Yes I’m back on this. I can’t start a project and let it fail after only completing 2/79 parts. It would be much more my style to have it fail after completing 76/79 parts. Also I personally own so many Star Trek t shirts that every morning as I get dressed I feel guilty for letting this series fall by the wayside and I have enough guilt for actual bad things in my life.
So the Savage Curtain. If there were one item to epitomize what was wrong with Season 3 it would have to be Abe Lincoln in space (yes, the suicide planet, hippies in space, and telekinetic Greeks all have their place but this one is at the top. For the record Spocks Brain was at the end of Season 2). Honestly, how does having Kirk and Spock dream up good guys and bad guys and get into a fist fight with them tell the turd monsters (sorry, the Excalbians)? What if Kirk had slipped on a rock and broke his skull open, leaving the Excalbians understanding of good and evil to a minor twist of fate?
(Honestly I don’t think good and evil are that hard to understand. I have an understanding and am happy to have chosen ev…I mean good!)
For that matter, who appointed Kirk and Spock as the universal representatives of good? Wasn’t it established in The Enemy Within that Kirk is comprised of both good and evil parts? I’d say a laundry list of intergalactic booty calls and half breed alien bastard children might have a thing of two to say about him from a moral perspective. Didn’t he let a super hot innocent girl walk in front of a truck in order to save his future? What about the other future full of people that he just destroyed? And Spock would let 1,000,000 people die if it meant saving 1,000,001 people. Not a lot of morality in that equation.
Finally, the real problem with this episode is they were really running out of ideas and opted to just remake Arena without the Gorn. I’m not saying I hate this episode. Only that the signs that the series was running out of steam were pretty strong. I sometimes wish for a fourth season but really when you think about it this shows the trend. Who knows what bad ideas would have arisen in season 4? A racist cartoon rabbit that talks with a lisp? Kirk being replaced by a captain with no hair? A complete reboot where the entire universe gets more stupid and Star Wars-y with no nod towards Gene Roddenberry’s vision? No, in those halcyon days such things were decades in the future.
Ever wonder what a rated R action movie is supposed to look like? Now you can find out.
Wow. That pretty much sums up this movie in a word. Easily the best action movie I have seen in years, possibly decades. On par with Die Hard, First Blood, Lethal Weapon, or any other top action movie (even the Road Warrior, and if you know me you know that is saying a lot). This film takes the crime action and martial arts genres and melds them seamlessly with great characters and some of the most amazing action camera work ever.
Let me talk a little about the camera in this film. Most action films plant the camera at mid range and then use dumb quick cuts to generate action. If they want to make the audience feel like they are in the scene they don’t use a steady cam and let the Blair Witch effect take over. However, as jumbled up as you may be in a fight scene your eyes don’t really jitter around like that. What this movie does is incorporates the camera into the fight choreography, dodging in an out, panning with the fighters, diving in, and placing you in the action better than anything else I have ever seen. The last time I felt that close to a fight I was one of the ones fighting. Truly great.
The martial arts is also great. The film is Indonesian (with my new favorite director Gareth Evans. Sorry Scorsese. He has also done Footsteps and Merantau, both of which I am going to track down) and most of the stars are experts in Pencak Silat. There are no dumb wire fight scenes. All the fighting seems really cool and brutally realistic. Even the gun action is great.
The story is of young Rama (Iko Uwais-Merentau is his only other film credit), a new officer leaving his pregnant wife after a short training montage to join his team of elite cops. They are raiding crime lord Tama (Ray Sahetapy-Dilema, Demi Dewl, Jinx), a brutal man who rules his 30 story slum tenement filled with the scum of the earth with an iron hand. He has two main henchmen: amazing martial artist Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian-Merentau. He and Iko did the fight choreography) who lives only to fight, and brain man Andi (Doni Alamsyah-Fiksi, Merentau, Hearts of Freedom), and an army of thugs and psychopaths. The cops stealth into the building, taking out spotters and guards as they progress, but are spotted. Tama wakes up the whole building and all hell breaks loose.
After the initial gun fight sequence (started off in the dark in the coolest way possible) this movie shifts gears smoothly from action to survival/horror. Granted, none of the bad guys are zombies (that we know of) but a lot of really cool horror elements are incorporated, like good guys hiding around the corners while the bad guys are tapping their machetes along the wall looking for them. The survivors of the first big fight split up. Rama is trying to save the life of his injured friend Bowo (Tegar Satrya-Negeri 5 Menara) while his Sergent Jaka (Joe Taslim-Rasa, Karma) head in a different direction with Lt. Wahyu (Pierre Gruno-True Love, London Virginia, Ekspedisi madewa) and another red shirt (Dead Man Walking image courtesy of the Star Trek T-Shirt category).
This is where the martial arts action really unfolds. Rama kicks and punches his way through a corridor of bad guys (and to anyone who thinks there was too much of the fighting, or that some of the fight scenes went on too long, it is obvious you have never really developed an appreciation for martial arts movies. Perhaps you should go see the Lorax). Some cool plot twists develop, although if you are here for an amazing story I think you walked into the wrong theater.
The stars. Amazing action. Three stars. Really great camera work. Three stars. Fight choreography that is second to none. Two stars. For the most part really good characters, especially the villains. One star. Overall a wonderful film experience. Three stars. Total: twelve stars.
The black holes. I hate giving any, as I loved this movie on almost all levels, but have to be honest. The story was pretty simple and even the plot twists no big deal. One black hole. Some of the dialog felt forced and artificial, especially the cussing. This film was written in English and translated for the actors to speak in Indonesian. It felt culturally out of place. One black hole. I could give a third for some cheesy CGI blood, but honestly it was hardly noticeable. Two black holes.
A grand total of 10 stars, one of the best scores I have given in a long time. Should you see it? Abso-freaking-lutely. You will have to look hard for it since American theaters won’t show anything that doesn’t have Brad Pitt or the like in it, but it will be worth the search. See it in a theater to encourage other good movies to be made and released here. Date movie? Hell no, but drag her ass to see it anyway. If she puts up with it you know she’s a keeper, and who knows? You might awaken a sleeping love of martial arts movies in her and you next date could be a Bruce Lee marathon. Even if she dumps you at least you have exposed her to a great film, thus incrementally increasing the culture level of this country.
The one thing that drives me nuts about this film is not the movie itself but rather that it painfully illustrates how lame the vast majority of Hollywood action extravaganzas are. Action isn’t about how many explosions you can fit into ten minutes of film or who has the biggest CGI budget. It’s about the action. This film is like the svelte, athletic person entering a room full of fat people. All of a sudden everyone in the room just looks fatter. They are already working on an American remake and I would bet a large sum of money that it will not be half as good.
Thanks for reading. Go see this movie. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu or email me with suggestions or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a comment about this film feel free to post it here. Something came out recently called Intruders with no fanfare that looks creepy as hell. I might go see it tonight. Talk to you soon.
And a 2011 movie recap.
So I have been working on my movie awards (the Nerdies) and in preparation for this created a data base of all the movies I reviewed last year. It was a lot. 90 movies, to be precise. Kind of a staggering amount, and I saw a lot of crap and a lot of good stuff. If you are interested in any of these reviews (most are pretty good in my less than humble opinion) you can choose the month on the right and scroll until you find it, or just search it out on Google. Here is the list:
So no movie to review, and I have been promising to finish my Star Trek movie retrospective, but the problem is I am up to Generations and have been repressing that one like a childhood memory of molestation. I have had a tough couple weeks, especially in the dating world, and have decided to do something that I know will put me in a good mood and a smile on my face: my top 10 best TOS episodes of all time.
The hardest part was actually narrowing it down to 10. My short list had 22 on it (and to be honest, my long list has 79 if you know what I mean) and I have spent a lot of time thinking about the episodes and what they all mean to me. You will notice I am more inclined to go with the darker episodes, so don’t hate spam me with questions like “Why didn’t you have The Trouble with Tribbles or Shore Leave on here?” Those were fun, but the cute episodes I consider pretty light weight compared to these others.
10. The Conscience of the King. This one doesn’t appear on a lot of top 10 lists, but I loved it. Dark and sinister, with Kodos the Executioner trying to repress his past and redeem himself in raising a pure daughter in the arts, with characters from his past wanting to hunt him down. I think my favorite scene is when Kirk has Anton Karidian read the proclamation Kodos made at the execution of the colonists, although his death scene at the end of the episode was great too. “The revolution is successful, but survival depends on drastic measures. Your continued existence represents a threat to the well-being of society. Your lives mean slow death to the more valued members of the colony. Therefore I have no alternatvie but to sentence you to death. Your execution is so ordered. Signed, Kodos, governor of Tarsus Four.”
9. The Gamesters of Triskelion. I know. Kind of dopey and campy. But as a kid I used to love the Star Trek fight scenes, and this one is full of it. Also, if you want to see Kirk at his macho, over the top best, this is the episode to use. Plus, I had many a young teenage fantasy about the green haired girl in the silver lame’ bikini. (episode images all courtesy of the Star Trek t shirt category). Plus, this episode introduced us to Quatloos, a form of currency I plan to use to replace all other money when I conquer this pathetic planet.
8. Charlie X. Wow, even putting these in order is hard. I have a good idea what is going to be my number one and two, but this one was hard to place. Poor Charlie. Honestly, nothing wrong with him other than the normal hormones all teenage boys are subject too. That and unimaginable power with no behavior governor. Anyone else get bothered by the fact that the Thasians were able to return Yeoman Rand but Yeoman Tina Lawton seems to remain an iguana and the guy in the gym, Sam, remains lost in the nether? It goes to show you don’t have to be on an away mission to suffer the fate of all no name red shirts. Anyway, when I was first really into Star Trek I was feeling pretty alienated from all my peers (plus a bunch of other guys who really weren’t my peers at all), so the plight of Charlie at the end really spoke to me. When he fades out of sight at the end I feel really sad.
7. The Galileo Seven. This one was all Spock, all the time. He is in command and it is his call to deal with his dwindling crew and the giant creatures attacking them. You get to see into his logical mind deeper than most episodes. I especially loved his argument at the end of the episode where he makes the claim that he had logically concluded that the only recourse left was to act in an illogical manner. Awesome.
6. the City on the Edge of Forever. I told you at the beginning the I am drawn to the darker episodes, and there is absolutely nothing happy about this one. Dark and grim, with Kirk having to make horrible choices in order to protect the future as he knew it. Also, I would like to mention that everyone acknowledges Star Trek for inventing the cell phone, but the fact is they also came up with the iPad (or just tablet) in this one. Spock uses his tricorder to record the historic tracts the Guardian is showing him and then later replays them on the screen. Steve Jobs, Gene Roddenberry has beat you out once again.
5. Amok Time. Yes, I know. This is the penultimate episode and should be higher up, but my placement is for this is not about this one being bad as the next four being amazing. Greatest fight scene of all time, and proof that Kirk can lose to someone (Spock actually beats his ass on two separate occasions). Still not sure how they got that script past Shatner’s ego. Anyway, some really cool Spock moment. I love the cello music they play whenever he is doing all his Vulcan meditation.
4. Arena. Does it say something about my brain that three of these 10 are about personal combat? I really was born in the wrong millennium. Anyway, Arena is all good with no fluff. The Gorn captain is so cool, and Kirk gets to show all his best shoulder rolls and flying kicks, to no effect. What do you really think kicking a walking alligator is going to do? Kirk gets to explore his resourcefulness, and in the end proves what noble creatures humans are at heart.
3. Spectre of the Gun. Wow. Star Trek managed to find a way to get cowboys in space in a cool way (eat your heart out, Joss Whedan). Not only that, but they did it during the dreadful third season (we don’t need to talk about Abraham Lincoln in space). The whole virtual reality concept was literally decades ahead of its time, and really led to an amazing story. They added a little camp at the end when Kirk feels the need to beat the hell out of what is effectively a figment of his own imagination, but the scene where the crew is standing in front of the Earps as bullets pass harmlessly through them will always remain with me. (I am, by the way, a huge Firefly fan. I’m just saying Star Trek beat them to it)
2. Space Seed. Even putting aside the fact that this episode led us to the Wrath of Khan, this was such an awesome story that it makes my face hurt from smiling thinking about it. The great Khan Noonien Singh (great name, by the way. If any of you are having a child soon I recommend considering it) in all his super human glory. This show also featured excellent examples of the crew’s discipline and loyalty. Even Lt. McGivers comes around once the love glow faded and she remembered her duty.
1. Balance of Terror. When the TOS episodes started to become available in DvD but before you could buy entire seasons, this was one of the few I bought. I could watch this episode over and over again. Great space battles (in all their Das Boot glory) but more importantly, a steady buildup of tension that very few other shows or movies can possibly match. First time I watched this I was rooted to the screen, my whole body tingling. Not only that, but you really feel a connection with the Romulan commander unlike any other villain in the series. When he is forced to eject the body of the Centurion I was honestly moved.
Furthermore, this episode deals with stuff normally excluded from the shows, including Federation politics and inter species racism. As an aside, the Romulan commander was played by Mark Leonard. He later played two other different Star Trek rolls, being the only actor to portray three different characters in the series. Can you name the other two?
Anyway, I know there is any amount of argument that could go on here. This is the list for me, however. Feel free to respond here or sent me a message on Twitter @Nerdkungfu (follow me too, dammit. I need followers). I am willing to discuss episodes until the cows come home.
OK, you sent out about 100(,000,000) emails to assorted women and got one back. Your job is now to keep the conversation going until she is comfortable enough with you to agree to meet up.
This is actually a lot harder to do than you would think. The problem is if you exchange too many emails she will either get bored or come to the conclusion that you have something to hide (missing limb, frequent and fragrant flatulence, etc). It’s like trying to drop excess weight to keep a helium balloon from going down in piranha infested water and the only thing you have left to drop is your excess blood. You have to balance out enough weight lost without bleeding to death (while the piranhas get driven into a frenzy by all that blood dripping into the water).
Honestly, I tend to treat this like I would going for the first kiss while dating. 3-5 emails seems to be the correct number. Each email needs to both tell her something about you (not too much) and keep her interested enough to reply. The best thing to do seems to be to ask her a few questions about herself related to her last email while answering her last set of questions with as few details as possible. By the way, if she is not asking you questions than odds are she is just killing time at work. You can probably let the thread drop.
The thing about these is never volunteer extra information. You need her to feel like you are doing her a favor even telling her your name. Also, by keeping detains low you will intrigue her and make her want to see you face to face, where the implication is you will be more forthcoming. If you give here everything she has no reason to email you again.
Here are a few examples.
She asks: “Where did you go to college.” The correct answer would be “UC Irvine. Where did you go?” The incorrect answer would be “UC Irvine. I studied studio art. It’s kind of boring but I had some fun. All my best friends came from there, and my frat voted me “Most likely to bazooka barf on Yeager” three years in a row.” See, if you had gone with the first answer she would have been forced to email you again with questions like “What did you study? Did you like it? Have you ever projectile vomited while drinking Yeager?”
She asks: “Did you have pets as a kid?” and you answer “We had a cat and a dog.” She will then ask stuff like “What kind of dog? Is he still alive? Is there the slightest chance he’s actually a werewolf trapped in canine form?”
See how that works? Answer her questions, but leave the subject open for more questions.
Also be sure to ask her questions. Never get too specific or detailed or she will conclude you are likely a stalker of some kind (probably correctly). Here are some innocuous questions you can feel free to use. “Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school? What did you major in? Do you have any brothers or sisters? What do you do? Do you like it?”
The one thing to remember is any details you are given you will have to remember and reference when you do meet here, so don’t do too much or you will strain your brain.
Incidentally, this exchange is exactly like the game point in a tennis (or, for the less athletically inclined readers, ping pong) match. You hit the ball into her court, she returns, rinse and repeat. If the ball gets dropped for any reason it’s game over. If she fails to respond to your last email you must have butchered it and no amount of “Hey, you never replied to my last email. Everything OK?” will get the ball bouncing again. Go back to spamming new girls.
That’s it for today. I think it safe to assume most of you actually communicate better via email than in person so I won’t burden you with too much detail. Next post we will talk about actually meeting with your girl.
I want to mention real quick that this weekend I will be at the Star Trek Convention in San Francisco this weekend and will very likely be wearing this Star Trek red T shirt just because I like to live dangerously. This show will feature the vaunted Leonard Nimoy as well as the great Michelle Nichols, so if you are in the Bay Area be sure to stop by and say hi. I will have a new girl working with me on Saturday as well so if you see a cute nerdish girl there while I am trying to get Nimoy’s autograph be sure to say high to Angela.
Yet more odeak translations. I seem to have a never ending supply of these.
“Social drinker.” Unfortunately this is a suspiciously vague term. It can easily mean someone who has a drink while out on a Friday night, or a glass of wine with a nice dinner. The problem is no one is ever going to put “Alcoholic” in their profile and will usually default to this term, so it can also be a prelude to Leaving Las Vegas. You will have to dig deeper.
“Love to party!” For a girl this is just what it says. She gets bored easily and wants to hit a different club every night. Expect all kinds of fun and exciting adventures of the “and then I wrapped my car around a tree” variety. The good news is you will never have to have a serious discussion with her about your feelings. The bad news is she will probably get bored of you pretty easily and run off with a guy with a better car. For guys, this usually is a code word for alcoholic or drug addict.
“Love to dance!” Most women love to dance, so this is a bit of a catch phrase. Honestly, don’t read too much into it, unless it is combined with “Love to Party” in which case there is a pretty good chance she is a stripper. Most men hate dancing, so if a guy uses this it probably means he is kind of a phony and trying to impress women. If he honestly likes dancing double check to make sure you aren’t actually in the “Men seeking Men” category. If he is strait and claims this to be honest you are required to test it to the max by dragging him to every dance club within 20 miles to see if he has the stamina and can actually dance.
“Love sports.” If this is a woman, it is very likely she grew up with multiple older brothers and is kind of a tom boy. This is great, but be aware that she is probably both willing and capable of kicking your ass. This can also be the phony equivalent of a guy claiming to love dancing, so if you meet her and she seems kind of girly ask her if she knows how many points a touchdown is worth (6, for those of you who don’t actually follow sports). If this is a man than this guy has burned out multiple women in his dating history by choosing sports over his relationship and is desperately hoping to meet a girl who will sit there quietly watching football with him and get him the occasional beer.
“Love to travel.” For both men and women this is the equivalent of a station identification. It really means nothing. Everyone loves to travel. However, be aware that both men and women who travel by themselves or with one or two friends of the same gender are generally going to other countries to have casual sex with foreigners (or locals, depending on how you look at it). I would find out what countries the person has traveled to with what people and compare it to this article on Dating Guys and Girls in Foreign Countries. If a guy tells you he loves to visit Thailand or Brazil make him wear two condoms. If a girl tells you France or Italy you do the same.
“Very sensual.” I’ve never seen a guy use this description, but this is usually code speak for women that means really horny. This is great, but be aware that this is often a phrase used by prostitutes and people that want to spam you with sex site emails, so be aware. Women can more or less assume all guys are really horny.
“Really into my work.” For women this can often be translated into “I work too many hours and am feeling frustrated by my personal life. My biological clock is ticking away and in order to be a complete person I need to have a child as well as be wildly successful in my career.” If you date her you can expect a lot of scheduling conflicts and hassles getting her alone, but when you do she will probably jump your bones. If a guy uses this phrase he is probably married and looking for a mistress. Expect a lot of booty calls.
“In graduate school working on my masters or PhD.” Find out what field. If it’s business, law, or something technical than cool. If it is something in humanities than expect to have him or her never be gainfully employed. Also, if this is a second or more post-graduate degree he or she is working on than odds are this person is a perpetual student and in addition to never getting a real job has probably never had a real job.
That’s it for today. Tomorrow I will talk about specific jobs and careers on profiles and what they translate into.
Yesterday’s question, Sandmen versus Red Shirts, is a puzzler. The fact is the Red Shirts are actually trained for combat, while the Sandmen are trained to hunt down single people running away with a red crystal flashing on the palm of their hand. However, Red Shirts are the Three Stooges of combat, and tend to die with alarming regularity. I will have to bet on the Sandmen. (Red Shirt image courtesy of the Star Trek Red t shirt category).
Today I will shift from Star Trek and ask what would happen if a squad of Sandmen went against half a squad of Stormtroopers from Star Wars. Who would win?