
: I've ordered this book, but have not read it yet. I imagine that the mere act of ordering it has put me onto several government watch lists as a potential terrorist. So be it, let them watch. I say that, up until the FBI knocks on my door. I can only wonder at how I'll respond. Probably with a river of urine running down my leg and puddling at my feet. PMJB is a book written for the right-wing nutjob survivalist types. I don't know how accurate it is. I don't think I'll be testing it anytime soon. So I could have just wasted a fair chunk of change. Even so, the arrow mounted grenade is pretty damn awesome.

First Aid. I don't have a suggestion here. I'm not well enough versed in the area of expertise, and medical treatment isn't a place where you want to skimp or go astray.

Energy concerns
: I don't know about you, but I enjoy our mastery over electricity and how it makes my life better and more interesting. From the simple electric light to video games, electric power pervades our daily lives. Sadly, the power grid in most places will only be functioning for about a week after any cataclysm, making electricity a scarce commodity.

The Twilight Series: Is making fun of Twilight cliché yet? I certainly hope not. I haven't had my turn! Ah well here it goes. “Why carry Twilight? Gotta burn something to stay warm.” I've never read Twilight, so I really don't like making fun of it on any deeper and more venomous level. I'm just a sheep and follow the memes. And I hope that my streak for not reading Twilight goes unbroken, maybe even becomes some sort of world record.

But, in the realm of Twilight, without actually being Twilight. By this I mean books meant to entertain, these can be as important as volumes that are intended to instruct. We're imaginative creatures and we need entertainment and stimulation.

I bet, with a little work, you can find most of this information for free on Google. Awesome. Though I think wireless hot-points will be on the far side of scarce when the end comes. Best to get those books in hard copy.