Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Beating the Holiday Slump?

Apparently, December is a terrible month for me to blog. I know where some of my time went, but surely there was time to write more than I did, right? October was so good to me. Why couldn't that continue? Obviously, I blame a combination of the economy and the Socialist agenda in this county. So with that, I present the last of my Netflix Roundup's for the year (perhaps even my last post?). This may be one of my most diverse collections of films yet for this feature (at least in terms of genre).

Red State -- Kevin Smith
I never really cared for Kevin Smith as a director. I really like Chasing Amy and somehow accrued Clerks, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back but those all leave me pretty cold. Kevin Smith the man always seemed affable enough and you have to respect someone who makes personal movies. Somewhere along the line, though, he became kind of a dick. Maybe he was always a dick and his sense of humor and charisma glossed it over, but he got mixed up in various controversies and hasn't recovered. His actions regarding the sale of Red State are a mix of P.T. Barnum and being a straight up ass, weighing more heavily to one side depending on how you feel about the man. Of course, maybe he was insecure about the sale of his movie because it fucking sucks! Smith never had much of a visual style, but the lack of one in a genre movie has the ability to crush the impact. Instead, he gets really crappy footage from the RED camera (aside from looking terrible, every time there is a fast camera move, the image is choppy) and sacrifices suspense for surprise and deus ex machina while half of the movie is told via Special Agent Exposition (played by John Goodman). Several plot points make no sense and the dialogue is ridiculously overwrought while saying very little (the only other writer more in love with his words is Tarantino). It's like Smith got so wrapped up in making a "brutal" horror movie that he forgot to include anything else but the "brutal" elements. This is an out-and-out terrible movie.

Tyson -- James Toback
I don't want to take the comparison too far, but I can't help but think of this movie as The Fog of War, except featuring Mike Tyson. It's largely Tyson, sitting on a couch, telling his life's story. Obviously, with a structure like this, we're only getting one side of the events, but that's all the movie (and, hopefully, the viewers) is interested in. It's easy to see why he became a joke, but to hear him recount these events (Robin Givens, the ear biting) is near heartbreaking. His lisping, high-pitched, nasally voice makes him sound dumb, but clearly he's not. As someone who never saw him in his prime (aside from as the ultimate fight in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out), the movie gave me a lot of respect for the man. As with any of these "rise and fall" type of lives, it's easy to forget that, in many cases, the person is insanely young during the rise and some people simply aren't equipped to handle that. It's nice to see Tyson portrayed as something other than a joke.

Caged Women -- Bruno Mattei
It's rare that I don't watch every movie that comes to me via Netflix. In this case, the DVD was a double feature of Caged Women and Women's Prison Massacre. After watching the former, I didn't have the stomach for the latter. Not because I was disturbed, but it was too... damn... BORING. Holy christ! How can people watch this stuff? Once again, there's tons of nudity, but who cares when everything else is so bad. The women-in-prison genre basically remakes the same movie every time, so my hopes for WPM dashed. There are a few more produced by Roger Corman that I want to check out and Jonathan Demme directed possibly the definitive film (plus there's the one with Linda Blair), but my enthusiasm is waining. On the plus side, Black Mama, White Mama was pretty good and Pam Grier is in a few more, so... optimism?

Pontypool -- Bruce McDonald
Pontypool is a movie I think everyone should see just so I can talk to them about it. I'm not sure it makes sense or that I like the execution, but I like the set-up, it's single locale and insular perspective, and the take on zombie conventions (though I'd never call it a zombie movie. NEVER!). It's one of those movies that you don't want to know too much about going into it. Let the movie take you where it goes and then contact me so we can chat about it.

Casualties of War -- Brian de Palma
My love of Brian de Palma grows. With the exception of Scarface, from '74 to '89, the man doesn't really have a misstep in my eyes (I've yet to see Obsession, Wise Guys, and all of The Untouchables in that timespan). Michael J. Fox' performance is terrific hurt only by the fact that you never really believe there is a risk of him backing off of his belief and raping the kidnapped girl (oh... the movie's about a group of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam who kidnap and rape a Vietnamese woman). I mean... it's Michael J. Fox! Alex Keaton! Marty McFly! So there's a bit of missing drama in that the we don't think the peer pressure will get to him. But the real flaw of the movie is Sean Penn. I don't know where he got his accent for this role, but it's terrible. He sounds like a cartoon character (I would love for someone to make a montage of the various voices Sean Penn performs with in his movies. It would be hilarious. I'd do it myself, but I can't spend that much time watching Penn or I'll go insane). The film also illustrates the difficulties to be a dissenting voice in such a strict institution. You want to talk about personal responsibility vs. people acting under orders? It's not always as easy as it sounds. Casualties of War is awesome and even overcomes the cheesy flashback "dream/remembering" structure.

One, Two, Three -- Billy Wilder
This is about as madcap and screwball as a relatively modest story can get. The setup is pretty deliberate, but the payoff is tons of fun. A Coca-Cola exec in Germany is supposed to watch over his boss' daughter, but she goes off and marries a Communist and her parents are flying in. There's lots of fun mockery of Communism and Capitalism and playful back and forth. James Cagney rules as Mac MacNamara, carrying much of the movie and delivering an impossible amount of dialogue. It's neat to see him in a comedy role and doing so comfortably. It's amazing to me that people can write dialogue so witty and fast-paced.

Who Is Harry Nilsson (and Why's Everybody Talking About Him)? -- John Scheinfeld
Basically, if you like Harry Nilsson, this is interesting because it reveals a lot about the man and his struggles/troubles (particularly fun feeling about his night out with John Lennon and the Smothers Brothers show). If you don't know who the man is, you should watch this to get a sampling of him music, because the man was amazing. Most people know him for Everybody's Talkin' from Midnight Cowboy or Put the Lime in the Coconut, but he's so much more (as my cousin pointed out, he beat "Fuck You" by nearly 40 years).

In the end, everyone could use a little more Nilsson in their lives, so you might as well watch this.

Insidious -- James Wan
Better than you'd think. The film probably met a lot of resistance because it's from the creators or Saw and while it suffers from a lot of modern horror conventions in addition to being just a little bit too flashy, Insidious is fairly affective. There are some conveniently knowledgeable characters who, while they don't know things for sure, are surprisingly accurate in their assertions, but basically, the movie is a good creepy time and bucks a few of the old haunted house tropes without being openly aware (read: meta) about it. In some ways, maybe that's why Insidious plays so well. At it's core, it's got an old-fashioned feel mixed in to the modern look. Double bonus: a lack of obnoxious, irrational characters.

Walker -- Alex Cox
All I can say is, "Damn you, Alex Cox." I spend an hour and ten minutes watching your movie and think of it as one thing, then during the last half hour, you reveal to me that it's something else entirely. Now I have to watch the damned thing again because I'm more than certain I didn't "get" it the first time. There are hints along the way, but it's not exactly easy to put it all together until the end. Fortunately, of all of Cox' films, Walker is my favorite, so watching it again won't exactly be a chore (though I'm finding that Ed Harris is a little tiresome to watch. He's always playing the same disposition). This is definitely a movie you don't want to read too much about before seeing it. In fact, I'll add it as the second movie I've ever seen that I felt the need to watch it again right away to better digest it (the first was Mulholland Drive).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Weird Al Time Lapse

I've never kept it a secret that, as a 29-year old, I'm still a huge Weird Al fan (not to be confused with a huge metal fan). I've only seen the man in concert once, at Hershey Park years ago (I think it was the Bad Hair Day tour), and it was amazing. People who dismiss Weird Al for being too silly or for kids have no idea how dynamic, funny, and complicated his stage shows are. There are loads of costume/makeup changes and the band is a well-oiled machine up there. I need to see him live again.

Which brings me to this time lapse of the set up and tear down on his most recent tour (set to Hardware Store, my karaoke white whale). It's awesome and you get a brief sampling of his stage show. Stick this in your eye holes and love it.

h/t Weird Al

Thursday, December 8, 2011

People In Cars, Alone

I ride my bike nearly everywhere in Portland unless I'm traveling with my pregnant fiancee or going somewhere where I know my panniers won't be enough carrying capacity, like for grocery shopping (note to self: add cargo bike to wedding registry). On these bike rides, which mostly consist of going to the climbing gym and to work, I've compiled a lot of circumstantial data that a vast majority of people driving around town are driving alone. This makes me crazy. Portland is not a big city and is very easy to get around via bike and we have above average public transportation. There is no reason for so many people to be driving around alone (the sheer number of solo drivers I see everyday leads me to believe that it's statistically unlikely that everyone is going to the grocery store or other such errands where they need the extra car space).

So I was glad to see that my observations are correct. The numbers on this report boggle my mind.
Is it laziness or are we such a car-centric culture that it doesn't even occur to people that here are other options? I've talked to a few patrons at the theater who completely forgot that there is a transit stop two blocks away that is fed by three MAX lines and several buses. And the reason we started talking is that they were complaining about the parking! It feels like people just want to complain about all of the inconveniences of driving and not do anything about it.

It's a shame that people don't realize that not driving saves money, saves aggravation (I rarely have trouble finding parking), and keeps them healthy (which can even save money in the long run due to fewer health costs) among other things.  Of course, one irony we're facing in Portland is that with less people driving, less money comes in through gas taxes and that's less money for PBOT. However, bikes, walking, and buses all mean fewer cars on the road, which means less wear and tear so the roads last longer.

In the end, I just want people to think if they have to go somewhere alone, do they really need to drive?

Just Call Me MacGyver

The other day I locked myself out of the house without my phone or my wallet. I was pretty nervous that I was going to have to wait several hours for my fiancee to get home, so I searched my property for tools to help me regain entry. Having locked myself out once before and failed to break in then, I wasn't confident of my chances. Then I found these:

I felt more than a little like MacGyver. It was awesome.

Note: there were special circumstances to my being locked out that aided me in my break in. To try to dissuade attempts to get into my house without a key, I won't be relaying that information.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

There ARE Good Movies Out There!

I've been embarrassingly absent in writing this month and lord knows the end of the month is going to be a wash. Stupid Christmas. Why must you interrupt my blogging!

If I'm going to keep doing Netflix Roundups, I'm going to have to change my methods. I'm not watching nearly as many movies a week as I used to so waiting to have a collection takes a while and I forget stuff about the earlier movies. For instance, I know I had lots to say about Seed People, but at this point, you're all going to miss out on those brain babies.

Fortunately, since I've finally pulled out of the horror onslaught, the movies got better. It's a shock, I know.

The Osterman Weekend -- Sam Peckinpah
My basic reaction to The Osterman Weekend is that it wasted an awesome cast: Rutger Hauer, John Hurt, Christ Sarandon, Dennis Hopper, Burt Lancaster, and Craig T. Nelson (for some reason, it's always weird for me to remember that he had a career before Coach). I'd mention the women in the movie, but it's Peckinpah and so they barely matter (I'm only half joking). The movie is supposed to be a conspiracy thriller, but there's little that's thrilling about it. Most of the time, people are just talking about the past. I'd rather see that stuff than the conspiracy stuff. It makes some sense that this is Peckinpah's last film since directors are rarely much more than serviceable at the end of their careers. I do wish that I'd watched the documentary about the making of the movie, Alpha to Omega: Exposing The Osterman Weekend, on the DVD. It sounds pretty cool.

Seed People -- Peter Manoogian
From Charles Band's (Puppet Master) production company Full Moon Entertainment and written by the man himself, Seed People is everything you'd expect. Bad acting, bizarre plot, and silly puppetry. There isn't much memorable about the movie (except I think I remember finding one of the actresses attractive). But, as with most of Band's movies, it seems like it was fun to make. Maybe it's the part of me that regrets not making my own special effects when I was younger and that's been fantasizing about working at Jim Henson's Creature Shop, but I had a lot of fun watching the seed people roll around and seeing the design of each one, which is really the only reason to watch Band's movies.

Bacchanales sexuelles -- Jean Rollin
I have no idea why I put this on my queue. The only thoughts running through my head were related to how pointless and ridiculous soft core porn is. Seriously, what's the point in having a seven minute sex scene where the man is thrusting into the belly button of a woman (because, god forbid they accidentally rub genitals while they are simulating sex) and everyone is seeming to have a good time with this except to pad out the run time to a terrible, nonsensical movie? It's watching movies like this where I think back to my thirteen year old self and wonder what his reaction would be to the movie and to my lack of interest. "What are you doing!?!?! BOOBS! Right there! Look at the screen, you fool! GAAAAAAAHHHHHH!' Something like that, I think.

King of New York -- Abel Ferrara
This is my first Abel Ferrara movie and I've got to say, I need to check out more. King of New York rules! This is the type of Christopher Walken I was hoping for in The Prophecy, constantly awesome and constantly present. The man is designed to play a king pin. The cast is stacked, but I'll let you be surprised by everyone who is in it who became incredibly well-known. I'm also very happy that the first link. It won't let me embed and there may be an add before you watch it, but this clip is when I knew I loved this movie.

Heathers -- Michael Lehmann
Heathers has a pretty substantial reputation (Entertainment Weekly ranked it #5 on its list of Best High School Movies). The cult is strong and I was afraid that since I didn't drink the Kool Aid years earlier, it might be too late for me to join (in this scenario, the Kool Aid is for initiation purposes [maybe they peed in it], not killing purposes [or killing porpoises]). There are definitely aspects about Heathers that drive me nuts. It feels like Diablo Cody cribbed some of her dialogue stylings from this movie and Christian Slater couldn't be more obnoxious doing his Jack Nicholson impression. But the satire is strong in Heathers. It's well-observed and the dreamlike style suites the subject matter. Nearly every character is a caricature, but not so much so that the viewer can't relate to the various high school experiences. In fact, the heightened level of reality goes quite well with the heightened teenage emotions. The ending kind of falls apart, but Heathers definitely deserves its reputation. Now, if only Stanley Kubrick had directed like writer Daniel Waters desired. I'd love to see his take on the high school comedy. Kubrick wouldn't have even had to drop another film in lieu of this one since his next movie was Eyes Wide Shut.

Together -- Lukas Moodysson
Fuck Together. Here's why. The movie starts off just like any other stupid personal drama except it takes place in a commune just after Franco is killed. There's a sister that comes to live at the commune with her children because her husband hit her. I hate this type of movie. Then, dammit, I started to care about what happens in the movie! Seriously, what the fuck? Together (Tillsammans in Swedish, which automatically became my favorite Swedish word) is basically plotless, following a large group of people who exist in one space and how their relationships with each other shift. I was set to hate the movie in the first ten minutes and I blame Gustaf Hammarsten for sucking me in because his portrayal of Goren is amazing. He looks like the kind of guy you just want to hug for being a sweetheart but you can see his true feelings in his eyes and it breaks your heart. Ultimately, Together is one of those movies that doesn't drag the viewer down to build them back up. It's realistic relationships that are like any other friendly relationships. Ups and downs, but overall, everyone understands each other's perspective. It's a movie that is designed to make you feel good about humankind with soccer being the ultimate sign of togetherness. You can't help but smile in the end. And I HATE soccer. Fuck Together. It made me feel... emotions.

United 93 -- Paul Greengrass
Speaking of feeling emotions... I'm one of those people who's more cynical about 9/11 than anything else. I see those "We Will Never Forget" stickers and whatnot and think "No shit. Way to be proud about not forgetting when the planes flew into the World Trade Center. Good for you." I hate that 9/11 became a political device and I hate the turn the country took in the aftermath. I didn't lose anyone on that day and if I know anyone who did, they haven't told me. Watching United 93 (and World Trade Center months ago), my reaction almost feels like a defense mechanism. It's hard not to get misty returning to that day, sitting in my dorm room watching the events unfold, talking on AIM with friends, before heading out to Organic Chemistry because they hadn't canceled classes yet (seriously, could the day get any worse). I'll always remember it was a Tuesday because I had my Extended Orientation class that day where we talked about it.

So yeah, United 93 is a tough watch, but it's amazing. I'm kind of fascinated by the structure because it's not at all about character or narrative arcs. Everyone knows what's going to happen even though you still hope the people on 93 will be able to pull up out of the dive at the last minute. The movie many of the points of view from before any of the hijackings to the crash. It's like watching a giant game of telephone where people hear tidbits at a time of what's happening and there's an ominous feeling when it cuts to flight 93 after the planes hit the World Trade Center and they don't know anything about it. This method of communication continues on the flight when they pass on information to each other a row at a time. It's thrilling to watch.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about United 93 is that it didn't make the hijackers into vacant bad guys. They are people and feel nervous before moving and don't have everything under control and are scared and paranoid. The viewer may not sympathize with them, but we can understand what they are feeling.

United 93 is terrific and intense. If I have one complaint, it's the score. I feel that they should have dropped it altogether to match the realism the image is going for. Scores enhance drama, but the drama here doesn't need that. A dynamic use of sound design could have done just as well. That's a minor complaint since the score certainly didn't detract from the movie. Definitely see it.

Peter Dinklage in GQ

I discovered the following pictures via Blogtown, the Portland Mercury's blog. The writer is quite taken with the photos, going so far as making one his computer's background. I, on the other hand, thought the pictures were kind of exploitative. They cry out to me, "Look! It's a little person! With a hot, naked woman! How utterly unusual!"

I get that Game of Thrones is notorious for it's boobaliciousness and I agree that Dinklage is badass in every possible way and deserves to have hot, naked women crawling all over him (if that's what he wants), but these pictures leave a bad taste in my mouth. What says you?


Friday, November 25, 2011

Top Ten Presidential Names

A while ago, I tweeted that I don't think that people appreciate how awesome the name "Barack Obama" is, regardless of politics. It has a great flow, and miss of hard and soft sounds, and just sounds like a powerful name. This made me think about the names of other presidents. The most common are:
George (3)
John (4)
James (5... though 6 if we include Jimmy Carter)

Those may be the most frequently occurring names, but most of the names of our presidents have been horribly conventional. This is my list of the best presidential monikers. I tried my best to divorce politics from the equation, but I'm blessed with a lack of intimate knowledge of some of these people. 

1. Barack Obama
File:Official portrait of Barack Obama.jpg

2. Rutherford B. Hayes

3. Ulysses S. Grant

4. Millard Fillmore
(the only president to have consecutive consonants, maybe even letters, in his first and last name)
File:Millard Fillmore by George PA Healy, 1857.jpg

5. Grover Cleveland
File:Grover Cleveland portrait2.jpg

6. Theodore Roosevelt
(may rank so high because I can't divorce his awesomeness from his name)

7. Martin van Buren

8. Abraham Lincoln

9. Chester A. Arthur
File:Chester A Arthur by Daniel Huntington.jpeg

10. Dwight D. Eisenhower
File:Dwight D. Eisenhower, official Presidential portrait.jpg

Lesson taken from this list: Including your middle initial goes along to making your name sound badass.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My First Time: Castlevania

I had what I thought was a great idea for a recurring feature for this space. There's a vast number of classic video games that I've never played so I thought it'd be fun to play them for the first time and write about the experience. The obvious place to start was to check out the games on the Wii Virtual Console since I can easily download the games, play them with actual controllers (as opposed to using the keyboard for emulators), and as long as I stick with NES games, it's cheap. Spending five bucks a month to have some fun and write a blog post is worth it to me.

The first game up is Castlevania. I owned the second in the series, Simon's Quest, but didn't know at the time or even until a few years ago that it's widely considered to be one of the worst games ever and was actually the Angry Video Game Nerd's first ever review. I never got too far in Simon's Quest and nothing really hooked me into the subject matter, though now I'd probably be all over it. Once Castlevania finished downloading, I was ready to go and quickly realized the problems with this feature...

For one, it's hard to talk about video games without having video (which as AVGN and numerous others show, is already well-worn territory). There's only so much about the experience that can be related through words and if the reader isn't already familiar with the material, then it's even harder. Maybe if I played more video games I'd have a firmer grasp on how to write about them, but I feel like I've already reached my first hurdle.

Secondly, a lot of these early games (and judging by some of the tomes you can buy for new games) there's a lot to be gained from say, a Nintendo Power subscription (or at least back catalogue). I know I never would have accomplished a thing in The Legend of Zelda without some assistance. That assistance also includes the social experience. I know I learned a lot from watching friends play, playing with them, and trading at every death. I'm flying solo through this game and know that there are plenty of secrets that are going unfound because I don't know to look for them. This was certainly the case when I played Super Mario World with a younger cousin. That's not to say the game is a complete mystery as many of these games follow similar tropes. If you have a history of playing video games, it's pretty easy to guess where some of the mysteries are hidden. I'd go to GameFAQs, but that seems like taking the Nintendo Power assistance to an extreme level. It's too much like cheating.

Lastly, I forgot how frustrating these games can be. I'm not very good with one player games to begin with. I tend to get bored if I don't have someone to share the experience with. It starts to feel like I'm just wasting time for the sake of wasting time instead of having fun (with a few exceptions). Add to that the ceaseless repetition of those levels and scenes that you just... can't... get... past... and my tolerance of the experience drops. I was never one of those kids who broke controllers playing video games, but I did get angry at times and frequently blamed the controller for not working right and would throw my hands in the air in exasperation yelling some mild to harsh expletive to the heavens. So, how did Castlevania go?
It was a lot simpler than I thought it'd be game play wise. As far as I know, there are no doors to enter or secret passageways to deal with. Just a basic side-scroller (with occasional scrolls on the y-axis). Weapons are easy to come by and the monsters are straight forward. Things progressively get harder and more hectic which is when frustration begins. There's a strategy to learn as to which special weapon you should keep (the time freezer, the throwing sword, the boomerang cross, etc) and the walls are where the secrets are found, but it's pretty basic.

The biggest surprise of the experience was that it's relatively unexciting. By design, you have to move cautiously, so things slow down quite a bit no matter what the threat is. It's totally unlike Contra or Mario Brothers in that respect (to bring in other side-scrollers). The pace made it feel pretty redundant to me because there's a lot of time to think about how each step of the game feels like the step before. Even when the monsters are overwhelming me, I thought that I died because of my impatience or not hitting the controller at the right time (or mishitting it) and not because the game was actually challenging. Even the point at which I stopped wasn't because I was overwhelmed but because when you get hit by something, it doesn't kill you but it does knock you backwards and I kept getting knocked into holes and fell to my death, which doesn't really feel like it's my fault. It was simply annoying to keep dying due to stuff that felt like it was out of my control.

The music is pretty cool though and writing about it now does make me want to give it another shot since I know more about the gameplay and could probably get much further this time around without having to continue (the continues, thankfully, don't start you back at the beginning of the game and are unending, at least in the Virtual Console version. Much appreciated in lieu of the ability to save). I don't know if I should be surprised that I'm no in love with the game, but it's hard not to appreciate the fact that I can just pick up the controller and play as opposed to any game now where you have to contend with 8+ buttons and any number of variations and combinations of those to do certain things.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shifting Definition?

I got into a semantic discussion with a coworker last night about a word. I've had this exact discussion once before and I understand where they're coming from because in essence, they're right. However, my assertion is that the word's definition has shifted. I come here to offer my point of view and to allow you all to dictate my beliefs. The word in question is euphemism.

The discussion started with me stating that "gash" is a euphemism for "vagina" (as with all semantic arguments, they must feature the basest level of subject matter possible). I was called out for misusing the word in question because at the very least, "gash" is a neutral, if not negative way of regering to a vagina (I acknowledge that our examples may not be the best to use since many people are bashful about saying "vagina" and may actually consider "gash" to be a nicer way of putting it. My personal feelings about the word "gash" lead me to think that's not the case, but it illustrates that some words carry different baggage for different people and therefore inoffensiveness is relative).

My argument is as follows: I would wager that at least 90% of people don't know what the antonym of "euphemism" is and thus have no ability to refer to it when necessary. I certainly didn't, hence why I used "euphemism" in the first place. The antonym/s is/are mentioned in the link above, but if you didn't click it or read that far, take some time to think of what you would an offensive way to phrase an expression (a pretty poor definition, mind you). An example given for this type of thing is "snail mail" instead of postal mail. I wouldn't know what to call that if not a euphemism.

So since the antonym/s (there are three words listed as possibilites, though one specifically makes sense to me as the best antonym) are out of favor in common language, it is my belief that the original definition of euphemism has shifted (or is shifting) to cover the inoffensive, offensive, and neutral categories of substitution. Words are changing and adapting definitions all the time, so I don't see why that can't be the case here, but I could be alone. If that's the case, I will accept defeat with dignity and grace.

Incidentally, the antonym is dysphemism.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pitchers as MVP

Justin Verlander won the MVP award in addition to the Cy Young this year. Good for him. He clearly deserved it. But what shocks me is that there are still people out there who don't believe that pitchers should be considered for MVP. Some say that they already have their own award in the Cy Young award. Others, like Jim Ingraham (quoted at the bottom of this article), believe that pitcher don't play in "79% of their games" likening the situation to a quarterback who only played in three games of the season being named MVP.

Can Ingraham really not see the difference in these scenarios? Does he not understand baseball at all? A pitcher may only pitch once every five days, but when he's playing, he's exerting himself consistently on every pitch of the game. The only other person who touches the ball as much as him is the catcher. The strain on the arm is immense and has done loads of harm to many pitchers. The rest is an essential part of being a consistent pitcher and for having a long career.
Another factor: he looks like a nice guy, too.
Secondly, just because position players play nearly every game, they spend much of the time not participating. And many plays don't require them to give 100% of their effort. They aren't called routine fly/ground balls for nothing. Baseball is a pretty leisurely game that's interrupted by bursts of action. That's one of the appeals of the game for me. As a result, the players have a lot of "idle" time (in quotes because they should still be paying attention). As Ingraham mentions, part of the experience is the 162-game season. Well... who really wears down more? The player playing every game but only needing to exert himself at intervals or the pitcher who pitches 100 pitches every game, many in high stress situations, and can't afford to let up on the intensity at risk of giving up runs.

Plus, just because pitchers have off days doesn't mean they are sitting on a couch eating Cheese Puffs. In my experience, pitchers are required to run more than any of the position players because their position is an endurance one (don't believe me? Try pitching in 95-100 degree heat). They also have pitching sessions to keep themselves loose and to fix kinks in the motion. And let's not forgot all the time they spend studying film of other teams and developing the strategy for their next start.

Pitchers may not play in every game doesn't mean that they should be left out of the MVP race. It's ignorant and asinine. They are as much as part of the team as anyone. As the link above shows, Verlander was tied for league lead in WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player). Therefore, even though he only played in about 21% of his teams games, he added more wins by himself than anyone else on the team. It's times like this that I wish FireJoeMorgan was still churning out new content.

October Leftovers

In preparation for watching horror movies all month long in October, I move about 25 representatives of the genre to the top of my Netflix queue*. Since I dropped my subscription to two DVDs and unlimited streaming, I didn't go through as many DVDs as normal, I had some leftovers and didn't feel like mixing them back in with the rest. Plus, I was looking forward to watching them.

Blood and Black Lace -- Mario Bava
I've by no means exhausted Bava's library of films, but thus far, I'm unimpressed. I acknowledge that he was important and influenced the direction of the genre heavily, but I can't really get behind his particular brand of horror and camp. Basically, his movies are too (unintentionally) silly for me. Part of it is that I don't have much connection to the giallo genre. They are basically all the same movie to me and it feels like there is a cap on how good they can be. My feelings on the genre and Bava aren't enough to put me off watching more, but I don't have the same excitement about approaching them that I used to.

Dead Birds -- Alex Turner
It's funny watching a movie like Dead Birds now because seeing that Henry Thomas (Elliott in E.T.) has lead billing in a recent movie (i.e. one where Henry Thomas is not still a child) over Michael Shannon is absurd. Of course, Dead Birds was released two years before Shannon appeared in Bug which was if not his first starring role, his highest profile role to that date. But just two years before Bug, you can still tell Shannon is a much greater presence that Henry Thomas, who always seems vaguely disinterested in the material. As a whole, Dead Birds is a decent low-budget horror movie with a good cast and some lousy creature effects. Once again, CGI kills low-budget horror more than bad puppets ever would. It's certainly a lot better than the comparable The Burrowers.

Magic -- Richard Attenborough
I can't really express how high my expectations were for Magic. It's directed by Richard Attenborough and I'm fascinated by anomalies in anyone's filmography (in this case, a horror movie). William Goldman wrote the novel and the screenplay. He is the shit. Anthony Hopkins is in it, Jerry Goldsmith did the score, and, shockingly, Ann-Margret exposes herself to the audience. My expectations led me a bit astray. Magic is a lot different than what I was led to believe. I was thinking it was going to be along the lines of the Talking Tina episode of The Twilight Zone and the ventriloquist dummy came to life. However, it's far more subtle than that and I wasn't prepared for it. Magic is more psychological horror than outright horror and I can't knock if for that just because it wasn't what I thought it'd be. I will knock if for the stupid love story angle that's poorly conceived. And I'll knock it once more for not casting Gene Wilder, who apparently everyone but the producer wanted on board. But then, I want Gene Wilder in everything.

Devil -- John Erick Dowdle
Consider this covered.

Sublime -- Tony Krantz
My main interest in Sublime is that it stars Tom Cavanagh who I've like since Ed and loved since I started listening to Mike and Tom Eat Snacks (I would have loved him since Ed, but he always seemed mildly hyperactive and annoying on talk shows, but it appears he was just trying to play to the audience instead of being himself if MATES is to be trusted). Just because I'm a fan of Cavanagh doesn't mean I'm going to rush out to see Yogi Bear, just that I'll take into consideration these efforts that fall outside of my perception of the man. It's the least I can do. I just wish Sublime was better. Aside from a paycheck, I can't really see what attracted Cavanagh to the role. Nearly all he does is lay (lie? I can never get that straight) in bed while stuff happens around him. Often, he's just staring into space. He's like the most passive protagonist ever. Everything happens to him and he initiates nothing. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so clear that what we're seeing isn't exactly what we're getting. We may not know exactly where the movie is taking us, but it's pretty obvious that a particular thing is happening (don't want to spoil it for the curious). In the end, I think Sublime is really trying to tell men to be worried about getting their colonoscopy.

Return to Horror High -- Bill Froehlich
As much as I hate the '80s, the end of them really signaled the end of good, gory, fun horror movies for a while. Much like the Sleepaway Camp sequels and Uncle Sam, Return to Horror High is light on the gore to its detriment. If you're out to make a silly, campy, horror comedy, you need to give the audience something to latch onto just in case the comedy doesn't work. Otherwise, you're just making an unfunny movie without any visceral thrills. It's boring. Return to Horror High almost works. The hooks nearly sink in early and it's bizarre structure is mildly interesting but it's unsustainable. Now, it's most noteworthy for featuring George Clooney in an early role and much like Michael Shannon in Dead Birds or Tom Hanks in He Knows Your Alone, Clooney is clearly better than everyone else (except Alex Rocco who always plays the same character but does it so well) even though he's only around briefly.

Another VHS box I remember vividly from my childhood.

Let's Scare Jessica to Death -- John D. Hancock
File another film in the "Not What I Was Expecting" folder. Let's Scare Jessica to Death is very deliberate and not overtly scary. There's some tense moments and bizarre whispers on the soundtrack but basically the film is building to the final ten minutes. I'm not really sure what happened in those last ten minutes, but that's to be expected when everything is filtered through the eyes of a fragile mind (we're going to pretend that fragile minds have eyes here). The film looks great, but it can be a bit of a slog to get through and there's obnoxious voiceover of Jessica's thoughts that are really obtrusive and inorganic that could have been communicated with looks and cuts. The title implies something sinister, and there may be, but don't go into this film expecting a huge payoff to the title. Interestingly (to me, at least), the director also directed Band the Drum Slowly.

*I rarely adjust my queue because I've no doubt that certain movies would never get watched because I "wouldn't be in the mood" for them. However, I do wish that there was a Randomize button for the queue so that it would mix everything up for you (keeping the TV series as one entity so they don't put the third disc of season three before disc one of season one, of course).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Poor Ron Underwood...

Well this is disappointing. The man who made this:

Also made this (and about four other made for TV Christmas movies since 2006):

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baseball Bits and Pieces

It's halfway through November and I'm in some serious baseball withdrawal. I love the Hot Stove action, but the problem is that news comes in fits and starts. Many of the big moves haven't happened yet and anything else (like Dale Sveum going to the Cubs instead of the Red Sox... more or that later) is worth only about an hour of discussion. However, there are a few things worth talking about and my reaction to them varies.

One article deals with two of these issues (it's how I found out about both. I swear I'm not just poaching someone else's blog post. I SWEAR!). First on the chopping block: The Astros are moving to the A.L. West! Periodically in the past, I'd wonder why one division only has four teams while another has six. It didn't make sense to me. Then I'd remember that there are thirty teams and if they were split down the middle, that would leave two teams in each league dangling without a matchup. Of course, interleague play has been around for a while, so having those teams face each other isn't such a big deal, but having two leagues with fifteen teams doesn't do much to help balance the already unbalanced schedules. A team like the Orioles has to play the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays (all with 90+ wins) over 50 times during the season wheres there was only one 90+ win team in the A.L. Central. Throw in some unlucky interleague pairings and some teams are going to get screwed big time. On the flip side, though I'm not much of a fan of interleague play, I like the idea of having it occur with two teams randomly throughout the year instead of as big chunks of space with forced "rivalry" games.

My solution to all of this is some good, old-fashioned English Football-style relegation. Since it would be asine to add six more teams so each division broke down into six teams each, let's chop it down to 24 teams. The six bottom teams get relegated to the minors while six top minor league teams can join the pros. There's stuff that would need to be worked out to make the system work, but not only does it bring each division to an even four teams, it adds a lot of incentive for the bad teams to keep playing hard. Those end of season Royals-Twins games would be a lot more exciting. Which brings me to...

...The revamped playoff system. I've ranted about this before (ignore all of the stuff about the Red Sox and Braves, if you could) and I still think adding teams to the playoffs is a bad idea. Even at ten teams, MLB would still have the smallest percentage of teams making the playoffs of the four major sports, but having a one game playoff to between to Wild Card teams to see who moves on to the Division Series seems pretty pointless and a recipe for more confusion and additional one-off games. The point of the playoffs is for the elite teams to fight it out for supremacy. The more teams added to the mix, the more mediocrity has a chance to infiltrate the system. But that's not really the big issue. Look how close we came this year to having two ties for the Wild Card spot. Expanding the playoff pool into the pack means that you start getting to that cluster of teams with similar records. Is it that hard to imagine that there could be a tie for the second Wild Card spot? Or even a three-way tie? Now it's not just a on-game playoff, but a one-game playoff to get into the one-game playoff to get into the playoffs. And all of this flies right in the face of having a 162-game season. Why play that many games and get that large of a sample size to have the season literally come down to one game for certain teams? That's the whole point of having a 7-game series (or even a 5-game series). I like this approach to expanding the playoff better than letting four additional teams in, but it doesn't seem in line with the spirit of the game.

Finally, a personal and specific complaint. I don't know what I'll do if the Red Sox hire Bobby Valentine as their manager. He may have had two good seasons with the Mets, but his record doesn't inspire confidence. Plus, his ESPN work shows him to be an idiot and he's volatile presence and we don't need one of those in the clubhouse. Plus, I don't want to have to root for this guy:
Red Sox... please don't do this to me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mr. Ed

I've had the Mr. Ed theme running through my head all day. I'm certain you all remember it as it's probably one of the most famous themes of television history, but here it is as a refresher:

However, I've heard this song untold times. Maybe in the hundreds. But for the life of me, I don't know the lyrics. So, since it's been bugging me all day and I'm mildly amused by them, here are my lyrics (repeat ad nauseam):

A horse is a horse, of course, of course.
Unless, of course, it's a horse, of course.
But then, of course, it'a a horse, of course.
It's the famous Mr. Ed!


Remember when the above trailer first popped up in theaters? Audiences laughed at the appearance of M. Night Shyamalan's name. I distinctly remember titters in the audience when I caught the trailer. But laughter aside, I've always been a little bit intrigued by Devil. Generally, I'm a huge fan of entertainment that takes place in a confined space and the onset of paranoia when bad stuff starts to happen. At no point did I expect Devil to be good, but at the very least, I thought it would be fun. Even though I was intrigued by Devil, I never made an effort to see it until a coworker of mine and I agreed that we'd both watch it. He watched it months ago and has been giving me a hard time about not holding up my end of the bargain. Finally, I gave in.

Devil got mixed reviews at best and it's not surprising why. There's little redeeming about the characters, there's ridiculous narration thrown in to explain events in the story (given by a tertiary character), and the movie is entirely predictable. And for a movie about five people stuck in an elevator, there are way too many characters. The filmmakers try to fit so much into Devil that everything suffers, but worst of all, the ending makes no sense at all (embarking on spoilers).
I won't say exactly which character is the devil, though it's fairly obvious from the beginning, but after involvement in killing off at least five different people (most of whom we're told have a history of crime or being bad people), the remaining person in the elevator confesses to killing to people in a car crash and driving away (those two happen to be the police officer-in-charge's wife and child). At this confession, the devil says, "I really wanted you!" and disappears. Now, I'd have to imagine that this character must have done something else bad in his life if that's the only criteria for the devil killing people. Otherwise, why would the devil have no qualms about killing everyone else and not continue with this guy? It doesn't make any sense. And why would the devil "really want" this particular person? Everything about this ending is stupid. There's no sign that the devil would let someone go because that person confessed to one particular sin that is probably one of thousands.

Even if we keep that ending, as flawed as it is, Devil still could have been salvaged. I first learned of the term "bottle episode" from Community and I think Devil would be much better if it adopted that approach. First, get rid of everything that takes place outside of the elevator. Once the characters are in it, the camera should never leave them. You can still have the voice over the PA and people trying to help them, but the viewer experiences things like the trapped people do. This way, when the guy falls on top of the elevator, we're just as surprised as the characters. With this approach, we can also get to know the characters better because we're not splitting time between them and rescue efforts. Tension can build slower and the viewer gets more claustrophobic. Alliances can shift as everyone become more paranoid. Hell, one of the characters can even be an audience surrogate.

There honestly is a good movie to be found in this concept. It's a shame that the filmmakers couldn't see it. Oh, and even though M. Night Shyamalan gets the "Story by" credit, he basically stole the structure from an Agathie Christie story, "And Then There Were None," and freely admits she inspired him. So, if he didn't actually write Devil and just "came up" with the story, doesn't that really mean that Agatha Christie should get the story nod? Or at least a story nod?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Farewell Community?

Community is off NBC's midseason schedule, a bad sign by any measure. NBC has assured fans that all 22 episodes will air, but this could be the beginning of the end. The show is one of those that has terrible ratings and tremendous critical response and a devoted fan base, which, some may say, means it's for "smart" people. It's endlessly critiquing its form and constantly referencing other forms of entertainment. If it weren't so damned funny, I could see how some might feel alienated by it.
Look at that lovely cast. How could anyone not want to watch them?
Since it does have a devoted fan base, of course there are going to be petitions to save it. When Arrested Development was on the verge of cancellation nearly six years ago, I spent much of its final season signing as many of these petitions as I could. This time around, though, I find myself struggling to care if it gets cancelled or not. Maybe I've spent much of the last decade having my heart broken by the networks to allow myself to get too close. To illustrate this, here's a short list off the top of my head of shows that should have lasted longer: Arrested Development, Party Down, The Tick (live-action), Futurama (before Comedy Central saved it), Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Andy Barker P.I., and Undeclared (why must the American public hate Andy Richter and college so much?).
Oh... maybe this is why.

In reality, shows like Community, Arrested Development, and Futurama were given a decent chance. They got multiple seasons and failed to build an audience for whatever reasons (you could probably base a solid argument around the changing landscape of how people watch TV shows). But I'm happy they lasted as long as they did without much decline in quality (and Futurama is making solid episodes again after those shaky movies). And Community always felt like it shouldn't last for too long. It takes place a community college, for crying out loud. It barely makes sense that Annie hasn't gotten a scholarship to a big school somewhere or that Jeff seems to have forgotten why he's there altogether.

So sign the petition if you must. I won't be sad if it's renewed. It is one of my most anticipated shows of the week. However, if it's not, that just means I have 23 minutes more each week to catch up on one of the dozens of other shows I've neglected.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Costumer Service

For those of you who were looking for a follow-up as to what I did with my Milanoo purchase from the Customer Service post, here you go:

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Department of Tiny Complaints

There's a liquor store not far from my house (one might even call it my "local liquor store") that has a tiny marquee above its entrance. The marquee space is used for "clever" word play combining the nearest holiday with encouragement to buy alcohol for said holiday. For example: Halloween was something like, "Raise your spirits this Halloween." It carries the same vibe as those churches with their own plays on words on their marquees (I've never really understood the purpose of those. Is it to try to get us to attend that church? Like, "hey, they're clever! That's the church for me!" Or is it to preach a little on the street?). They're slightly obnoxious, but easily ignored.

However, the liquor store is displaying one of my biggest pet peeves right now and will be for the foreseeable future. You see, the sign says, "Winter is here, holiday cheer." My issue isn't with the quote being mundane and only kind of, sort of makes sense. It's that WINTER ISN'T HERE! This went up just after Halloween ended (which, kudos to them for changing it. Their Cinco de Mayo message was up for almost a month after the holiday) when there was almost two whole months of fall left.

I don't know why people insist on skipping seasons. Every year, June rolls around and people rejoice that it's summer. But just because it's June doesn't mean summer is here. Just as when August ends, there's still 20-odd days left until fall begins. And most people shouldn't be surprised that they it's not a White Christmas (though some had a White Halloween) because it's barely winter. That White Halloween should show people that weather has very little to do with determining seasons.

And to help those of you out there who routinely ignore this: here you go.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Because I Can't Keep Out of an Argument: Weighing in on JoePa

I don't really care one way or another that Joe Paterno got fired now instead of retiring at the end of the season. I feel bad for him that his legacy will be tainted by the Sandusky scandal, but that's the path he cut for himself. My dad and sister both graduated from PSU as well as many friends. And being from Pennsylvania and living out of state (as well as developing a pretty strong pride in much of what my state offers, mostly food related) I feel a little protective about this whole situation, but in the end, my interest is minimal. I hate the culture around college (and pro) football and try to avoid my Facebook feed on those days because it's like a drill to the brain. But I feel that the people making snap judgments about JoePa are missing a critical thread: Jerry Sandusky and JoePa were insanely close.

Seriously, you can't work with someone for 30 years ('69 to '99) and not be close with them. I'd hazard a guess that during the football season, JoePa and Sandusky spent more time together than with their families. I'm not going to say they were best friends, but I'd say they were very good friends. So my question is this: could you turn in one of your very close friends (perhaps best friend) if you found out they were having sex with underage children?

Most people would probably say yes because they're not in that situation. It's easy to be righteous when there are no stakes. But I've known enough people in my life who have had family or other connections bail them out of trouble with the law without any repercussions to know that there are gray areas in each of our moral compasses. If you found out your child or sister murdered someone, could you turn them in? Maybe, but it would be hard. There's a cognitive dissonance between the person you know and the person he or she turns out to be in these cases.

Paterno didn't see the rape, he was told about it. It's entirely possible he didn't go to the police because he couldn't rationalize his friend doing that to a child. So he goes to his superiors. That way, he didn't do nothing, but he didn't have to turn his back on his friend. I'm not saying it absolves him, I'm just trying to show that the Paterno situation isn't black and white.

My biggest issue with this whole story is that it's mainly getting attention because Paterno has long been lauded as an upstanding man in the community and the sport. He's got the record for most wins and has been and institution himself at PSU since '66 (OK, he wasn't always an institution, but he's been there a while). The real story is that Jerry Sandusky raped children, but that's not interesting because there's no drama. He's guilty. End of story. But Joe Paterno knew about it and did nothing! Holy shit! This guy was supposed to be a pillar of the community. School comes first, and all that. Now it seems he has moral and ethical problems! It's the interesting perspective on the story and will sell more papers/get more web traffic (fingers crossed!). I feel validated by this opinion because, as far as I know, no one has mentioned anything about why the graduate assistant didn't go to the police. He's the one who saw it. He told Paterno just like Paterno told his bosses. Sounds like an apt comparison. But he's a no name, so no one cares if he gets fired (and I don't want him to).

In the end, it's a horrible situation that makes you sick to the stomach. I feel worse for PSU alum and fans (though if they keep doing stuff like this, that feeling might wear off). I'm not going to cry about JoePa's firing and I understand why the fans support him. They aren't wrong to. Sure, there's a fair amount of cognitive dissonance involved, but JoePa's situation isn't nearly as simplistic as the commentators like to think it is.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Treehouse of Bore-er

It's not controversial to say that The Simpsons is nowhere near as good as it used to be. There are a variety of reasons for this: shorter run time, changes in popular types of humor (call it The Family Guy effect), different writers, no more hand-drawn animation (watch something from season 3 and from season 20 and tell me that the crisp image and sharp lines don't hurt the experience. Animation should be fluid), and of course, running out of ideas. Even with all of this, I still watch the show regularly and frequently find it enjoyable though rarely great. Even in the doldrums of the show, the Treehouse of Horror episodes were always highlights. Except for this year.

Like the show the ToH episodes have also been falling in quality. I'd even go so far as to say that they haven't been the same since they moved on from the humorous headstones or at least having any sort of opening credits. The writers also stopped creating any sort of connective tissue like everyone telling scary stories trying to one-up each other, or eating too much candy and having nightmares, or even Bart telling the stories of the paintings. Maybe it's just me, but I like when these stories feel at least a little bit related to the real Simpsons universe as opposed to being an excuse to do movie parodies.

And that's really the biggest problem. When The Simpsons writers used to do ToH episodes, they'd stick with horror or Sci-Fi stories, but now they basically riff on anything they want (which is what The Simpsons used to do very elegantly with their normal episodes). So this year there is a bizarre mashup of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Spider-man and Avatar (there's also a Dexter parody, which kind of works, but it's not that dark and way to rushed). Avatar may be sci-fi, but there's certainly nothing scary about it and the Diving Bell parody shoehorns Halloween into the segment by having Homer putting up Halloween decorations, but it's an afterthought.

There are still so many horror stories to pay homage to. I don't know why they are avoiding them. Christ, as far as I remember, they haven't even done a Halloween parody yet! They've barely scratched the surface of Stephen King and Hitchcock (who, let's be honest, gets enough attention during the rest of the season). There's tons of Poe and Twilight Zone episodes to cull from. It makes me sad that they're wasting their time on Diving Bell and Avatar.

There's also a dip in quality from season 13 to season 14, which happens to coincide with every segment of the ToH episodes being written by different people to having the whole episode being credited to one. Having multiple voices makes it easier to forgive a lacking segment if the others are good. On the commentaries on The Simpsons DVDs, they always talk about how hard the ToH episodes are to make, so I don't know why they are giving it to one person. Especially this year, where not only did writer Carolyn Omine not come up with anything good, but she didn't even know how to end the segments. I almost thought that it was going to be one story instead of the triptych that it normally and we'd rejoin the action coming back from commercial.

The Treehouse of Horror episodes should be fun, scary, and more than a little gory times. At the risk of sounding like an old man talking about how things were better in my day, the writers need to go back to the start and take a good hard look at what makes those episodes so good. But don't take my word for it:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Customer Service

I had a grand idea for a Halloween costume. All I needed was a good base to build on (and some help with the sewing) and I'd be set. The likelihood of me finding said base at a thrift shop was minimal, so I took to the internet and found a reasonable price from Milanoo. I placed my order on October 19 and paid extra for shipping to ensure that it would get to me before the 31st. Their shipping estimate was the 28th at the latest. My order didn't get to me until October 31st at around noon. Clearly not enough time, especially since I was really hoping to have it for zombie trivia on the 30th. As I actively decided to pay extra for the shipping and I didn't get my order until after the date they advertised, I felt I was in my rights for at least a refund on my shipping costs. The following ensued.

First Contact:
I placed my order on October 19 and it shipped on October 22. Even with the 3 days it took to process my order and get it shipped, it still hasn't arrived in the time advertised. It's been nearly 10 days since I placed my order, three over the 5-7 in the order. I paid extra money to ensure that it would be here within that week and your company has failed on that contract. As it stands, the least you can do is refund my shipping costs as the shipment falls outside of the cheaper option, as well.

We have shipped out your package since 2011-10-22 17:07:10 via FedEx.
You may track your package with the number 503130307034  with the link

For we have turned over your package to the shipping company then the delivery is out of our control .
We beg for your understanding and please do not worry about it, they will delivery your package to you later.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.

Thank you again for your support

The link they gave me offered no information about where my package was or anything useful. Just that I ordered the item and that it shipped. And even though it shipped from the UK, you get the sense that perhaps their customer support isn't a native English speaker. I sent another complaint restating my case. Unfortunately, their response copies my original message and not the follow-up, so I can't repost it for you.

Second Response:
We are sorry about the delay.

But the fact is that we have shipped out your package on 2011-10-22 17:07:10 as we promised to you on the confirmation email after you placed the order and it just because for the FedEx promised to us that they could delivery your package to you in 3-5 days that means you could receive your package before the Halloween!
We are not to get rid of our responsibility.
We just want to explain the reason why you have not received your package on due time.

As for we have the direct relationship to you, so we would like to lessen your loss by offering you the discount code which is offered to VIP of our website to you for making up.

Is that OK to you?
Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.

Thank you again for your support

With best regards

I was getting tired of them trying to pass the buck to FedEx. They didn't mention that they'd be using FedEx and as far as I was concerned, my contract was with them. If FedEx screwed up, that was between Milanoo and FedEx. I paid an extra $12 to get my order and I wanted it back. I didn't want to continue doing business with Milanoo. I flat out refused the discount in my response (which is probably best that I can't reprint here because their final response makes me feel a little bad that I commented on the syntax of their responses). I also commented that I thought they were being dismissive of me, especially when I was told, "do not worry about it, they will delivery your package later." On the plus side, I love that they referred to it as "the Halloween" and may start doing that regularly.

Third Response:
OK, we apologize to you for the dismissive attitude and the syntax for we are not the native English speaker so we have no idea that the words has offended you .
We apologize to you and will refund you 11.74 USD for the shipping fee.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.

Thank you again for your support

With best regards

Maybe it's just me, but it really does feel like I insulted them. However, I was getting increasingly annoyed with them and since the customer service phone number was from the UK, I didn't want to have to call it to get my point across. I am greatly amused that from "Please feel free..." to "With best regards" is clearly a form closing and written by someone with command of the language. It's a little jarring reading their response and continuing through to the end. Like when people start speaking English in a foreign language film: "Hey, I understand that!" 

Finally, a propos of nothing because I didn't ever want to experience Milanoo again, I got the following:

Thank you for shopping with
I am following up regarding case number 00079349 of your inquiry.
It's been 48 hours since our last email and we have not heard back from you yet.
Please kindly reply to us if your problem has not been solved.
The case will be closed after 24 hours if with your kind confirmation for no further feedback or response taking on.
A survey may send to you for your precious suggestions and how we act in the service after the closing of case.

Sorry to bother you!

Many Thanks and Best Regards!

I don't know why they felt the need to send this as I got what I wanted. Why would I respond to them after that? I do like that they may send me a survey for my "precious suggestions," though.

Incidentally, this is what I got:
Black Lycra Spandex Unisex Zentai Suit

Monday, October 31, 2011

October Horror Roundup

As a helpful aid to my month of watching horror movies, I thought I'd break things down into categories to help guide you if you're ever looking for something to watch. Plus, there are a lot of movies here and maybe you missed a write-up or two. Now it'll be easy to tell. Sadly, I didn't discover any new (to me) classics and I wouldn't say anything I watched is essential viewing, but that's OK. There was still plenty of good stuff. It's possible that my write-ups don't mesh with their category here. If that's the case, the movie has not sat well in my mind and I've grown hostile towards it since writing.

Highly Recommended
Lake Placid

The Beyond

Well Worth Your Time
Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural
Corridors of Blood
The Hound of the Baskervilles
Raw Meat

Flawed but Interesting
Deathdream (aka Dead of Night)

The Dunwich Horror

Dead Snow
Murders in the Rue Morgue

The Witch's Mirror

The Bad Seed
Sugar Hill

Better Than You'd Think
Uncle Sam

Wasted Concepts
Bloody Pit of Horror
The Keep
The Horde
100 Feet
The Prophecy

Some to Avoid
The Burrowers
The Gore Gore Girls
Seventh Moon
Island of the Fishmen
Special Effects