Friday, September 27, 2013

Villains Pecking Order

If you watch enough movies, especially those of the action genre, you will eventually begin to notice that there seems to be a natural pecking order for groups of movie villains. For whatever reason, certain classes of villains just seem to work better than others. So being of a curious nature, I decided to keep a close eye on the various movies I watch to decide if I could correctly sort out the various groups of villains and establish once and for a definitive pecking order.

1. Nazis

As seen in Raiders, Last Crusade, Schindler's List, Inglorious Basterds, Captain America (for all practical purposes). There is one indisputable fact. The world can’t agree on anything but this – we all hate Nazis. Even Nazis hate their fellow Nazis deep down. 

The undisputable king of movie villains

2. Eastern Europeans

As seen in Die Hard, Die Hard 3, Air Force One, and often played by Sean Bean. These guys fare shockingly well. They are often bland, but overall, thanks to highlight reel performances from the likes of Alan Rickman and Gary Oldman, they ultimately are very effective as villains, and Hollywood doesn't mind using them.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The ABCs of Dinkology Review

In some ways, The ABCs of Dinkology is a hard book to describe. It seems simple enough to say that it is a combination novel/graphic novel and leave it at that, but to slap an easy label on something that defies labels doesn't seem fair.

What we have is a coming of age story in the vein of a John Hughes film in the 1980s - think "Sixteen Candles". In The ABCs of Dinkology, the main character, Max, opens the story awaiting the return of his girlfriend from college, and if you see where this is going, in Max's case, things turn out even worse than what you might anticipate for him. Naturally, this leads to the typical breakup angst, only it is magnified due to both the nature of the breakup and by other events that take place during the book. I would rather let the reader navigate these twists and turns without giving away more.

As far as the graphic novel sections, these fit seamlessly into the narrative. I was afraid it would come off as distracting or gimmicky, and it didn't at all. They were a natural part of the story, and served only to enhance rather than detract.

My only complaint was that the ending was rather abrupt - my understanding is that this is the first part of the story, but there is nothing in the book that indicates as such. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to the second chapter of this story, when it arrives!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Penny Park Review

I discovered "Penny Park" thanks to a review in our local paper. Truth be told, I kind of figured the writer had overstated his praise of the album. But I was intrigued by the concept, so I decided to check it out.

When I did, I was blown away. The writer was correct. This is an outstanding album.

The concept of this record is that the songs follow the theme of one summer in the old Peony Park amusement park in Omaha (the summer of 1989 in this case), and our narrator's obsession with a girl named Penny Park. It's a catchy blend of nostalgia, love, and fun, with enough variety between the 21 songs that it always feels fresh, all the way through the end of the record.

I'm a huge fan of the Beach Boys and Bruce Springsteen, and in a strange way, this feels like a mix between the two with a dose of Third Eye Blind thrown in. I'm not much of a music critic, but that's the best comparison I can make with my limited musical knowledge. I highly recommend this album, and I do not think its appeal is limited to only those from Omaha. I barely remember the park that the theme is drawn from, but I will be playing this album for years.