Our 2006 Road Trip, Part 12: Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam!


Spammy bids you welcome! Enter freely and of your own craving!

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

Day 4: Tuesday, July 25th (continued)

After several hours of gawking and photographing the animals, then a few minutes of fairly priced zoo cafeteria lunch, two more hours of driving took us southeast to the town of Austin, home of Hormel Foods and the world-famous Spam Museum.

Does this really need an introduction?

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MCC Live-Tweeting: “Sharknado 2: the Second One”

Sharknado! Two!

Shark and Tornado. Tornado and Shark. Who’s the master and who’s the servant?

Because too many viewers patronized the first one! Thanks to America’s unreasonable groundswell of bemused support of the original Sharknado, Syfy and The Asylum felt emboldened enough to scrape together a few more quarters, call in some former celebrities for cameos, clear the browser cache in their visual-effects software, and make Sharknado 2: the Second One on purpose.

I can’t imagine why anyone would write a straightforward review of this, not even if you were a paid TV critic, unless you’re keen to address the arguments for or against the concept of meta-grade-Z flicks. I see both sides of the debate over which is morally superior, mocking unintentionally bad films versus mocking intentionally bad films, but I opted out of the debate and launched into an evening of fun, carefree live-tweeting without contemplating my justifications or pondering the ramifications of encouraging Syfy’s agenda.

Collected below for posterity or whatever are the results of that experience. MAJOR SPOILERS ahead…

Your August 2014 Anniversary-Party-a-Day Guide!

Princess Diaries 2!

The Princess Diaries 2 turns 10 this August! But you already knew that, right? The stars, left to right: Callum Blue, a.k.a. Zod from Smallville; Academy Award Winner Anne Hathaway; and Starfleet Captain Chris Pine.

Forty-five years since the moon landing! Twenty-five years since Ghostbusters II! Fifty years since this battle! Ten years since that album! Eighty years since this one comic! Thirty-five years since that one thing happened that we wouldn’t mention if this weren’t a slow news day!

Now more than ever, you can count on your favorite sites to devote bandwidth every week to someone’s memories of events that occurred exactly on This Day in History multiples-of-five years ago. If it happened nine, thirteen, or twenty-two years ago, don’t waste our time. But fifteen years ago? Those precious moments need to be documented. Interviews need to be conducted. Reviews and opinions from that year need to be revisited and recontextualized. The important thing is that we need to be writing about stuff everyone loved way back when, instead of wasting a lot of time searching for new stuff in the world of today. Nostalgia rules! Discovery drools!

For once, I’m getting a few steps ahead of their game. Instead of waiting for them to tell me what to celebrate, like some kind of chump who doesn’t own a calendar or know how to Google, I’m planning my own social schedule in advance so I can be first in line to define “the Good Ol’ Days” for everyone else with a big, boiling bowl of Remember When bouillabaisse. And you can join me!

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Our 2006 Road Trip, Part 11: Mandatory Zoo Visit

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

Day 4: Tuesday, July 25th

Our hotel in Bloomington rewarded us with the largest breakfast buffet of the whole trip. The offerings weren’t all that different, with the notable exception of a positively luxurious three waffle-makers. Their buffet was much more spread out and streamlined, rather than crammed into a leftover nook like those of the previous hotels. Although they offered three times as many tables and chairs as we were used to, they were also just as crowded as the pool had been the previous night.

Once we were tanked up on too much sugar — I know I was, at least — we drove due south to Apple Valley, home of the Minnesota Zoo. This part was a concession on behalf of my son, the wildlife lover. We always schedule one vacation stop for his appeasement, though a zoo was a welcome change of pace from the ride-alike amusement parks of previous years. (Fun opinion I wish I didn’t hold: Six Flags parks are as interchangeable as McDonald’s franchises.)

Birdie on Lake!

Lakes and birdies, hand in hand: Minnesota’s nature scene in a nutshell.

Right this way to walk with the animals!

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”: In a World Where Apes Are No Better Than Men


Toby Kebbell takes over for Claude Akins as the Koba of a new generation. So far I’ve seen no hardcore fans protesting the decision to change Koba from gorilla to ape.

Many of us here on the internet openly lament Hollywood’s fixation on sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots as their creative crutches of choice. Implicit in our grumbles is the broad assumption that all of those recycling methods are inherently bad by definition. We’re sometimes quick to forget within the space of 140 characters, for the sake of the snarky punchline, that such vehicles don’t have to be all bad. Their success rate is disappointing, but it’s far from 0%.

Last weekend, six of the top ten films on the box office chart were sequels. One was a sequel and a sort-of relaunch; one a sequel to a spinoff; one a sequel to a remake; and two were just plain sequels. And then there was Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a loose do-over of 1973’s Battle for the Planet of the Apes with the additions of one large MacGuffin and some expensive set pieces, any one of which probably cost five times Battle‘s miserly budget. Also, they smartly ditched the humans’ sci-fi B-movie costumes.

So Dawn is a sequel to a reboot and it’s a remake. Its pedigree is an anti-art hat trick. Somehow it’s also one of the best films of the summer.

Right this way for another trip to the madhouse!

First Pic: Gal Gadot IS Wonder Woman IN “Batman vs. Superman”!

Gal Gadot IS Wonder Woman!

Director Zack Snyder just shared the following image online from this weekend’s big San Diego Comic Con: the public’s very first look at Gal Gadot as the very first big-screen Wonder Woman, as appearing in next summer’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Frankly, Snyder’s trademark monotones aren’t doing her any favors. I can’t tell if her costume really is all leather-armor brown, or if it’s seven different Day-Glo colors of the rainbow but shot through an unappealing Instagram filter. The sword and warrior’s stance are nothing new to comics readers of the last three decades, but older folks whose Wonder Woman memories begin and end with Lynda Carter might be in for a bit of a shock.

Three more important questions remain to be answered in the months ahead:

(1) How’s her personality?

(2) Is her part an overhyped cameo or an ample supporting role?

(3) Will we ever see WW starring in her own film in my lifetime? Or is she doomed to play second-fiddle for the manly heroes, as if she were just a brawnier Lois Lane?


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