Every Story Has an End

Day 16 of the month of Tater and I’m sure based on the title you’re thinking “Oh no. Another one of his sappy ‘feelings’ posts about death or change or something”  Good news, fake reader! You’re wrong! This is about actual stories in books, TV and movies.

I watched the series finale of Vice Principals this week. It was only on for two seasons and Danny McBride says that this was always the plan. He had a story. He told the story. The story is over. I like that. Every story has an end and it is better if the creator of that story writes the end(unless your name is George RR Martin). Too many times, a story is not allowed to end naturally. It goes on way past the natural end or it is ended early due to ratings issues.

Under the Dome was a good Stephen King book that would have been a good TV mini-series. Unfortunately, the ratings meant the network kept asking for more, so the story dragged on and on way past the natural end. The Mist, on the other hand, was a TV series that I worried would suffer the same fate, but instead, was canceled after one season mid-story. I would rather a TV show have two very good seasons and then end than go on indefinitely, even after there are decent stories to tell. Unfortunately, it is a business and driven by money, not story.

The same happens at the movies. Some movie franchises end before the story is over because of poor earnings. Some franchises(I’m looking at you, Transformers) go on way too long. Sometimes, the franchise tells the story in full but does something stupid like split a book in to two movies when one would suffice(cough, Twilight) in order to wring some more money out of the fans. Again, a creative industry driven by money, not creativity.

Alas, the same happens with books. Usually, with books it is the problem of a series going on too long. I’m not sure I need another Stephanie Plum or Alex Cross adventure, though I admit I am part of the problem because I keep reading them.  If you can keep the stories fresh, a long series is fine. John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, Connelly’s Bosch series and Crais’ Elvis Cole/Joe Pike are some examples of that. The worst offenders in the “stop already” book series are the “the author keeps writing after they are dead” series. I get the desire to finish a book if the author was close to done upon their death, but that’s about it. We don’t need more Vince Flynn books if they aren’t written by Vince Flynn. Terry Pratchett had the right idea when he directed “whatever he was working on at the time of his death to be taken out along with his computers, to be put in the middle of a road and for a steamroller to steamroll over them all” to stop people from writing “Pratchett novels” after he was gone. More authors should go this route.

Every story has to end. Please let them end naturally.

 

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My Favorite Movie Of Each Year I’ve Been Alive

I saw a post on Patton Oswalt’s Facebook about this. His was a joke, but I decided to do mine. I am taking time at lunch when I should be reading to compile the list, thus falling further behind in my reading goal. Also – I am just googling movies of each year. I might miss something.

1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

1970 Patton

1971 Dirty Harry

1972 The Godfather

1973 Papillon

1974  Blazing Saddles

1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

1976 Rocky

1977 Star Wars

1978 Grease

1979 Warriors

1980 Airplane

1981 Stripes

1982 Fast Times at Ridgemont High

1983 Outsiders

1984 Beverly Hills Cop

1985 Better Off Dead

1986 Top Gun

1987 Raising Arizona

1988 Heathers

1989 Dead Poets Society

1990 Edward Scissorhands

1991 Cape Fear

1992 My Cousin Vinny

1993 This one was tough – Tombstone edges out Groundhog Day

1994 Pulp Fiction

1995 Toy Story

1996 Scream

1997 Grosse Point Blank

1998 Waterboy

1999 Office Space

2000 Remember the Titans

2001 Shrek

2002 28 Days Later

2003 Elf

2004 Shaun of the Dead

2005 Hitch(based on the movies listed, this year in movies sucked)

2006 The Departed

2007 The Mist

2008 Gran Torino

2009 Zombieland

2010 Easy A

2011 Crazy Stupid Love

2012 Avengers

2013 The Internship

2014 Guardians of the Galaxy

2015 The Martian

2016 A lot of movies left unseen – Deadpool so far

Now, these aren’t necessarily the best movies. Just the ones I like the best. Some just based on which one I watch every time it is on TV.

 

“I Don’t Like Winona Ryder” and Other Stranger Things About My Wife

Last night my wife responded to my suggestion that we watch Stranger Things with “I don’t like Winona Ryder.” This is not quite as bad as the fact that she doesn’t like The Breakfast Club, but for me, it’s close. Heathers is one of my favorite movies ever. I also love Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands. It’s likely I would like those movies just was much with someone else in the role, but my love for those movies cemented my love for Winona Ryder long ago. I shouldn’t be surprised. I should be past the point of being surprised that she doesn’t share my pop culture loves. She likes action movies and cares more about explosions and car chases than plot and dialogue. I’m fine with action movies, but I prefer movies that have a plot and a good script. Or comedy. I also love a good, dumb comedy. She hates most comedies. I’m not sure how she can live with a guy that is full of dumb jokes.

When it comes to TV, she likes formulaic procedurals. NCIS, Hawaii 5-0, Chicago Fire, etc.  I like a good sitcom, superhero shows, medical dramas and HBO/Showtime stuff like Shameless, Game of Thrones, etc. I will admit to getting sucked in to Chicago Fire episodes when she watched them. We do share a love for The Walking Dead, though it took her a long time to admit that she liked it. She also shares my love of medical dramas and will watch Code Black with me, but refuses to watch Grey’s Anatomy. The one area where I guess I’m the weird one is binge watching. She binge watches and I like variety in my viewing.

Musically, we both like 80’s music like most people who are 80’s kids. The difference is, I will seek out new music and have found bands like Bowling For Soup. The Dollyrots, Patent Pending and Ryan Hamilton and the Traitors that I love(some claim I like them because they are 80’s like). I will also listen to The Hits station on Sirius to stay aware of what new music is out there and will pick up some new stuff that I like. She sticks to the 80’s music and has little interest in finding new stuff.

Books – I love to read and read over 100 books a year. I read a lot of different genres written for both teens and adults. She reads 1 or 2 books a year and really only wants to read medical mysteries. If there is no new Robin Cook or Michael Palmer book out, she struggles to find something to read on vacation. I think she actually prefers to just read work papers than a book for enjoyment. That is even weirder than not liking Winona Ryder.

I guess it really is true that opposites attract.

Tater Takes On Guilty Pleasures, Reviews and Anything Else That Pops Into His Weird Mind

Guilty Pleasures: I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. I read, watch and listen to plenty of things people will make fun of. I recently had that happen with my love of the Hamilton soundtrack and musicals in general. Around this same time someone mentioned something being their “guilty pleasure.” I don’t understand the concept of a guilty pleasure. If you enjoy something why would it make you feel guilty. Unless, of course, that “pleasure” is illegal or immoral. If this is the case then, yes, you should feel guilty. I freely admit to things that others would call a guilty pleasure with no shame at all. I love musicals. I watch Grey’s Anatomy. I watched Gilmore Girls regularly when it was on TV. I read sparkly pink YA book meant for teenage girls. I got addicted to the Game Show Network while at my mom’s house and wish I was home in the afternoon to watch Chain Reaction. I watched the soap opera Santa Barbara from the first to the last episode. I’m currently watching Live with Kelly and think Fred Savage should become the permanent co-host. I’m addicted to Facebook and spend a lot of time on social media. Does any of this make me guilty or ashamed? Nope. Why would I be ashamed to send time watching or reading things that make me happy? I don’t feel the need to pretend to be something I’m not. I don’t care if book, movies or music(80’s and pop punk) get good reviews. I only care about how they make me feel.

Reviews: I recently read a review of a comedy movie. Inside the review, the reviewer says you will laugh hard several times. The reviewer then goes on to give the movie a bad overall review. So, a comedy film is funny but is considered a failure? If I go to a comedy, I am going because I want to laugh. If I laugh a lot and hard isn’t that a success? Does it matter if the overall story is great? Are people really going to Neighbors 2 because they wanted a deep, meaningful story? Do reviewers even understand why people go to the movies?  There are some movies in every genre that are dependent on a strong story, excellent acting, score, etc in order to achieve what they are attempting. Some movies, like Neighbors 2, are just meant to make you laugh. Did it make you laugh? Mission accomplished. Stop reading so deeply into things that aren’t meant to be deep. Same goes for TV shows. Also, once you no longer like the medium you should probably stop reviewing it.

Performing the Beatles, Prince, Queen, etc : I was already tired of hearing people opine that people should never attempt to cover the Beatles and was reaching that point with people saying the same about Queen. Now, I’ve already had someone on the Today Show(who makes sure to mention regularly that Prince was a friend) say the same thing in response to the Madonna and Stevie Wonder performance last night. There are a lot of bad cover out there. I agree on that point. My feelings, though, are if you are doing a tribute or making the song your own, then cover away. Most will never be as good as the original, but no one is un-coverable.

Rain: Hot take: I’m tired of it. Please stop.

When There’s Something Female in Your Neighborhood, Who You Gonna Call

It was announced recently that Paul Feig will be making a new Ghostbusters movie and that the new Ghostbusters will be all women. From reading twitter it seems that a lot of people are really upset about this and will not watch a new Ghostbusters if it stars all women.

Personally, if there was going to be a new Ghostbusters, I wish it could have been done before Harold Ramis died and was an actual sequel with all of the originals. I’m not against reboots and remakes like a lot of people, but bringing back the original three would have been great. Obviously, with Ramis dead and Bill Murray not interested anyway, that will not happen. So, if there is to be a Ghostbusters, it will have to be a reboot. Here’s what I think about the reboot and the women issue:

I think the script is much more important than the gender make up of the cast. If you have a bad script, the gender of your cast won’t make a difference. Bad script equals bad movie. Of course, the cast is important and if you have a good script, you need the right cast to make it a good movie. Once again, this is not dependent on gender. I would much rather see a Ghostbusters with women like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Aubrey Plaza, Emma Stone, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Mann, Aisha Tyler etc. than a Ghostbusters with less talented male actors. The gender isn’t the issue for me. The talent is and all of those women, plus plenty more, are extremely talented and would make a good movie with the right script.

I assume the people out there who think I am wrong and that an all female Ghotbusters will automatically suck are the morons who believe women can’t be funny. I think Paul Feig is probably ok with them skipping the film.

Whip It: A Reviewlet

Unfortunately, I am now two days removed from seeing the movie, so my thoughts are not as fresh and easy to articulate as they would have been had I had time to write this earlier.

The good:  Ellen Page is very good in both the roller derby scenes and the scenes with her parents.  Daniel Stern and Marcia Gay Harden were perfect as the parents.  Kristen Wiig and Juliette Lewis were excellent as roller derby girls, Wiig as the mother figure to Page and Lewis as the villain.  Drew Barrymore was good in a small, comic relief role.  The roller derby scenes were well done and made me want to go see actual roller derby live.  The story was well written and didn’t have the pat Hollywood ending of everything being perfect at the end.

The bad:  The movie dragged in parts, especially in the scenes with Page and Landon Pigg, who played her love interest. I am a fan of  Alia Shawkat, but did not like her in the role of the best friend at all.

The verdict:  The good far outweighs the bad and this is a must see movie.

A Haunting in Connecticut – A Reviewlet

First a note about “reviews” from me. I give my general impressions of the movie. I’m not going to go into much detail about acting, effects, etc.

My night at the movies started with frustration, bordering on anger at the people in front of me in line and was pushed further by some of the others in the theater around me. I think I will save the details for another post later. I was afraid that this would make it impossible for me to enjoy the movie, but I was proven wrong.

A Haunting in Connecticut is not a great movie. I’m not sure it was even a very good movie. It was, however, better than many horror movies I have seen recently. Most of the actors did a good job with their characters. In fact, the only bad acting in the movie was done by the two youngest actors and I think that was a product of the writer not knowing how to write younger kids. They both acted like they were five even though the oldest of the two had to pushing 12. This was a distraction in every scene they were in. The standouts in the movie were Kyle Gallner as Matt and Elias Koteas as Reverend Propescu. They were the ones who had the bulk of the “haunting” scenes and excelled in them. Gallner was particularly good at playing the sick, vulnerable teen. I do have to admit, though, that I was distracted by the fact that he looked like the Robert Pattinson would look if he bothered to bathe regularly.

The movie was the best kind of ghost story. We saw flashes of the ghosts for the most part and didn’t see the full effect until the climax of the story. There was no attempt to scare with the gore factor or with a constant barrage of spooky images. A scare is much better when the anticipation builds. As a whole, A Haunting in Connecticut was a satisfying horror movie experience.