Monday, April 14, 2014

The Punisher

We are sitting in the new golden age of comic book movies, with Marvel Comics really leading the way.  At least leading in terms of blockbuster franchises.  They haven't all been hits, of course.  One notable failure is the Punisher.  Based on a fairly dark, violent, and somewhat bottom shelf comic, it is an odd choice for such a push.  There have been three attempts to make the Punisher into a movie.  The best, by far, was the first.  1989's The Punisher.

You don't remember this gem from the 80s?  Well shame on you.  Shame!  This movie is awesome.  Dolph Lundgren and Louis Gossett Jr. team up to punish the guilty.  It is different than most comic book movies these days.  Back in the 80s, before comic fans were put in charge of making comic book adaptations, Hollywood second rates often wasted tons of dough making movies they didn't understand.  With no reverence to the source material they made what they thought little kiddies would like.  Richard Lester made that crap Superman 3 with slapstick stupidity paired with a terrifying ending.

nightmare fuel

Or else they disregarded the source material entirely and made what they thought it should be.  Supergirl was a clusterfuck of a movie because the director thought that comic book movies are fantasy with no regard for plot or characters, and also should not resemble each other stylistically even though they resided in the same universe.  Sometimes Hollywood second tiers tried to find a few kernels of a story in the comic books and fill in the rest with their imagination or stock Hollywood tropes.

And this Punisher did that.  Except it worked.  Here's why.  The people who produced this movie saw the comic book for what it was:  a violent action thriller.  And so they made it into a dark action movie.  Not a superhero movie, because honestly the Punisher isn't a superhero at all.  He is a lunatic gun toting vigilante who goes around trying to murder "the guilty".  That's basically it.  He is an ex-cop (Frank Castle) whose family is murdered by the mafia and he is presumed dead, so he goes and kills them.

I read a few of the comic books and of course the problem with comic books is they are for kids.  So they can't show the Punisher violently murdering mafioso.  But an R rated action movie can!  And boy this movie delivers.  Dolph Lundgren murders everyone.  I'm not into VHS nostalgia that much.  But I'm proud to say I own this one on VHS, a treasure of raiding an old video store's inventory closeout.  They didn't card anyone that magical day!

The best way I can describe this is "80s action flick".  It has a real RoboCop vibe, complete with fake TV news footage.  It is interesting because it starts in medias res, with Frank Castle already transformed into the Punisher.  And they waste no time, because it in the first five minutes it is stuffed full of violent murders and explosions.

The one thing that always bothered me about this movie was that Dolph Lundgren, a natural blonde, was cast as dark haired Frank Castle.  So they die his hair, no big deal.  But they decided he needed stubble to look gristly.  So they paint on some dark stubble.  Looks really weird.

Other than that, check out this fantastic Marvel Comics movie from the 80s.  If you like RoboCop, you'll love the Punisher.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Greatcoat revisited

It was four years ago when I first introduced you to the great overcoat awakening and the greatcoat renaissance.  If I blog it here you can rest assured that it will enter mainstream culture in a few years.  These days "military style overcoats" are all the rage.  And a lot has changed since then. Well I'm here to share my findings.

I have cycled through many an overcoat over the years. All relatively cheap. And these days I'm settled on bridge coats (alternately spelled bridgecoats with no space), the coat of choice for naval officers stationed on the bridge in inclement weather.  Why bridgecoats?  Glad I asked.

The bridgecoat way

First and foremost bridge coats are black. Black is the traditional color of overcoats and you won't find many men wearing any other color. So while the overcoats and greatcoats of different branches of different militaries around the world have an interesting variety of colors; black is best.  Black has always been my favorite color and is also the overwhelming favorite color of business jerks wearing long wool overcoats.  These days it is nice to be a little less conspicuous.

Second they are double breasted in a way that is different from your typical double breasted overcoat. With a typical double breasted overcoat the lapels stick out when you pop the collar up.

This is because of the way the collar and lapels are cut.  With a bridgecoat and the pea coat cut, this isn't an issue.  You see, every part was designed for a specific function.  The collar was designed to fold up to protect the back of the neck and head from the elements.  The lapels too are functional.  They are designed to fold over and button up to protect the chest from the elements.  There is even a chin strap included that buttons in to protect the front of the neck.

Underneath the collar is yet another set of buttons.  These button up the now folder over lapels, just in case you forgot your scarf.  On the underside of the collar is a set of tiny black buttons for buttoning up your chin strap.

The chin strap conveniently buttons into the inside of your coat for storage during regular times, to be buttoned under your chin when you really need it.

Typical civilian overcoats turn functional design into useless vestiges.  A small collar that doesn't fold up.  Small lapels that are mere decoration.  But military clothes tend to follow the "form follows function" philosophy so most everything has a purpose.  I suppose the row of buttons on the left side is superfluous as they are typically anchored in a way that they can't button, even if the coat has a set of button holes on the other side (which they usually do).  They are there merely for symmetry.  But check it out they have this small side vent for carrying a sidearm.  So you can pull out your saber or something.  And of course it buttons closed.  Did I mention these coats have a lot of buttons?

There's also something timeless about these coats.  The cut and look of them fits with today's military coat fetish but also reminds me of coats from the Victorian and Edwardian era.  I had this olde timey picture of dudes hanging around drinking whiskey from the 1800s wearing similarly cut coats but now I lost it.  But you get the point.  No matter the trend this look will last.

Okay so I've cycled through 3 and I'm here to tell you about them. Let me preface this by saying I bought them all on eBay and the most I paid for any individual coat was 40 dollars including shipping.  I am an obsessive eBayer and I find deals, okay?  They usually go for a lot more.  My first bridgecoat was too long and narrow. The original owner must have been tall and thin.  I am guessing it was a more modern vintage because the lapels were fairly narrow. So too small of collar and lapels, poor fit because many of these old coats don't have regular measurements.  Eventually I bought a second and unloaded the first on eBay. So, on to the second. 

My second bridgecoat was superior to the first in every way. Bigger lapels. Wider collar. Shorter length.  Wider in torso and shoulders.  A better fit overall (I am short ok!). The wool is very thick and very fine and it is a very warm coat. Overall it is superb and I have no complaints about it other than the coat is so old that the threads that held the buttons on disintigrated, especially the top and most important button, so I had to re-sew it.  Everything else was in great shape.  I am not a natural at sewing but I did an ok job at it.  Now the threads that protect the button holes are wearing away because of the brass buttons, but that is another story.  This is still my favorite coat.  Better than my first bridge coat.  Better than my regular double breasted overcoat.  About as heavy and awesome as my Soviet Greatcoat.  All black and looks great.

So why did I buy a third?  Well, a few reasons. Mostly because it was a bit snug in the shoulders and with all that GTL I was worried it wouldn't fit.   Good news, it still fits okay, but I still I went shopping for something maybe a little wider...

File photo of Mr. Booze hard at work this summer

My third bridgecoat was a super deal on eBay (less than ten bucks including shipping!). The seller had only one crappy picture. The coat itself was in bad shape. The owner cut all the original buttons off; probably thinking that they were the most valuable part and sold those separate. He replaced the buttons with standard plastic ones but did a shitty job. For some reason he sliced open the lining to sew the buttons between the inner and outer layers instead of using a back button. Stupid and I have never seen it on any overcoat I've owned - and this is my 6th.  Yes I have problems.  So I've been slowly repairing his handiwork.  Unlike my other coats this one has a clear date of manufacture:  1977.

Overall my second bridgecoat, which I will never sell, is the best. It is the thickest wool, the nicest shape. Overall a winner. The wool on my third bridgecoat isn't as thick. I'm not sure if it was made that way or what but there isn't an inner wool shell in the sleeves.  The inner lining was sliced at the cuffs.  Did the original owner slice it to remove the inner wool shell too?  Still my third bridgecoat has virtues. The plastic buttons are more discrete. It is lighter, which is sometimes useful.  And it is slightly wider in the shoulders.  And though not as heavy and warm it is still about as heavy and warm as a typically modern department store overcoat.  They truly do not make them like they used to.

The brass buttons of a bridge coat depict an eagle perched atop an anchor.  Kinda cool but the raised relief frayed the button holes.  Also my second bridgecoat is technically a Coast Guard coat, though the only difference is the inside tag and the position of the eagle, who is perched atop the very top of the anchor.

Most Navy bridgecoats I've seen have the eagle sitting on the sideways anchor so this might be a distinctive Coast Guard thingy.  This is literally the only difference between the three coats in terms of actual design.  The other differences are just variations in size and manufacturing style.  Though these buttons are cool and interesting they are also a bit bling and cause the button holes to fray.

So there you have it.  Come hang out with Mr. Booze in the winter cold and have a nip of brandy or whiskey and keep warm wearing a old bridgecoat you bought on eBay.  Because you deserve it, baby.

Midnight tobacco induced hallucinations

I love old cigarette commercials.  They are wacky.  They seem to take me back to an earlier era better than any other piece of media.  The way people lived.  Everything from how popular music was produced to what sort of clothes people wore is all represented in these little nuggets.  And after watching enough of them the very idea of smoking becomes nauseating.  After a while all people do is bitch about their cigarettes.  The flavor doesn't last.  Menthol too strong.  Not mild enough.  Whine whine whine.  Seems like a big drag to me.  Hah, I kill me.

But maybe I watched too many?  Like this poor bastard here who probably found something wacky in his tobaccy:

Look at this related series of Kool commercials and scroll down to the comments.  Some guy is so pissed off for some reason that he challenges a person to a fight.  In his zeal he gives out his phone number.

Click to embiggen and WTF

Yeah I guess that is what happens when you stay up too late smoking cigarettes.  You go crazy.  If I was drunk and all alone here I would probably call this number just to see what happens.  I already put the number into google, and I won't spoil that mystery fun time for you.  But man...what was in that cigarette?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Whiskey for your health!

I've uncovered more evidence that whiskey is good for your health.  Check out this 100 year old lady who drinks whiskey and smokes cigarettes every day.

I put my health down to whisky and cigarettes. I only drink when I’m out but my doctor said I wouldn’t be alive without them. I’m still alive and I can lift my elbows - it’s great. I’ve had a great life and God has treated me very well. I’ve been very lucky.

Yeah and here is America's oldest veteran drinking whiskey and smoking a cigar every day.

 “I may drink a little in the evening too with some soda water, but that’s it,” Overton told Fox News. “Whiskey’s a good medicine. It keeps your muscles tender.”

There you have it, folks.  The evidence speaks for itself.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Still ahead of the curve: Starship Troopers

First they rip off my movie ideas.  Next they rip off my blog posts.  Remember when I wrote about Starship Troopers and how it was a misunderstood and underrated movie?  That was back in March of 2011.  Well now the Atlantic is working a swagger jacker as well.

Starship Troopers is satire, a ruthlessly funny and keenly self-aware sendup of right-wing militarism. The fact that it was and continues to be taken at face value speaks to the very vapidity the movie skewers.

But I said it better:

Some people think the movie is pro-war.  Some people think the movie is satirical and is anti-war. Why do you think they dressed Doogie Howser like Dr. Mengle?

I think Calum Marsh, aside from making an article based on my uncredited work, misses what is the real charm of the movie and why critics don't give it is a break.  Critics bash the movie because it was so radically different from the book.  But just forget about the book and judge the movie based on its own merits as a stand alone film.  And also keep in mind the way that we see and view wars today and how that was changed after the film came out.  The bugs launch a terrorist attack against civilians and there is a jingoist rise to wage war against them.  We watch the war passively through video clips and embedded journalists while the enemy's mastermind is hunted in the caves in the mountains.  And even if we catch the mastermind the war will go on, doesn't it?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ripped Off

I told you to mark it here.  That's right, I came up with the idea for a movie about Somali Pirates way back in 2011.

But it would be an inside look at the lives of Somali Pirates.  The gritty stories of desperately poor young men searching for riches the only way they can might have some resonance with the entertainment audience.

And now they made it.  Starring Tom Hanks or some shit.  Come on Hollywood, pay me.

Monday, November 4, 2013

From the bargain bin: Nature Quest CDs

Do you remember the 90s?  Like really remember the 90s?  If you do, then you remember that New Age music was big.  Oh, maybe it was bigger in the 80s I don't know.  But in the early 90s it was still going strong.

During the twilight of the New Age there were a lot of "relaxing" CDs pressed.  But not all of it New Age music.  In fact there were quite a few albums of straight up classical music with the "sound of nature" mixed in.

This is a safe place, right?  Ok, I'm going to tell you I really dig these albums.  That's right, these are Amazon's gems.  You can get these discs for a buck.  They have solid classical music and some decent nature mixed in.

Yeah I know, right?

Check out Wolf Song.  You won't find any info online, but it is all classical music with howling wolves interspersed.  I don't recognize a lot of the songs, but I recognize a few like Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughn Williams.  Not New Age at all.

Some of the others feature the ocean with Pachelbel, Handel, and Bach.  Or the ocean with lots of Debussey.

At a bargain bin prices I am stocking up before these beauties disappear forever and become horribly overpriced collector's items.  Maybe you should too?