Aug 19 2016

Stranger Things Is All The Things

The Netflix series Stranger Things is all the things. I’m serious. I’ve never been affected by a television show like this before.

I’m going to attempt to explain. Please don’t get the men in white coats. I will also attempt not to spoil anything because you should watch Stranger Things and be amazed by it. There is a chance that I will mention something that happens on the show but I’m going to try not to.

DaddyTips, 'Strange'ified

 

(Make your own ‘Strange’ified text at MakeItStranger.com. But wait until you’ve watched the show.)

Everything about Stranger Things, including the pitch-perfect and totally brilliant fonts, is pure nostalgia. You can read about those aspects of the series everywhere. (Links are included below.)

What I haven’t read yet is what I think, which is the following:

Stranger Things is a dream I had but didn’t have, memories of a life I never lived but also did.

That’s harder to explain. I’ll give it a shot.

I grew up in the city. Lived in an apartment. Never learned to ride a bike. The kids in Stranger Things live in the suburbs, in houses, and ride their bikes everywhere.

Somehow, as I watched the series, especially the middle episodes (there are only eight in total, which is perfect both for your time and for the story being told), I found myself viewing the screen through a haze that I can only describe as memory, or a dream, or some combination of the two. The rest of my living room faded out and all I could see was my television. I mean this almost literally. It was an experience that I wish everyone could have because it was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, at least when it comes to a TV show.

I suppose one could say that what I’m describing is what happens when you see a great movie, or at least what used to happen when you were younger and less jaded about entertainment. Maybe you are still less jaded, and if so, I envy you. In a world with so many entertainment options, it is difficult not to evaluate work differently than I once did. The sheer joy of seeing Star Wars for the first time is something that no one will ever experience again, if for no other reason than because no movie will ever come out of nowhere the way Star Wars did in 1977. That doesn’t mean the new stuff isn’t good. It is. (We all know how I feel about the first Avengers movie.) It’s simply different.

Stranger Things is different as well. Yes, the show taps into old movies, referencing specific ones. That’s not why I loved it. (If you’re interested in knowing what those references are, that information is very easy to come by.) What the show did for me was the following: it managed to be both entertaining and, in some very strange way, present a life experience that I never actually had. It’s the deepest form of nostalgia.

I want to repeat that one more time because it sounds so unbelievably odd: Stranger Things felt like something that happened to me, even though it obviously didn’t. (Again, I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but trust me, Stranger Things didn’t happen to anybody.)

A person could argue that this is simply the movie references at work. This person may be right. I don’t think they are. Somehow, the Duffer Brothers created a piece of entertainment that sprang forth from my own brain, from my my own memories of something I never actually experiencedThat is an impressive piece of work.

A few specific things I loved about the show:

  • The moment when Winona Ryder, who is so good in this she deserves every award, is going to leave her house but decides she’s going to stay instead. It sums up her character, and it’s an astonishing piece of acting.
  • The kids. Where did they get these kids, a time machine? I didn’t think they made kids like that anymore.
  • No parents. Yes, the kids have parents. But they are rarely seen. That’s extremely retro, and so important to the artistic success of the show. As a parent, I would never allow my children to be on their own the way I was, which is the way the kids on the show are. It was a different time. And I’m not a ‘helicopter parent’. Mothers and fathers simply don’t allow children to do their own thing the way parents in the 80s did. That’s not a social commentary, it’s a fact.
  • The walkie-talkies.
  • The majority of the adults, in particular the two parents (other than Winona Ryder) that we see more often than others, and also the science teacher. Well, and the police officers. OK, I like everybody on the show.
  • Yelling through rooms. “Time for dinner!” “OKAY! (gets quieter) Now listen, here’s what we need to do.” (Not a direct quote.) The jump between jarringly loud and normal speaking voices is something that I don’t think we do anymore. I know I did it. It’s a small detail, one of many, that make Stranger Things possibly even greater than the sum of its wonderful parts.
  • THE KIDS. ALL OF THEM. Everyone is talking about the main group of kids, and for good reason. They’re amazing. I want to include every kid, even the ones with small roles. And speaking of small roles…
  • The characters, and the actors who play those characters. Every detail in Stranger Things has been picked over in numerous articles online. This is because those details were carefully chosen. (Apparently there is one car that isn’t the correct year. I can’t find the story but I’m sure you can if you want to.) Every character, even the small ones, gets something to do. The main characters each have so much going on that in a lesser show it would be distracting. On Stranger Things, it isn’t. Orange is the New Black, another brilliant (for different reasons) Netflix series, manages a similar feat. But Stranger Things does it in a shorter amount of time and on a show with kooky stuff. Orange is the New Black is brilliant in part because it is based on events that actually happened, and as it continues, on events that still are happening, even if it’s not these specific events happening to these specific people. (That is, prisons are super messed up places and horrible things are happening in them.) Stranger Things somehow is about things that happened even though there is no way they could have happened. And in real life, everybody has a story. EVERYBODY ON STRANGER THINGS HAS A STORY. You don’t get to hear about all of their stories, which is also just like real life. (Again, please don’t get the men in white coats. I am aware that Stranger Things is a television show.)
  • D&D

There are so many other pleasures that came from watching this show. A friend told me when I started watching it that Stranger Things had “all the feels.” I thought I knew what he meant but I didn’t. Stranger Things brought up emotions in me that I didn’t know I could still access. I frequently had to pause an episode because I found myself getting more than a little verklempt. Three times while watching Stranger Things, I ate chocolate. Not because I was hungry, because I needed it. That has literally never happened to me before.

I hope you watch Stranger Things and that you enjoy it. I realize I’ve probably oversold it to the point where if the show doesn’t give you a foot massage while feeding you peeled grapes it won’t live up to the type. I apologize for that. Watch it anyway. It’s really good.

Other articles:

(Warning: many of these stories will reveal details of Stranger Things that it would be better for you not to know before you watch. This may not matter to you, which is fine. The warning is because I want to do my part to give you the experience that I had, which is impossible. But I want to try. I’m getting verklempt again. OK, here’s the list.)

Stranger Things Is a Nerdy Story That Is So Much More Than Its References, io9

Gizmodo’s Stranger Things coverage

I don’t totally agree with this, but I’m glad someone did it:
Stranger Things, Side-By-Side With Every Excellent Film It Borrows From (Sploid/Gizmodo)

An article from The Guardian about Winona Ryder, who is SO GOOD ON THIS SHOW

Read this Business Insider article only after you’ve watched the series; I don’t even want to include the title because it’s spoilery.

Watch this after you’ve watched the show. It’s very funny. (io9)

A review of Stranger Things and another Netflix series, The Get Down (The New Yorker)

Here are even more articles. Some of them look cool. See the disclaimer, but also this one: if don’t want to know anything about the show before you watch it, wait until after you do to read these stories. It’s OK. We’ll wait. And if you want to talk about Stranger Things, leave a comment below, or hit me up on Twitter.


Jul 15 2016

ROGUE ONE: A Star Wars Story Trailer Hits All The Right Notes

So you may have heard about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the latest Star Wars movie. It comes out in December. Here’s the trailer. Prepare to feel nostalgic.

DaddyTips Featured Video

Am I right or am I right? They do a damn fine job of appealing to both us old folks (ahem) and the new generation of Star Wars fans. This particular video has both the “isn’t it cool that we’re making a new Star Wars movie?” and the actual trailer. The movie itself looks pretty good. I hope it is since I’ll wind up seeing it anyway.

Check out Star Wars stuff at Amazon.


Jul 11 2016

Calm The F Down About The Ghostbusters Reboot

Holy crap! Can everyone calm the f down about the Ghostbusters reboot?

English: The Ghostbusters ectomobile emergency...

English: The Ghostbusters ectomobile emergency vehicle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apparently not.

As far as I can tell, the insanity started as soon as the new movie was announced. Fans (and I use the term loosely; crazy people is probably more accurate) of the original 1984 film began to FREAK THE FUCK OUT because someone had the nerve to make a new movie featuring female ghostbusters. (Which, by the way, passes spell-check muster. I don’t whether to smile or weep.)

I’ve been irritated by the term “raping my childhood” since I first heard it, I think back when the first of Michael Bay’s “Transformers” flicks hit theaters. While I can’t say I loved (or even saw) all of Bay’s movies, I can say that I don’t believe in the idea that something new ruins the memory of something old. It’s called show business folks. Not show fun. Not “Preserve In Amber Some Nudnik’s Memory of a Movie.” Grow up. Seriously.

The answer to the question “why are they making a new Ghostbusters movie?” is simple — MONEY. That’s the reason almost all movies are made, certainly Hollywood blockbusters/tentpoles.

Leslie Jones, one of the stars of the new film, wrote a series of tweets taking the “haters” (another term I don’t like, but for more complicated reasons) to task, asking the sensible question, “what will you tell your daughter” when they ask about being a Ghostbuster for Halloween. I would add “what will you tell your son?” There is no reason for the kind of vituperative language being thrown around online, regardless of the subject matter, but ESPECIALLY when the subject is A FUCKING MOVIE.

Movies are important to me. Anyone who reads this site even casually will notice a lot of movie references, and I went a little crazy about The Avengers movie when it came out in 2012. (Was it really four years ago? Oy.) I went crazy in a good way; I was excited to see a movie featuring some of my favorite superheroes onscreen together. Back in 2012, that was a novelty rather than the norm. (Again — was it only four years ago? Yes. Yes it was.)

Had I not liked The Avengers, I don’t imagine I would have spent countless hours writing blog posts telling everyone how much I didn’t like it. I might complain to my friends, at least those who are still willing to discuss such things with me. But taking the time to type out blog posts, or worse, making a video to tell the world how and why I think Hollywood did something wrong? Please. I have other ways to spend my time.

Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe the people who are taking the Internet to “troll” (yet another term I’m not a fan of, although I like it more than “hater” because at least it has history), leaving comments on YouTube and other places, maybe these folks simply have too much time on their hands.

Really though, what I wish is that everyone would CALM DOWN. Take a deep, cleansing breath, and consider that perhaps this level of anger over a movie you haven’t seen (remember that this started way back when the film was first announced) is waaaay too intense. I’m not even getting into the whole “How dare they make a movie with female Ghostbusters” thing. That’s crazy too. But even before we get to that, can’t we just stop losing our effing minds over movies? And while we’re at it, maybe stop screaming at people online, typing things that we would never say in person? We don’t have to all get along. We can, however, be more civil.

Source: Leslie Jones slams sexist Ghostbusters haters: ‘What will you tell your daughter’? (EW.com)

Wanna watch the original movie? Guess what? You can! There’s this thing called Amazon, and they rent digital movies! They even sell DVDs! Crazy, right?


Apr 15 2016

Doctor Strange Trailer (And Some Thoughts on The Comics)

By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, they actually did it. Here is the new Doctor Strange trailer.

Doctor Strange movie

Looks like fun, yeah? I’ll give you a few thoughts of my own; if you want a moment by moment Doctor Strange trailer breakdown check out this video at IGN.

(Note: Marvel/Comixology/Amazon is having a sale on Doctor Strange digital comics — 99 cents each. Check ’em out here.)

So. Doctor Strange. What’s his deal? He’s got magic powers, lots of nifty mystical items that he uses to protect Earth from inter-dimensional nasties, and… I don’t know, he’s cool. Not a traditional superhero like Iron Man, Spider-Man and the rest.

Splash page for the "Doctor Strange"...

Splash page for the “Doctor Strange” story in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963). Art by Steve Ditko. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On a personal note, the first “real” comic book I ever read was an issue of Doctor Strange. I’d been reading Richie Rich, Casper, Archie, that kind of stuff. One day my dad said, “It’s time for you to read some real comics,” and handed me a copy of Doctor Strange. My little boy mind was blown. The first thing I remember is how much smaller the lettering was. That was true for all “real” comics (read: Marvel and DC); Richie Rich, et al, were aimed at very young readers and had simpler dialogue and storylines… and larger lettering. The next thing I remember is the splash page. One big image, full of colorful details, with Doctor Strange himself looming large over it all. I think he was looking out of a window, but it’s possible he was sitting in a chair with stuff drawn around him. I’ve been looking for that issue for years and I think I’ve found it, although I can’t remember what number it is at the moment. I also don’t remember the story. But I do remember how I felt. It was basically my comic book Bar Mitzvah. No more little kid comics for me. Now I could read the good stuff.

And I did. I have a nice collection of books that I bought at the local candy store/newsstand, because you could buy comics there when I was a kid. (You still kind of can, it just isn’t as common.) I didn’t keep those comics in very good shape, which in some cases is a bummer — my Frank Miller and Klaus Janson Daredevils would be worth a few bucks, as would my copy of the original Wolverine mini-series (which you can get for less than six dollars via Comixology). But instead of bagging and boarding everything, I read the hell out of my comics, because they were awesome. (Those Daredevils in particular are probably my favorite comic books ever.)

Back to Doctor Strange. His book went in and out, and I didn’t buy it that often. It’s possible that the local candy store didn’t always have it in stock even when it was being published. In addition to not being a traditional superhero, I don’t think he was as popular as the big names. He did found one of my sneaky super teams, The Defenders. The original core group of Defenders was Doctor Strange, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and The Incredible Hulk, quickly followed by The Silver Surfer. Basically a bunch of really powerful dudes who don’t play well with others, hence the term “non-team”. Later Defenders mainstays included such popular characters as Hellcat, Gargoyle, and Nighthawk. Also Valkyrie. Never heard of them? Join the club. (Marvel is doing a Netflix series called The Defenders, which I’m sure will be fun but doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with The Defenders’ comic books.) The Defenders hung out at Doctor Strange’s Greenwich Village mansion, known as The Sanctum Santorum, while constantly making a point of telling readers that they were NOT a super-team like The Avengers. I liked those comics a lot. Something about the idea of a group of semi-outcasts and/or angry people and/or loners teaming up only when it suited them really appealed to me.

I also always dug the good Doctor on his own. His job, Sorcerer Supreme, was to defend Earth from mystical threats. Sometimes he gets help from other Marvel heroes, but usually he doesn’t, because he’s the only one who can do what needs to be done. This led to some wonderfully trippy artwork, first by the legendary Steve Ditko (written by the even more legendary Stan Lee) and later by lots of other people.

The thing that made me the happiest in the trailer was seeing Doctor Strange’s Astral Form. (When Tilda Swinton punches him and it looks like a ghost pops out of his body.) It works like this: Doc leaves his body behind, defenseless, and his spirit floats around and does stuff. He can travel faster this way, but he can’t touch anyone and most people can’t see him. (One notable exception, if memory serves, is The Hulk. Because comic books. UPDATE: I just read some Doctor Strange comics from the 80s, and in those stories Doc can allow people to see his astral form if he wants them to. Again, because comic books.) It’s something that for various reasons I always found fascinating, so to see them do it in a live action movie had me making little nerdy noises.

So there you go. The Doctor Strange trailer. Looks like Marvel might get it right again, taking a character that isn’t well-known and putting said character into a big-budget blockbuster movie that doesn’t suck. Here’s hoping.

Read some comics:


Dec 29 2015

There are Star Wars: The Force Awakens Contrarians

I enjoyed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the movie has received much critical acclaim. Great! May they make all the money.

However, I also think it’s important that there are other voices out there. People who say “this stinks” or at least “this isn’t as good as everyone says it is”. Otherwise we’re all mindless drones bowing to our corporate overlords. Not to be over-dramatic about it. But it rarely ends well when EVERYBODY agrees.

Star Wars - Sand People

Star Wars – Sand People (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deutsch: „Star Wars”-Logo

Deutsch: „Star Wars”-Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And OK, sure. It’s just a movie. It’s just Star Wars. But it’s also more than just Star Wars. It’s entertainment, it’s escapist, it’s fun, it’s all good… as long as we can see the flaws. Or as long as we aren’t blindly devoted to the blockbuster.

DaddyTips readers (and pretty much anyone who knows me) are well aware of my love for the Avengers movie. I am willing to acknowledge that there are parts of the film that aren’t perfect. It’s a thing that makes me happy, and I think those things are important. For example, I don’t believe in “guilty pleasures” unless your guilty pleasure is something you should feel guilty about doing, such as clubbing baby seals. Watching a movie that you know isn’t great but you like it anyway? Please. (I do not, for the record, put The Avengers movie in that category. At all. I’ve seen it more than ten times. I might watch it again today.) That being said, I have no problem with someone who doesn’t like the movie, be they a friend or a professional film critic. I enjoy reading/hearing a different point of view than mine. As long as they have more to say than just this:

This article from Vox, titled “Critics are going too easy on Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, written by David Roberts (whose bio says “I write about energy and climate change” — and Star Wars, apparently, which shows how big a deal this movie is, in case you hadn’t noticed), makes some good points, and also has links to other Vox articles that are worth reading, including one that supposedly explains what the heck The First Order is. (I haven’t read it yet, hence the “supposedly explains”. Keep in mind that I did see the movie, but I still don’t really know what The First Order is. For the record, it doesn’t really matter, except that it does. Which is basically my point. If that’s confusing, ask me and I’ll explain.)

Bottom line: you can like a movie and know that it’s flawed, you can dislike a movie and acknowledge what’s good about it, you can hate a movie that everyone says is great — you should make your own decisions. I’ll even go so far as to call this a DaddyTip. In what way? The tip is that you shouldn’t let your kids get sucked into the blind devotion of a movie. I’m not suggesting you hit them over the head with criticism either, especially if they’re young. But let them know that it’s OK if they don’t 100% LOVE every single minute of this new Star Wars movie even if their friends do, or any other piece of entertainment for that matter. Be clever. Be a contrarian. Look at things with a critical eye as well as the eye of a fan. Understand that entertainment is awesome, and that it’s fun to escape from reality. Just make sure that you don’t completely forget about reality when the movie is over.

Or join the crowd and love it. That’s also an option, and probably easier.

Being derivative is not some clever pomo statement — it’s just derivative.

Source: Critics are going too easy on Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Vox


Sep 09 2015

Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron 2-Disc BD Combo Pack Pre-Order

Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. You saw it. (At least you did if you live in my house.) You loved it. Maybe not as much as you loved The Avengers (the first one), but that’s not a big shocker because the first one was awesome and tough to top. Now the 2-Disc Blu-Ray Combo Pack is available from Amazon for pre-order. I’m going to pre-order it, because, well, I love me some comic book movies.

English: Cast of The Avengers at the 2010 San ...

English: Cast of The Avengers at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International featuring Robert Downey Jr., Clark Gregg, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BUT! I won’t get it until October 2, 2015. #FirstWorldProblems

I can’t quite tell, but I think if I want to pay $19.99 NOW I can get the movie in HD *immediately*; SD (standard definition) is available on October 2, like the discs.

Can I wait a month? Of course. Do I *want* to wait a month? No. I want to watch the movie again NOW.

Call the wahhhhbulance. Read more »


Sep 02 2015

Netflix Giveth, Netflix Taketh Away, September 2015 Edition

Via The Mary Sue (originally via Death and Taxes), a list of what will be added and removed from Netflix in the month of September in the year 2015. A highly selective micro-list follows. For the full list, head over to The Mary Sue.

taro taking his pictures for netflix 'ads' (se...

taro taking his pictures for netflix ‘ads’ (see more here: tar0shiba.tumblr.com/post/967950437/shibaadvertisements2 ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Notable losses:

Sept. 30
Apocalypse Now
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
World War Z

Notable gains:

Sept. 1
First Blood (1982), Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Rambo III: Ultimate Edition (1988) – So, like, ALL the Rambo.

Masters of the Universe (1987)

Mister Roger’s Neighborhood: Volume One – this is interesting. I’ve said in the past that it saddens me to know that children are growing up without Mister Rogers in their television lives. (My kids didn’t get to watch him, but he was important to me.) Will the show work as something to be streamed? I don’t know.

Sept. 12
Portlandia: Season Five – even when this show is bad, it doesn’t bother me. There’s something soothing about it. I’m not caught up, so it’s possible that they’ve run out of ideas by now. Still, I’ll probably watch when I get the chance. Side note: Carrie Brownstein wrote a book and is doing a reading in NYC in October. Anyone wanna go with me?

Sept. 18
Keith Richards: Under the Influence (2015) *Netflix Original – this *could* be interesting, as long as it isn’t too long and overly sanitized.

Sept. 22
SMOSH: The Movie (2015) – I was surprised to see this. It’s from the goofy guys who are mega YouTube stars. Here’s one of my personal favorites: a 7-year-old describes the Twilight movies based on the trailers. Semi-NSFW. My kid showed me this years ago.

Anyway, it would appear that they made a movie. Good for them. No, I mean actually good for them, not Christian Bale gooooood for them. I like it when people succeed.

Many, many more movies and TV shows coming and going from Netflix in September 2015. Hit the link below for the full list.

Source: Here’s What We’re Losing (and Gaining) on Netflix in September—Starting Tomorrow | The Mary Sue