Frankencast 2015

An 8 minute intro followed by a cut-and-paste hodgepodge of “deleted scenes” from 3 unreleased episodes.

What better way to start the year?

[Caution: If you love cats, Lord of the Rings, Fiona Apple or Dungeons and Dragons prepare to hear me defend them all while other people shit all over them.]

In all seriousness I must apologize for the lack of updates in recent weeks/months but we should be able to get our shit together from here on out.

Pictured: Guy with shit together...

Pictured: Guy with shit together…

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Rip the Pearl Necklace

I just watched Gotham on Fox.

After an hour on Twitter, discussing everything I liked (and hated) about the premiere with a buncha strangers I decided to come here, stand on my soapbox and rant a bit.

What the fuck, Fox?

Seriously?

The original logline for the show, the basic premise that intrigued me, AND THE WHOLE INTERNET, was: Gotham City before Batman. A police procedural set in the seediest, most corrupt, crime infested city.

The idea was intriguing. “But who would watch a Batman show without Batman?” I heard a ton of people who weren’t hardcore fans of the universe ask.

Smart people. That’s who.

I wanted to see a few good cops trying to go up against a corrupt system, just trying their best when even the highest ranking officials in the city are on the mob’s payroll. I wanted to see characters only tangentially related to Batman because Gotham City itself should’ve been the main character.

I’ll argue that Gotham City is Batman’s true nemesis, more so than any of the Rogue’s Gallery. Gotham killed his parents and Gotham never changes despite all his efforts to clean it up.

Having a dark, gritty series that showcases just how fucked up a place Gotham is would have given us a better appreciation for everything Batman does in his Sisyphean quest for justice.

“But Josh, you foolish asshole,” I hear you screaming. “How do you make that interesting to the average viewer?”.

The same way that DC Comics has been doing it for almost 80 years! Good writing and interesting characters.

They have so much lore to borrow from. They could’ve stolen from the best and it would’ve been completely within their rights. Take a bit from Grant Morrison, a huge chunk of Geoff Johns’ Earth One, add a dash of Scott Snyder for flavour and the makings of an awesome show are apparent right from the start.

Make Thomas and Martha Wayne THE MAIN CHARACTERS.

At least for Season 1. You make Tom an idealistic physician with political aspirations. Everyday when he drives past the Solomon Wayne Court House on his way to work at the Alan Wayne Memorial Hospital he can’t help but feel like the city that his ancestors built is going to hell and he’s doing nothing to stop it. So he runs for mayor hoping to right some wrongs.

Meanwhile Martha Wayne (who in this version was born Martha Arkham) struggles with mental illness. It’s a Gotham urban legend that her father went insane and murdered her mother when she was a girl so the people of Gotham all gossip in hushed tones about how all members of the Arkham family are crazy. Going all the way back to when Jeremiah Arkham built the famed Arkham Asylum for his insane daughter, mental illness is suspected to be heredity in the Arkham bloodline.

Martha’s dependance on Lithium and her dangerous bouts of manic depression are a huge scoop for the gossip magazines and threaten to derail Tom’s mayoral campaign. So she puts on a happy facade and plays the doting wife all the while she’s terrified that her genes have poisoned the mind of her young son who is already displaying sociopathic tendencies that she hides from her husband. She doesn’t want him to see any doctors because if is is diagnosed then she can’t keep living in denial that he’s a normal little boy.

The whole season is about the campaign leading up to election. The mob wants the incumbent Mayor to win and the throughline of the show is a plot to murder Thomas if he wins, but to leave him and his family alone if they can force him to drop out of the race through intimidation, or just steal the election all together.

Jim Gordon, who is still a uniformed cop, is assigned to protection detail. He’s one of many body guards for Thomas and Martha Wayne but most importantly he’s not a boy scout. He’s a bent cop, “on the take”. That’s the way it works in Gotham. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just pragmatic and accepts that he can still do a modicum of good as a member of the police force, but to survive he has to occasionally turn a blind eye on some shady dealings. He spends a lot of time with the family and bonds with Bruce.

Jim and Tom become good friends. They spend a year getting to know each other, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, the audience gets to know him. And Martha.

That way when they’re killed after he wins the election AT THE END OF THE FIRST SEASON we give a shit about it. We’re not just sad because the TV is telling us to be sad and sad music is playing on a close up of a kid with a sad face.

We’ve lost characters we care about.

THEN in the second season Gordon is a detective, he’s personally invested in the case. He DOESN’T WANT to turn a blind eye anymore. He’s gonna solve the murder BY THE BOOK.

This is called character development. Growth.

He’s not just a cookie cutter good guy. He knows that by seeking justice he might even implicate himself, but his guilt just won’t allow him to just let it go.

Now little Bruce’s problems seem to come from the trauma of losing his parents and not inherent mental instability so he continues to go undiagnosed and without the medication and therapy that he needs. His obsession with revenge starts and we see his quest for justice as more of a poor kids delusion and we sympathize with him.

There’s so much potential story and character study here. It’s like ripe fruit begging to be picked and instead we get the exact same origin we’ve seen in film and TV a million times. We get Catwoman witnessing the Wayne’s murder, The Riddler working for GCPD, The Penguin ratting out the mob to Jim Gordon and Poison Ivy namechecked FOR NO FUCKING REASON.

We all love Batman and I guess the guys who created this show thought we’d like the show more if they crammed a whole bunch of nods and references to Batman in THE FIRST GODDAMNED EPISODE.

Remember how much we all LOOOOOOVED it when Anakin Skywalker built Threepio?

What makes Batman so interesting, at least to me, is how ineffectual he is.

He could probably fix the city with his mind and his money, instead he puts on a mask and beats people up. The truth is he creates the villains he fights. If not directly (like Two Face) then by just appealing to the crazies sense of the dramatic. When a psycho criminal sees a guy dressed as a bat, he decides to wear clown make up.

This was my main issue with all the recognizable villains that popped up in the premiere. They shouldn’t exist without Batman.

Last winter Kevin Smith and Paul Dini recorded an episode of one of my favorite podcasts ever: Fatman on Batman. They discussed a dream project of theirs, a TV show (like Smallville), that took place during Bruce Wayne’s youth.

The zeal and pure enthusiasm with which these two dreamers talked about this TV show that would never be, got me really excited. I can’t help but feel that the creative team either heard the show, or the massive fan response on Twitter, and at the last minute scrambled to include as many of those ideas into Gotham as they could.

I was hoping for a more subtle approach.

The show is called Gotham.

Instead they gave us the prequel to Batman Begins: Batman Before.

I’m gonna keep watching because I really want to love this show.

It’s just that so far, there’s seems to be too much Batman in a show that was supposed to be about Gotham City without Batman.

The Legend of VTAN: A Link to the ‘Cast (part 1)

Literally no one, except for me, has been excited for this episode to come out, but it’s finally here and I’m giddy with girlish glee.

 

Kyle and I decided one lazy Sunday afternoon to play Zelda III from start to finish.

Since he’s gonna be gone for another 3 weeks I re-purposed this recording, which I had never intended on releasing, and turned it into a new edition of the VTAN Podcast.

Once Kyle returns we can go back to having real  episodes.

Betcha Forgot!

Stream Online
Or Download Now

 
Josh first met Kyle “K-Hutch” Hutchinson when they both worked at Blockbuster Video. They developed a fast friendship based on Rob Gordon’s 1st Commandment of Social Interaction, “It’s what you like, not what you are like that matters.”

Having few other people in their lives who understand their “language” Kyle and Josh speak to each other in a sort of shorthand code composed of inside jokes and pop culture references.

They spend an inordinate amount of time nostalgically remembering old movies and TV shows constantly trying to one up each other to see who knows more.

Despite no longer working together, they keep their friendship strong by marathon video gaming sessions and special board game nights every time that Josh gets the urge to show up at the door step… uninvited.

These are their adventures.

Play the Grammar Game

Nouns of Assembly.

What the hell are those?

I didn’t know, or at least I didn’t know that I knew, until I played a rather rowdy game of Anomia with my good friend Ryan, my bro Jaron and his lovely girlfriend Paige.

[*on a side note everyone should go out and play some Anomia RFN! Adults in general should make a point to play more boardgames*]

Nouns of assembly are special words used to describe a collective mass of any one particular thing. Most commonly in English they’re used to give different names to groups of animals. Everyone has probably heard of a herd of cows or maybe even a Flock of Seagulls but some of the more obscure ones are pretty fun.

Here are my favourites:

An army of ants.
A group of bears is called a sleuth.
Boars come in a sounder.
A caravan of camels.

If you were a kid in the 90’s Simba and Nala probably taught you that a group of lions is called a pride. Domestic cats come in a clowder but a group of wildcats is called a destruction! How cool is that?

A murder of crows, a convocation of eagles, a wake of buzzards, a parliament of owls and a pandemonium of parrots. A sedge of cranes, piteousness of doves, a paddling of ducks. When geese are on the ground they’re called a gaggle but in flight they’re a skein. A charm of finches, a kettle of hawks and an ostentation of peacocks. So many different names for so many different birds.

A group of giraffes is a tower, hyenas are a cackle and gorillas come in whoops. Africa… gotta love it.

A business of ferrets, family of beavers and a mess of iguanas but my absolute favourite is mice.

A group of mice is called a mischief.

My number one favourite word in the English language is mischief and I feel like it fits so well with mice. They’re such mischievous little mischief makers.

My birthday is only about 2 weeks from now.

Maybe I should get myself a pet mouse. I’ll name him something cool like Oliver or Nacho.

Missing the Damn Point

I’m about to show everyone the depths of my insanity.

Admittedly I usually am the type to dramatically overreact but let that not allow you to discount the SCIENCE I’m about to drop on your face, INTERNET!

I am a dreamer. Unlike Mötley Crüe, however, I am about to make it evidently clear that my heart is not o’ gold as I switch settings from normal (for Josh at least) to BATSHIT VEHEMENCE.

As a Champion for Imagination I have to speak up.

Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the worst fucking thing to happen to storytelling and should be seen as nothing less than a personal attack, A HATE CRIME EVEN, against storytellers or anyone with enough whimsy to see the inherent value in daydreaming.

Pictured: Hate Crime

Pictured: Hate Crime

In the past I’ve railed against people who “judge books by their covers” and who, in general, form opinions before collecting all the facts. It’s the reason why I’ve suffered through every single goddamned episode of The Big Bang Theory. I feel that it’s the only way to speak with authority when I say that it is THE WORST MOTHERFUCKING SHOW IN HUMAN HISTORY. It’s a right that I have earned through hours of torture at the hands of Chuck “Fuck-me-in-the-eye-hole” Lorre.

Pictured: Hate Crime

Pictured: Hate Crime

But when it comes to the new hashtag@mittymoviedotcom the trailer and the short clip I saw on Ellen today are enough for me to risk absurdity by declaring, sight unseen, that this movie is the slimy afterbirth of a bloody abortion of cinema.

I know you must be thinking, “Tell us how you really feel, Joshie!” and I’ll concede that it may not be completely out of line to call the Hyperbole Police on me, but there is some truth fueling my rage.

The tagline is “A life discovered is better than a life imagined.”

FUCK YOU 20TH CENTURY FOX! FUCK YOU RIGHT IN YOUR FUCKING DRUMS AND SPOTLIGHTS! YOUR FANFARE WILL NEVER AGAIN PRECEDE A STAR WARS MOVIE AND SO I NO LONGER OWE YOU ANY LOYALTY. FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU,
FUCK YOU!

Earlier this year Brad Pitt took my favourite book, tore it to shreds and wiped his ass with the scraps. Whether or not World War Z was a “good” movie is not the issue. He took a ground breaking, genre bending, cerebral and emotionally jarring, global scale masterpiece and churned out a generic ‘spolsion heavy action hero movie.

I don’t care that the plot deviated, my teeth gnash because the “creative minds” behind WWZ completely missed the point of the source material.

I’ve said numerous times that World War Z is not about zombies and these movie producers proved me right.

They took a story about the unpreparedness of world governments when dealing with disaster and the necessity of global cooperation and they turned it into a story about zombies.

More specifically a story about one man’s journey to TREK ACROSS THE GLOBE, REUNITE WITH HIS FAMILY AND SINGLE HANDEDLY SAVE THE WORLD from zombies.

Pictured: Hate Crime

Pictured: Hate Crime

Missing the Damn Point.

Now here comes Mitty, a giant lump of coal in my Christmas stocking.

Missing the Damn Point.

From what I can tell (and the tiny part of me that desperately wants to enjoy this movie hopes I’m way, way wrong) this Mitty movie is about a pathetic schmo who whittles the day away “zoned out” in his daydreams and learns that he needs to step up and have a REAL adventure in order to have a fulfilling life. They’re telling us all that our dreary boring lives aren’t good enough unless we’re jumping out of helicopters or street luging down some Icelandic mountainside.

Ben Stiller himself says “It’s about a daydreamer and a guy who sorta lives in his head and then he’s kinda forced to go out into reality.”

Any half-comatose jughead with a 7th grade education and A FUCKING LIBRARY CARD can tell you that is NOT what this story is about. That is, quite possibly, the exact fucking opposite message that is contained in James Thurber’s FOUR FUCKING PAGE SHORT STORY!

Walter Mitty is a story about a man whose overbearing tyrannical wife leaves him feeling worthless and emasculated. In order to cope he takes comfort in the adventures that he creates in his dreams. The story professes the VALUE OF IMAGINATION.

In this GoogleflixTweetbookXbox4 world I can’t think of a more necessary message we need right now.

Kids today can’t entertain themselves the way they used to. Most adults have forgotten how.

J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst recently released S. an amazing new book with a complex story that seemingly couldn’t possibly have been told in any other medium. ALMOST IMMEDIATELY the Internet is buzzing with “I can’t wait for the movie” and “Is it available for e-readers?” proof that our collective imagination is stagnating.

Every day another remake, adaptation, reboot or comic book movie is greenlit. Netflix is making a Jessica Jones series.

Don’t even get me started on Guardians of the Goddamned Galaxy.

Our lack of imagination makes it impossible for us to accept something we haven’t already seen. It’s the reason a Walter Mitty movie was even made in the first place. Movie studios scoop up the rights to any IP with a built in fanbase because they know they can sell it.

But again, they just don’t seem to be getting it.

Why go to all the trouble of adapting a story if you’re only going to strangle it to death and display it’s hollowed out corpse as your “version of it”?

World War Z would have been fine, and would’ve pissed fewer people off if it had been called Zombie Wars.

Ben Stiller turned 4 pages to 125 minutes. What we’re left with, I’m sure has nothing more than a passing resemblance to its namesake.

He should’ve called it Daydream Believer, licensed that Monkees track for the soundtrack and called it a day.

[note: it’s been almost three months since my last post. depression and poor physical health has made it impossible to motivate myself to write. the outraged fury that this innocuous episode of The Ellen Degeneres Show stirred in ma bellay finally shook me out of my funk. don’t get used to it. i might not be back for another three months]

Écoutez la Meilleure Chanson

The statistics say that the world uploads 100 hours of video to Youtube every single minute. That means that if I tried to watch Youtube in its entirety then I would never be able to catch up. You fall behind four days every 60 seconds.

Must... watch... Youtube

Must… watch… Youtube

It’s for this reason that I don’t feel bad when I stumble upon a viral video that’s been up for 2 or 3 years but has somehow gone completely below my radar. Funny skits, or animations or music videos that seemingly everyone else has seen but I’ve, for one reason or another, never noticed.

This is different from the flash in the pan cultural phenomena I go out of my way to avoid like “Gangam Style” which I went almost a full year without ever hearing, or “Thrift Shop” which I miraculously have still never heard.

I still don’t know what “twerking” is and if I go to my grave without knowing, I’ll be happy.

I’m talking about videos I’d genuinely want to watch but have just remained oblivious to until very recently.

I only just discovered the amazingly talented Youtuber SweetAfton23 and I feel something approximating love beginning to stir in my withered black heart.

Her album is only five bucks on bandcamp so everyone should go buy it.

MyHope, I Pity the Fool, Peep Fight and Our American Cousin are all solid tracks but It All Makes Sense in the End is my new #1 favourite song in the world and possibly the best breakup song ever written.

I feel like this song was written especially for me as the complaints she makes are things I’ve been told before by those poor ladies unfortunate enough to have dated me. The actual subject of the song, though, is pure genius.

I did that fancy thing where you have to highlight the text after the song to read the spoilers. Listen to the track then drag your mouse underneath to find out, if you haven’t already, why it really does all make sense in the end.


It’s a break up song about wikipedia. She’s breaking up with a website. How cool is that?

Explain the Crazy Obsession

People think it’s an obsession. A compulsion. As if there were an irresistible impulse to act. It’s never been like that. I chose this life. I know what I’m doing. And on any given day, I could stop doing it. Today, however, isn’t that day. And tomorrow won’t be either.

Batman, Brad Metzler “Identity Crisis”

I didn’t want to do this. At least not this soon. I started this whole thing because I never talk about myself. Most people know me as a goofy, fun loving joker and very few get to see the gears working behind the scenes in this crazy messed up head of mine.

I never talk to anyone about how I’m feeling. Even with my closest friends I only ever have hollow conversations about pop culture, so books and movies rather than thoughts and emotions are standard topics of discussion. But since today marks the release of the latest in the series of DC Animated Universe films, and since I’m running out of ways to distract myself from having to deal with my whole “dad situation”, I want to take a little time to talk about Batman.

Today I went out and bought a copy of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns part 2 on BluRay.

photo(2)

I imagine it would’ve had to have been an amusing sight, watching me watch this movie. Every now and then I’d catch myself involuntarily whispering, “Damn, I fuckin’ love Batman!”

I thought about maybe writing a review but instead I decided to be a little more self reflective and try to put into words why Batman matters to me so much.

So? Why am I obsessed with Batman?

Because I feel more emotionally connected to him than to most real people in my life.

It takes a person of a special disposition to consider a fictional character, originally created for ten cent pulp rags, as an emotional touchstone. I am aware that most people will say I’m crazy when, in a world full of poverty and violence and real suffering, I say that Batman is important, but he is to me. The effect that this character has had in shaping me into who I am today is so significant I’d go as far as saying that it makes me understand religious fundamentalism in a frightening way.

I’m not saying I agree with the fundees AT ALL, I’m just saying that I understand how these crazy nutjobs can get so incensed over their most strongly held beliefs. If I can almost come to blows with a stranger at the comic shop over something as trivial as a freaking superhero book, then it makes a weird sort of sense that people would go to war over religion.

And that’s really what I’m trying to say. Since 1992 Batman has been my religion.

June 19th 1992.

I remember the exact date because it was my older brother’s 12th birthday as well as the original theatrical release date of Batman Returns.

I’ve been obsessed ever since.

At first it was about the adventure of it all. I was only six years old at the time. Little kids are impressed by the car and the gadgets and the BILLIONS OF DOLLARS. As I grew older and read the works of Grant Morrison, Jeph Loeb, Paul Dini and especially Frank Miller, I started to see the true complexity that makes him so interesting.

Batman is as crazy as I am.

I am crazy.

I say it so often and so candidly that people sort of just shrug it off without really letting it sink in, but the truth is that there’s so much wrong with me that just the thought of trying to list it all is exhausting. I’m psychologically damaged in a way that I fear may never be fully repaired and while I’m certainly not dangerous I’m self aware enough to know how unpleasant it can be having me around. This means I either spend a lot of time alone or having to apologize for myself.

If you read Batman through a certain lens, it becomes very clear, very quickly, that he’s not at all a hero in the traditional sense. He’s more insane than the weirdos he’s always locking up.

He’s a an obsessive compulsive, paranoid sociopath with dissociative personality disorder and an infallibility complex. He went through emotional suffering at a young age and has never been able to get over it and, more to the point, it appears he’s not even trying since he’s intentionally putting himself into situations that will make it worse.

I feel like I’m talking about myself when I write that.

One day I’m going to write about the experiences both past and very recent that have contributed to my overall mental instability. For now I’ll just say that I recently sat down and had a real conversation with someone recovering from a substance abuse problem. Although it was a brief talk, and I’ve never dealt with this kind of problem myself, I was amazed at how connected I felt to this person. Being able to talk about feelings with someone who could draw upon their own personal experiences to really understand the type of pain I had been feeling was so different. Even now I’m still trying to work out how I felt about it.

What I’m hamhandedly trying to say is that never before did I have anyone who I felt I could relate to emotionally and so I used Batman as a surrogate.

I would read about this poor little boy so full of anger who grows up to be a man with no hope for a happy future and while it didn’t necessarily give me hope for the future it did give me that feeling of “at least I’m not alone.”

I started this entry with a quote that gives us a glimpse at the denial that Batman lives with everyday. He’ll never admit to himself just how crazy his actions are and how little control he has over his obsessions.

That’s at least one thing I’ve got going for me. I’m happy that I’m able to recognize that I’m all messed up in the head.

It makes me feel like maybe one day I won’t be.