Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Grab Bag Na-na-na-na

After Tuesday's first post went up, my wife informed me that our school system does not, in fact, indifferently leave families high and dry if a school-aged child is deemed not quite ready for kindergarten. Apparently there are other official remedial programs designed to get a five-year-old up to speed (and, presumably, keep those knee-biters off the streets). I wanted therefore to walk back a bit of my low-level indignation from earlier. I am less outraged about hypothetical situations that might befall other people!


Speaking of the little guy, we are continuing with his weekend Movie Nights but he has been opting lately to re-watch movies he already owns rather than trying new ones. Honestly that's fine with me (I can certainly understand the comfort-level impulse), and it makes things logistically easier as well, as I'm not juggling the Netflix queue or blowing money on new Blu-rays or anything. Last weekend he finally re-watched Cars 2, having not seen it all the way through since I took him to the theater for the first time in his life, despite the fact that I bought it for him on DVD shortly thereafter. I've been a defender of Cars 2 in the past, acknowledging that it's not Pixar's finest film; every list has to have something in the bottommost position, but that doesn't mean it still can't be a list of good things end-to-end. I feel like people slagged Cars 2 unfairly because it really seemed like a calculated cash-in, and of course prominently featured Larry the Cable Guy, an easy target for any self-proclaimed aesthete. But, uh, yeah, on second viewing Cars 2 really did not hold up. I still don't think it's as bad as some people wail that it is, but there are countless better ways to spend two hours.

But despite diving back into his long-standing Pixar/Disney collection, the little guy is still thinking and talking about Toy Story a lot. Which makes me meditate on it, as well. Another thing that occurred to me is that Woody, given the way he lords over the other toys and always tries to keep them all focused on a very focused philosphy of their existence as Andy's playthings and what he interprets that to mean, is very much like a charismatic cult leader. Which is a turn of phrase my wife and I use to describe the little guy all the time, so his affinity for the Sheriff just kind of makes perfect sense.

(Just the other night at bedtime my wife picked up a Disney storybook and asked the little guy "Do you want me to read you a Toy Story story?" and he answered "No, I don't like Toy Story stories I only like Toy Story movies because 'Toy Story story' is too hard to say!" That made me laugh.)


For a while there in the early-mid 00's, my geeky buddies and I were going to comic book conventions regularly, by which I mean about once a year. The rapid growth of my family in the past half-decade has curtailed that somewhat, but I'm still on the electronic mailing lists for several of these events. It's fairly amusing to me, because it seems that the major thrust of these direct-message marketing strategies is to e-mail former attendees every time an upcoming convention books a single celebrity personality for an appearance. On the one hand, I could care less about the personalities at the conventions. I have never stood in line for (much less paid for) an autograph or photo op, and while I acknowledge that walking through an exhibit hall and seeing an actress from a show I used to kinda like prompts a positive response in me (along the lines of "oh, neat"), those moments are far down the list of Reasons Why I Would Go To A Comic Convention, below such entries as browsing dealers' collections for old comics, buying cheap toys on the last day when the dealers are trying to unload stock, getting insider news about upcoming projects, people-watching the cosplayers, picking up free swag, and of course hanging out and bonding with my buddies.

But the other, more ridiculous aspect of the strategy is that it attempts to cast a wide net one loop at a time. Comic conventions have evolved to address a broad array of interests, some only tangentially related to comic books in the sense that geeks who are into the X-Men tend to also be into genre tv shows and video games and whatnot. But just because there's a high likelihood that a convention attendee might also dig horror movies doesn't mean that an appearance by the guy who played Jason in the Friday the 13th movies is going to be a big draw for many specific people. It makes sense to gather lots of different appeals to different niche audiences under one roof, and it would even make sense to me to hit the marketing mailing list with a full list of celebrities scheduled to attend, from the comics writers and artists to the washed up actors still milking the fact that they were on a hit show once, to the active pro-wrestlers and the chicks whose sole claim to fame is being the live model for the covert art for a fantasy MMORPG. Somewhat less sensible (to me) is e-mailing the entire list with the announcement that the actor who played Tommy the Green Ranger is going to be at the con. Which, I swear, is an actual e-mail I received this week, and not some implausible reductio ad absurdum I dreamed up to make this point.

He's fresh off breaking the Guinness World Record for number of boards broken with a karate chop while skydiving (seven! and I'm still not making this up!) so, at least I learned something. And so have you, you're welcome.


I know I still haven't posted anything about the end of Community's fourth season (I'm working on it, I've got a lot to say about it (SHOCKER) and it might very well turn into a week's worth of posts or something, and it's not like I don't have plenty of time since season five will be a mid-season replacement at best) BUT did you know that my wife and I were also regular viewers of The Office and we hung in there until the bitter end and tuned in for the series finale this week? All true. There seems to be some divided opinions out there on teh interwebs as to whether or not Steve Carrell's cameo as Michael Scott was appropriately scaled or a squandered opportunity. So, for the record: appropriate! I'm in the camp that believes the show probably should have ended when Michael Scott left for Colorado, but given the fact that they kept going for two more years, the finale was much better served focusing on the other characters, both major and minor, than being overwhelmed by a Michael-driven plot, subplot, or even a runner. It would have been weird to wrap up the series without Carrell, but the amount of screentime and dialogue he got was perfect: one last "that's what she said" and one last bizarre and inappropriate talking head about his relationship to his (former) employees, plus an indication that he and Holly did in fact have their kids-and-a-picket-fence happy ending. Works for me.

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