Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Finished: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Title: Around the World in Eighty Days
Series: Voyages Extraordinaires
Author: Jules Verne
Genre: Adventure
Pages: 230
Publisher: Pierre-Jules Hetzel
Year pub: 1873
Rating: ★★★★☆

I can honestly say that I never expected to enjoy Around the World in Eighty Days as much as I did. It's really a testament to the writing chops of Jules Verne that a 144 year old adventure novel still holds up today.

What I loved about AWED is just the premise, the idea of someone would make a bet on the spot to travel around the world in less than three months and does it while being wrongly pursued by a police detective for a crime they didn't commit. That Phileas Fogg globe trots while being completely unaware that he's being pursued just serves to make the overall story even better.

Then there's Passepartout, Fogg's poor, put upon man-servant who, first day on the job, gets Shanghaied into this mess. You have to feel sorry for the poor chap because he took the job in full expectation of having a quiet, sedate life and Fogg tosses that right out the window.

Really, the only complaint I have with Around the World in Eighty Days is that it shows it's age a little in its depiction of non-white civilizations. It's nowhere close to being even half racist, let alone full blown racist, but the way Indians, Chinese, Japanese, and Native Americans are depicted shows a hint of some of the prejudiced views white Europeans had back then. Having said that, it won't foul up your reading of the book, but it might cause an eyebrow to rise.

As an aside, this was only the second work of classic literature that I've ever read, the first being The Prisoner of Zenda, as well as the oldest that I've read. I don't know why, but I've never been able to get into classic lit before, so this is a promising sign that my horizons may be broadening and I'm looking forward to reading more of Jules Verne's works as well as other classics in the near future.

Monday, September 25, 2017

There's a Crisis on Earth-X: DC-TV's next crossover event

I first saw this picture over on Tumblr late last night and it piqued my interest.

via the official Arrow Twitter.
My first take on the title was that this year's big crossover between the four DC-TV shows (Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl) was going to be an adaption of some sort of the famed Crisis on Infinite Earths mega-event DC Comics did back in the mid-80s. I did some googling and according to the DC Database, Earth-X was one of those infinite Earths of DC's old multiverse. This was an Earth where the Nazis won World War II and was subject of one of the annual Justice League/Justice Society crossovers and a group of heroes from Earth-2 (all of whom DC acquired from Quality Comics), called the Freedom Fighters, moved to Earth-X to free it from the Nazis.

So the obvious question is if this is what DC-TV is going for with this crossover? The answer is yes. DC Comics has an article about the crossover on their website which linked to another article about the upcoming Freedom Fighters: The Ray animated webseries from CW Seed. That series is set on Earth-X and features Nazi doppelgangers of Green Arrow, Supergirl, and The Flash dubbed The Reichmen, so that's what we'll see in the crossover. It's certainly going to be chilling to see those doppelgangers in the flesh and disturbing if they start throwing Nazi salutes.

What I'm curious to see is how events of the crossover effects the non-white and Jewish heroes. I can only hope that the writers don't pull a dumb and have evil versions of them. Provided, you know, that their doppelgangers even exist on Earth-X (because *Nazis*). If they do, they'll probably be members of the resistance.

Moving on from that, the other big thing are Barry and Iris at the bottom of the center-piece. The image suggests that the two are finally going to tie the knot this season, after having been matrimony blocked by the Speed Force last season. How this relates to Nazi doppelgangers, I have no clue. I guess we'll just have to wait for either the trailer or when the crossover happens starting November 27th.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

And now for some interesting television trivia

Because I'm both bored and have acquired quite a bit of otherwise useless trivia.

Leave It to Beaver was both the first TV series to show a toilet and the first to have a series finale. The latter is interesting because apparently most shows at the time just ended when they were cancelled without a proper sendoff like long-running successful shows do now. Meanwhile, Star Trek has been around for fifty-one years and has never shown the former.

Hugh Beaumont, who played Ward Cleaver, retired from acting at the end of the show's run and became a tree farmer until his death in 1977. I guess after you've played the dad of a kid named 'Beaver', it's time to call it a career. When they did a reunion movie and subsequent spinoff back in the 80s, they explained Beaumont's absence as Ward having died a couple years prior.

Speaking of death, when Don Blocker from Bonanza died in 1972 from a pulmonary embolism, his character simply disappeared from the show without any onscreen explanation. It wasn't until the first Bonanza television movie that his character Hoss Cartwright was revealed to have drowned by trying to rescue a woman from, ironically, drowning. Similarly when the last TV movie was made after the death of Michael Landon, it was explained that his Little Joe character had been killed at the Battle of San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War. Talk about a critical failure of character shields.

He wasn't working harder,
he was working smarter.
Credit: Sid Avery | IMDb.

Actor Fred MacMurray of The Absent-Minded Professor and The Apartment fame filmed all of his scenes for his show My Three Sons in two separate one month blocks each season in order to be free to continue making movies and playing golf. These were just his scenes, mind you, so the rest of the cast had to film around him.

One of the reasons The Rockford Files was cancelled despite its popularity is because years of doing his own stunts for both it and his previous show, Maverick, had wrecked James Garner's back and knees. Another reason is that the show frequently used well known guest stars that were more expensive than using ones that were more c-list or otherwise cheap.

Speaking of costs, that was the reason The Dukes of Hazzard was cancelled. The General Lee had to be replaced every episode because surprise, surprise, the cars couldn't survive the landing from those epic jump stunts. Eventually it just became too expensive for the network to keep buying 1969 Dodge Chargers. The show did briefly continue as a cartoon, however.

Ja'net Dubois, who played Willona Woods on CBS's 70s hit Good Times, also co-wrote and sang the theme for another of CBS's hit, The Jeffersons.

That's it for now. I plan on posting more and even doing ones focused on singular bits, like Ben Cartwright’s (from Bonanza) marital curse, the Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, and more. If you enjoyed these, then let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Bought some CDs the other day

Kids, if you don't know what a CD is, ask your older siblings and get the hell off my lawn. Joking aside, I don't buy music all that often because I just don't listen to it with any kind of regularity. Still, when someone is selling CDs 4/$1 and the selection is good, I'm buying.

 Oh man, this album. I remember hooplah that accompanied Jagged Little Pill because of its lead single "You Ought to Know". The song's frank look at a failed relationship from the point of view of the woman refreshing, while Alanis Morissette's use of "fuck" and blowjob reference was quite shocking at the time. Nowadays, blatant references to sex acts in music is blaise, but back then, "going down on you in the theater" and "do you think of me when you fuck her?" had people shook.

Of course, those references were bleeped out on radio version.

Jagged Little Pill also features "Ironic", a song that people like to point out contains very little in the way of irony. Still, lines like "he waited his whole damn life to take that flight and as the plane crash down, he thought 'isn't this nice'" and "ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife" are nice contrasts between serious and nonsensical verses.

Also, I still can't wrap my head around the fact that Alanis Morissette did two dance-pop albums before Jagged Little Pill. She's the real life Robin Sparkles/Robin Daggers (and if that was an intentional reference by the How I Met Your Mother Writers, then holy shit).

 I haven't listened to Dirt yet, but I have listened to "Rooster" many times over the years, so the rest of the album ought to be good. Layne Staley had one of the greatest voices in music - not just rock music, but music period - and his untimely death more than fifteen years ago was easily as big a blow as Kurt Cobain's.
 I'm going to be honest here, I bought this entirely because it has "Hip to be Square" on it and regardless of that scene from American Psycho, it's one of my personal favorites.

Turns out the rest of the album isn't bad either. Huey Lewis and the News are an amazing band that managed to capture recreate the sound and feel of classic rock and roll without it coming off as a gimmick. I like 80s music, but in a sea of new wave and synth pop whatever, Huey Lewis was a refreshing breeze.
None more black.

Metallica's self-titled fifth album could practically double as a greatest hits. "Nothing Else Matters", "Enter Sandman", "The Unforgiven", and "Wherever I May Roam" all on the same album? Metallica evidently wanted to give buyers the most (head)bang for their buck.

My only regret here is that I didn't buy more CDs. There was a small plastic tub of them and I saw some choice albums, but I didn't go for them. Unfortunate.

All pictures via Wikipedia.