Episode #968: That Looks Cool
First Broadcast: 9/18/23
Is Blue Beetle one of the best DC superhero films ever made, or at least the best film of the DCEU era? I would argue that it is, largely due to its not completely resembling any previous film from either Marvel or DC (perhaps the character's origins outside of both of those publishing houses contributes to that), giving it an independent feeling that seems liberated from any shackles that might be imposed by needing to stay within certain guidelines already established by other films of the genre. That's not to say there aren't identifiable influences from other films--I counted touches that appeared to be from Iron Man, Spider-Man, and all three original Star Wars films, for example--but to me this film treated those influences as fun nods to other films, as opposed to sources from which to crib or clone material outright. Perhaps that's why I join the critics and audiences who give this film a high rating, even if others have a diametically opposed opinion. Are negative reactions like that the reason why Blue Beetle's box office is smaller than other movies of its type, or is that due to the lack of promotion due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes? Will the new heads of DC Studios will take any lessons from this film, since it's technically for a universe that no longer exists? Will the writers and actors get what they're fighting for? Let's all hope for some good answers for all the above--"fax, no printer!"
Episode #969: There's a Zeppelin
First Broadcast: 10/2/23
From now until March, 2024, there will be at least one free MTA bus in each borough, and in Manhattan that bus is the M116. That sounds like a useful thing the MTA is doing--or at least it sounds more useful than the 420-pound robot that's now patrolling the Times Square subway station for the NYPD. This is the same NYPD that now owns 2 "Digidogs" and at least one device that... well, let's let Gothamist explain it:
One device, from the company StarChase, will allow police to shoot a projectile that attaches a GPS device onto cars to track their movements remotely. Police said the goal is to avoid high-speed vehicle pursuits, so officers can locate cars without chasing after them.
Am I the only one who thinks this device sounds a lot like one of Spider-Man's "spider tracers," a concept that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko debuted in 1964? I guess if you live long enough, you'll see a lot of science-fiction become science fact sooner or later. Let's hope a reduction in Manhattan rental prices doesn't remain science-fiction for the forseeable future. You'd think kicking all those illegal Airbnb listings out of the city would at least make a dent!
Episode #970: Up and Up and Up
First Broadcast: 10/9/23
Heat season is here! More important than that: Have you seen the 4K restoration of Stop Making Sense yet? Go while you still have the chance! It's been called the greatest concert film of all time, and I think that description is reinforced every time I watch that movie, because it gets better and better each time I see it. If you're lucky, maybe you'll end up in a theater where everyone is dancing along with you, but regardless, a clean print of something this marvelous is worth viewing at least once in a lifetime (sorry, couldn't resist). Perhaps it could even be a warmup for doing the "Thriller" dance along with the zombies in the Halloween Parade this year? Do you remember Vincent Price's monologue in that song? Has anyone determined if there's a correlation between the proliferation of "sexy" Halloween costumes and global warming? What would happen if David Byrne collaborated with David Lynch? All questions that will linger, I'm sure!
Episode #971: So Confusing
First Broadcast: 10/16/23
Am I talking about the plot of Ahsoka? Or the seeming randomness of items that contain "pumpkin spice" flavor? (Pumpkin Spice Spam, anyone?) Or maybe I'm referring to the very specifically odd product named "Goldfish Limited Edition Dunkin'™ Pumpkin Spice Grahams," which reminds me a lot of the very memorable performasnce of "Dana Gould as Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius as Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain"? Whatever it is, it's a lot to chew on!
Episode #972: Something for the Bees
First Broadcast: 10/30/23
Have you been to "Manhattan Beach"? No, not the one in California. No, not the one in Brooklyn, either. I mean the one in Manhattan, which isn't really called "Manhattan Beach", but goes by the more formal name of Ganesvoort Peninsula. It's a sandy, beach-like environment in Manhattan adjacent to Hudson River Park, and it might become an interesting diversion for people who can't or don't want to travel to a real beach, but who really knows. Was it the exceptionally warm weather this October that made me think of the beach? Was that also making me think of provinces in Canada that will probably become some of the best places on Earth to live when everywhere else falls victim to climate change? The same climate change that's breaking off ice shelves in the Antarctic, decimating polar bear habitats in the Arctic, and making the sea levels rise worldwide (because, as those rubber ducks proved, it's all the same ocean)? Is anyone thinking about the bees? Is Christmas Creep having a showdown with the Great Pumpkin? Excuse me while I lie down; it's too hot.
Episode #973: Too Hot for Hot Chocolate
First Broadcast: 11/6/23
Nostalgia overwhelms me this week as I lament some of the many, many dead restaurants in New York City that I can no longer eat at! A recent article about a pop-up stand for the late City Bakery's hot chocolate is what got me started, and from there I talked about how the deaths of Texas Rotisserie on Broadway near Houston Street (similar to this branch on Fulton Street, also closed), Village BBQ (which was on 1st Avenue, but now it's as if no record of it exists), BBQ on University Place, Dallas BBQ on 2nd Avenue, Dallas Jones (formerly of 6th Avenue and later on Houston Street), Baby Jake's, Baby Jupiter, The Levee (closed due to a fire in 1995--I could only find this brief mention of it in a comment section), Princess Pauline's (on East 1st Street between 1st Avenue & Avenue A, which seems like it's been erased from the Internet), Old Devil Moon, Rodeo Bar, Georgia's Eastside BBQ, and Mighty Quinn's (not to mention the Continental Divide a long time before the rest, and I can't find the menus for that either) have led to a now extreme dearth of restaurants specializing in Southern/Tex-Mex/Rotisserie food in the neighborhood, forcing me to either go above 23rd Street or below TriBeCa to eat some decent chicken and ribs lately! First world problems, to be sure, but having easy access to this food for something like 40 years and having it all yanked away--it's not fair, I tell ya! Did we also mention intelligent crows, intelligent octopuses, and the octopus who threw a shrimp at someone (which may have turned out to be greatly exaggerated)? We did, but none of that will make me forget those ribs...
Episode #974: Real People
First Broadcast: 11/27/23
This week, we talk about Martin Scorsese's latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon, based on the book of the same name, which is about the true story of how the Native American Osage people discovered oil on their land, became some of the richest people on Earth as a result, and were subsequently murdered in mass numbers by white people who wanted to take their land & oil and wipe their tribe off the map. This all happened in Oklahoma, the same state where the Tulsa race massacre also occured--not to be confused with the musical that was recently banned (and unbanned) by a Texas high school because a transgender student wanted to play one of the lead parts (maybe someone should remind them of all the men who played female parts in Shakespeare's plays back in the day). But, I digress! Despite the film's nearly three-and-a-half hour running time, it at no point feels like it drags or has any unessential parts, and yet it still finds room to breathe in quiet moments that other recent movies appear to be afraid to include, as if they're afraid that any lessening in the action will cause their audiences to lose interest, so they keep up a breakneck pace in the hopes that momentum alone will paper over whatever shortcomings may exist. Fortunately, I found no moments in Scorsese's film tbat caused my attention to wander; it probably helped that I was watching it on a big screen also, which only added to the immersive feeling of this intricately detailed period piece. It also felt like Scorsese was drawing from the entire history of motion pictures to tell this story, from the earliest silents to the latest in drone shots, with one scene in particular showing more than a little similarities to L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat, one of the earliest films made by the Lumière brothers, pioneers in the development of cinema over a century ago. The similarities to Scorsese's own works are also there--Goodfellas comes to mind right away--which makes for an interesting compare and contrast among the catalog of one of the most important film directors who's ever lived. Altogether, it's a gripping film that's also a necessary highlight of one of the darker parts of American history--and right now it's difficult to watch this without also immediately making comparisons to the horrors being wreaked on Gaza as well. Maybe the time will come when this film won't be so timely, but until then--go see this movie!
Episode #975: A Much Different Place
First Broadcast: 12/11/23
This week: The Marvels! I thought it was alright--maybe not the best Marvel movie, but far from the worst--and most other people seem to agree with me. So, what explains its relatively poor box office compared to other Marvel movies? Is it all because of thin-skinned people who give one-star reviews to any movie that doesn't put white men front and center? Superhero movie fatigue? The writers' and actors' strikes effectively preventing any promotion when the movie might have needed it the most? Could be all three. Though, even if none of the above were a factor, if you have more than 30 of anything in a series, one of them is inevitably going to be the worst, so maybe it was only a matter of time! Maybe go see it yourself and make up your own mind? Or don't; I'm not your parent.