There are days when my brains feel like cheap, imported cardboard.  Not quality, American made cardboard, mind you, but the sketchy imported stuff.  This is one of those days.

Above The Line

I’m always flabbergasted when I hear that a particular star (usually Tom Cruise) is being paid $20M to star in a film.  The first thing that occurs to me is: Couldn’t they get someone who can run toward the camera for, say, $10M and use the leftover money to pay teachers?

Okay, what I actually think is “give the leftover money to me” but I think I come off better pretending I care about teachers.

The truth is, actors do open movies… sometimes… and for some people.  While you probably wouldn’t even bother going to see a Mission Impossible movie without Cruise in it, I can’t help but think that Edge of Tomorrow would have made its way to profitability quicker with a different star out front (and also a better title).  When you see Tom Cruise’s name, your expectations for what you’re going to see fall into a very narrow realm.

For the record, I’m not saying Cruise wasn’t great in the movie, he was, but it was a stretch for his public persona that may have limited the number and kind of people who came out to see the movie.

And there is one actor who gets me on board any project he’s in, as well.  Stanley Tucci. He literally makes anything he’s in watchable at the very least and often lifts the material to another level.  I even watched The Devil Wears Prada because he was in it.  And you know what?  The parts he was in were really good.

As a result, I ended up watching a TV show that I normally would not have even heard about: Fortitude. It turned out to be excellent.  If you haven’t seen it, give it a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

I should add that everyone in the show is great, including Michael Gambon and a lot of European actors Americans might not be too familiar with.  It was just that hearing Tucci was going to be in it brought me to the show while the writing, production value, and excellent acting kept me with it.


The thing that makes life exciting, and therefore worth living, is a sense of wonder and newness. You get that sense of wonder and newness from a thing called dopamine, a chemical and its associated receptors in your brain that give you that, “Oh, wow!” feeling when something cool or unexpected happens. That double rainbow guy a few years back had way too many dopamine receptors.

As you age, fewer and fewer things provide you with a reason to fire up the old dopamine mechanism, mostly because you’ve actually seen pretty much everything or because your brain just feels like you’ve seen everything.  You can spur the system to life by trying new and dangerous things like jumping out of planes or sex tourism in Bangkok and we call that tempting fate.  Or you can achieve the effect through the application of various drugs and we call that crippling addiction.

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Tagging Out

We complain about writers and directors being booted from movies and how the vision gets lost in the process but we forget that sometimes it’s for a good reason.

For instance, Jeff Wadlow did not in any way get the Kick-Ass story. If someone had looked over his shoulder and seen what he was up to early on during prep, maybe they could have gently guided him over to the corner to let him think about something else for a while and we could have gotten a sequel that was as smart and stylish as the original instead of being bludgeoned by the turd that Wadlow produced.

Many productions are troubled and there’s always interference from the studio, but it’s hard to tell if that flawed process is going to produce a Godfather or a Heaven’s Gate.

I think Matthew Vaughn was probably smart to pass on the Kick-Ass sequel but I’m equally glad to hear that he’s prepping to do both a Hit Girl/Big Daddy prequel and a Kick-Ass 3.

And I’m totally stoked to see Cage resume the role of Big Daddy, but I am wondering where they’re going to get a replacement for Chloe Grace Moretz.  She obviously won’t be able to play a pre-teen Hit Girl.  That’s going to be tough because part of the charm and magic of the first movie came from her performance.

Anyway, it’s good to hear that Vaughn isn’t “happily done” with the Kick-Ass story and that Kick-Ass 2 didn’t necessarily kill the franchise.


Imagine if you went to the movies and saw something intense like Fury Road. Then you came home and turned on a double overtime football game.  And then, just to wind down before bed, you watched an episode of Arrested Development.

At some point, you would be gasping for relief.  Intensity is best taken in small samples surrounded by dull patches of otherwise unremarkable time.  You don’t want every entertainment experience to be an 11 any more than you want to pour hot sauce over everything on your plate — and if you do, stop using the second floor bathroom. You’re ruining it for the rest of us!

I have to admit that after a long day of using my brain for work and then a long evening of using my brain for writing (or editing or cover design or publishing or advertising) I have a tendency to choose the least challenging show on my DVR.

I mean, I’m not saying I’ve watched 2.5 Men or anything but I’ve definitely passed over The Americans for an episode of Person of Interest – a show I “watch” while checking Facebook on my iPad.  It was never a very good show but for a couple seasons it raised interesting questions about artificial intelligence and its role in human society.  Mostly now it’s just serial exposition between running firefights.

Or The Big Bang Theory.  I definitely watch that over Mad Men if I’m tired.  Mostly, I just watch baseball.


I overheard two guys arguing about whether they would have sex with a Centaur the other day and it was obvious from the way they were going back and forth that one of them was thinking of the… Read More


How was I not aware this was happening?  They’re rebooting Doom?  It’s the most realistic rendering engine I’ve ever seen?  The game play looks amazing? And I’m just finding out about it now?

Five Bloody Minutes of Doom

I’ve watched this at least ten times so far.

The Creator Class

I read an article the other day about the coming of “Managementware.”  That’s right, companies out there are trying to automate the job of being a phlegmatic asshole who won’t approve a purchase request for a new headset even though he expects me to take calls from China in the middle of the night.

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Escher logic going on in Austin. No matter how much it rains, the drought never officially ends. It’s the Hotel California of water crises


As the world’s bestest president ever once said, “Fool me once, shame on me…(awkward pause that goes on so long the audience begins to worry he’s choking on his own tongue)… well, you just aren’t going to fool me again.”

For me, the original Terminator movie was an awakening. It was the first time I realized it was possible to tell a moving, emotional story inside of the crazy fun-house of an action movie.  I watched that VHS tape so many times I nearly erased it.

Terminator 2 was the breaking of a second seal.  Whereas most sequels just tell the same story as the first movie in a different location (see every Die Hard movie after the original), the second outing in the Terminator franchise told a completely different story.  It also managed pull off something I would have thought was impossible: the protagonists have a relentless killing machine, an actual T-800 for God’s sake, on their side, and they’re the underdogs.

Rise of the Machines wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t anything new.  Salvation, however, was a complete mess.  I remember walking out of the theater and asking my buddy, “Did they lose a reel?”

“They don’t use reels anymore.  It’s all digital.”

“Maybe it was cloudy,” I said.  “When it’s really cloudy my satellite gets all confused.”

“No, I think we saw the movie they intended.”

“No one could have intended to show that movie.”

So let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that Salvation was Hollywood fooling me once and that the stills the Genisys team released a few months back gave me the very strong impression they were out to fool me again.  They looked awkward and phony and very much like they came from a Direct to Video production by someone like Roger Corman.

NOTE: Before you click on the link to the trailer I inserted below, know that I only watched a few minutes of it before I realized it was one of THOSE trailers where they give away the entire movie.  My advice is don’t click on it, but the choice is yours.

The new trailer on the other hand, has me interested in possibly being fooled again.