GRAB A STACK OF ROCK…with Mike and the Mad Metal Man Episode 10: MarriedAndHeels AKA California Girl!
A very special episode today for you Lego lovers, music fans, and connoisseurs of high fashion! I was planning on taking this Friday off, but then suddenly had the opportunity to tape an episode of Grab A Stack of Rock with good friend MarriedAndHeels on the west coast — also known as California Girl and Edie Van Heelin. I’ve been working on getting her on the show, and this week everything fell into place. Unfortunately, Harrison could not make it but he was certainly with us in spirit. CG rolled out some hot new Lego sets, just released January 1! Star Wars and Marvel fans, pay attention!
Meanwhile the Australian Mad Metal Man flipped it around, and submitted questions for us! One for me, one for her, and I hope you like our answers.
Of course music was a topic that we continually circled around, and this is where we may earn some hate. Hendrix fans, skip past this part. But one thing we share in common is that we love what we love, and we have our reasons. What it turns out to be, is that we both tend to love the older tunes the most. Have I officially become an old fart? Possibly. Watch and let me know. It’s an interesting discussion that we could easily have expanded on.
A big thanks to California Girl for joining me this week. We’ll have to have her back with Harrison.
Enjoy the episode! Next week: Star Trek with Mike, Rob, Tim, Harrison and Kevin “Buried On Mars” Simister!
As I was leaving for work on Friday morning, I thought to myself, “You know, I wonder if Harrison or anybody would feel like going live tonight. Just shoot the shit for an hour. It might be a fun way to be social on a Friday night and it only has to be an hour.”
I messaged Harrison in Australia just as he was tucking in for the night, and he graciously agreed to get up early and join me for an impromptu live stream. Setting his alarm clock, Harrison prepared for our first live show since July!
Good morning and Merry Christmas! It sure looks like Santa Claus was here.
As usual I’m the first one up. Jen is happily snoring away, while I play with my new Kenner action figures – Johnny Storm the Human Torch, and the Silver Surfer complete with board. Probably my favourites thus far.
There’s still lots of Christmas to come, but even if there wasn’t I’d be pretty happy right now.
For Christmas Eve, I had a traditional Christmas activity of playing some classic Atari games while passing the time. Then we went over to mom & dad’s for a visit while Aunt visited Grandma in the hospital. It all worked out OK. I got to watch some TV with my dad which is all I really wanted. We were going to watch the Mr. Bean Christmas episode, but the one with him in the hotel started playing, and so we had to stick with that one.
I normally don’t post on Christmas Day but this isn’t really a normal year, is it? Besides, even though we’re kind of on Christmas vacation, we’re not on vacation from connecting with friends. So I say to you my friends: Merry Christmas. I hope you’re safe, sound, and happy this year.
The last time I went to see a movie, it was a V.I.P. experience and I had never heard the word “coronavirus” in my life. This time was starkly different but enjoyable in its own way.
I’ve been wanting to see a movie in this pandemic ever since Tenet hit theaters in 2020, but that was before vaccines and many people were not ready to be back in cinemas yet. 2021 is different, and I’ve been enjoying stores and dinners out once again. Time to go see a movie! Eternals it is! Now I’m completely caught up in the MCU, just in time for Spiderman: No Way Home!
Eternals hasn’t been doing well, and for a Sunday matinee all that was available was the standard 2D showing. (I could identify scenes that looked like important bits were cropped out from the Imax aspect ratio.) My original intent was to see the movie with our friend Vu, but he’s a busy pharmacist and at the last minute, could not get away. I was already at the theater, so I went ahead and bought my ticket. Morning show: less than eight bucks! Occupany: I was one of five people total!
I got comfortable in my seat; with the nearest person many rows away, I felt more comfortable than I’ve ever felt in a movie theater. Not a sound from the others (not even a laugh at the funny scenes) and absolutely no distractions. I don’t think I’ve ever had that experience in the cinemas before. As per cinema rules, I was also masked for two and a half hours with no difficulty whatsoever. In fact my usually cold nose was very happy to be masked.
I usually look forward to the trailers, but all I saw was shit. Morbius looks awful and the fan-service trailer feels like a promotional clip for more than one movie. I grew impatient. Bring on the Eternals.
ETERNALS (2021 Marvel) Directed By Chloé Zhao
I really wanted to like the Eternals. Just days ago I acquired the last Eternals action figure of the ten: Ajak, Salma Hayek’s character, healer and leader of the team. She was a Walmart exclusive. More like Walmart “elusive”! The designs of the costumes, with unique colours for each character, were intriguing. With all ten characters in hand, I was familiar with all their names and powers.
There’s Thena, Angelina Jolie’s goddess of war who can manifest blades and shields. Gilgamesh (Don Lee), the powerhouse with a mighty punch. Sprite (Lia McHugh), the master of illusions and storytelling, trapped in a child’s body. Druig (Barry Keoghan), the brooding controller of minds. Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), a star of the silver screen who can fire bursts of energy from his hands. The master of technology, Phastos (Bryan Tyree Henry), can create devices of great power and ingenuity with his mind. Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) is the speedster and seemingly much faster than Quicksilver himself. She’s also deaf and signs with her teammates. Ikaris (Richard Madden), upon whom the legend of Icarus is based, is perhaps the most powerful, with strength, flight, and cosmic energy eyebeams. Finally there is Sersi (Gemma Chan), the actual central hero of the film, who can convert any non-sentient matter into anything else. Air to water, earth to wood, her choice. They have been here for 7000 years, shaping our history and becoming our heroes of ancient legend.
That’s a lot of characters, and doesn’t include the underused Dane Whitman (Kit Harrington), Sersi’s boyfriend and spinoff setup device. Kingo’s valet Karun (Harish Patel) has more screentime than the future Black Knight. Dane’s lineage is briefly hinted at, and the Ebony Blade mentioned, before being revealed in a post-credit scene that we’ll discuss later. The point is, Whitman is not important to the story. He begins as the “regular person” perspective character that we can relate to, as the strangeness unfolds. But then he disappears and only at the end do we cynically realize his true purpose: MCU world building.
It wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without some deus ex machina to boot — or maybe characters just like to wait until the last possible minute before revealing their presence? That said, Ikaris does know how to make an entrance.
Many of the characters are quite delightful. One feels for the relationship between Thena and Gilgamesh; one the sick and one the caretaker. Poor Sprite feels cursed as a 7000 year old child who can never age, never to know love or even what it feels like to be treated as an equal. Phastos, the master of technology, is haunted by his past. He thought aiding humans to develop new sources of energy would help their society advance. As he stood in the ashes of Hiroshima, he realized how wrong he was. He has retreated to an anonymous family life with a husband and a son. Thena, wonderfully portrayed by Jolie, has the equivalent of Space Alzheimers, lashing out in violence in fitful rages of memory loss.
Other characters go undeveloped. I loved watching the speedy heroics of Makkari (Mercury), the girl with attitude, but never get a feel for her character otherwise. Kingo is the entertainer, loving the spotlight and admiration of humans. He displays wisdom, insight and his own unique perspective on events, but we never really get a feeling for what makes him tick.
Then there is Druig, the intriguing Eternal who can control minds. With a thought, he could end all war on Earth, but he is forbidden from interfering. Forbidden by who?
The complex story of love, deception, legend, history and family takes two and a half hours to unfold. It is told in the form of flashbacks and exposition, lots of exposition. The initial cover story is that the Eternals were sent to Earth to protect intelligent life from predators called Deviants. That turned out to be a lie, but they are forbidden from interfering in human affairs unless Deviants are involved. This comes right down from those that created both Eternals and Deviants: the Celestials. The Deviants were their mistake, and the Eternals are the correction.
Again, a lot to sort out in under one movie. So in sum: 11 new characters (including Whitman), and three new factions. Sort of new.
We’ve seen Celestials before in the Marvel universe: giant beings of immense power. Peter Quill’s dad Ego the Living Planet said he was a Celestial. The space colony of Knowhere was built in the severed head of a giant Celestial. The ultimate villain of Eternals is Arishem, a planet-sized Celestial who helps creation continue in the universe. Celestials create new suns and life in the universe. meanwhile, new Celestials are born in the heart of planets and feed on the life energy of intelligent beings like humans. And it just so happens that a new Celestial named Tiamut is about to be born right in the middle of our Earth. We die so that the Celestials can continue to create new life. It’s a cycle.
And it also turns out that the Eternals are not the protectors of humans that we assumed. They were only to protect them until such time as the new Celestial growing inside Earth had absorbed enough life energy. This happened after the “Blip”, the moment in Avengers: Endgame when half of life in the universe was restored with the Infinity Stones. Now some of the Eternals have grown so attached to humanity that they don’t want to fulfill their purpose. They want to stop the destruction of the Earth. Others cannot imagine disobeying their Celestial masters. As you can imagine, this boils down to an Eternal vs. Eternal showdown at the end.
Any battle scene with the Eternals in this film has merit. Since each character has their own power, they find creative ways to use them in concert together. Unfortunately, the Deviants (who are being sold as the main villains but are really a just side threat) are not very interesting foes. They look like Bayformers from one of the really bad Transformers films; all sinewy with tentacles that seem to defy physics. Generic and uninteresting to look at. One of the Deviants learns how to steal powers from Eternals and becomes a new threat. We’re never really told why he can do this, but he does, and he evolves.
With the battle lines drawn, two groups of Eternals fight. Needless to say the do-gooders trying to save the Earth, led by Sersi, are triumphant. However the planet’s surface itself is scarred by the near-emergence of Tiamut the Celestial, and this will undoubtedly be referenced in Marvel movies and shows in Phase 4. Our heroes and villains split up and go their separate ways. A defeated Ikaris flies into the sun, almost like his mythical counterpart. A small group take their triangular spaceship the Domo to go look for more Eternals. And they find one almost immediately, in the mid-credit scene! Patton Oswalt fans will like this, and what it could mean for the future.
In a clunky but hype-worthy post credit scene, Kit Harrington reveals his family’s cursed blade, but before touching it, is asked by an offscreen voice if he’s really ready for it. Of course we know he will be, in whatever spinoff he appears. But what really matters is who the offscreen voice is. Thanks to director Chloé Zhao, we know it was a guy who’s kind of an expert on blades. Welcome to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Blade (Mahershala Ali)!
Zhao’s knack for an outdoor scene made this Marvel movie seem bigger than any before it. The cosmic themes with a grounded Earth setting helped the movie stay accessible. At all times, our characters feel like humans. Her direction provides a visual feast, as well as human characters.
But it’s congested. While not fast paced, it feels like characters and concepts are rushed. Who is Phastos, who is Kingo? Let’s find out more about them. What has Sprite been doing all these centuries? Are Druig and Makkari ever going to hook up, and if so, why has it taken them 7000 years? Seriously, you could do an entire film on Druig and what he could have been up to, building strange utopias in the jungle. Makkari looks like she’s been on a hell of a lot of adventures, plus she can read a book in seconds. Let’s find out more about her, please.
Nitpick: in the film, Dane Whitman asks why the Eternals didn’t try to stop Thanos or anything else that’s happened in the MCU. I would also ask where the other Marvel heroes are when a giant head and hand start to emerge from the ocean. Where’s that beeper to Captain Marvel at a time like this? (Granted, she had to go somewhere pretty urgently at the end of the last Marvel movie, perhaps excusing herself from helping out in this film.)
Following so closely behind the truly Marvel-ous Shang-Chi, Eternals feels like an unfortunate misfire. The proof will be how it goes in rewatches. Two or three years down the road, it might be better appreciated. Or, it might be seen as an unfortunate corporate launchpad for new characters and concepts in the MCU. Those who enjoy the cosmic side of the universe, as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy and Loki, will delight in the massive Celestials, very well executed on screen. Could this all be priming our senses up for the eventual arrival of Galactus in Phase Five? Just speculation of course, but it seems more than possible.
See Eternals, but maybe do some research on the characters first before you go in completely dry.
On my way out, I said “screw it, I’m getting some popcorn”. I didn’t have any during the film having just had an early lunch. I buttered it extra heavy and brought it home with me.
In in update to this week’s story, #916: Oh My, I’ve Been Shot! (Again), I am pleased to provide all the nitty gritty details of getting a second jab in the arm of the ol’ mRNA vaccine.
Here it comes.
Are you ready?
I’m not kidding around when it comes to this stuff. All the nitty gritty details.
Jen and I have experienced an eventful week since getting the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine. On Tuesday night, about four hours after being shot in the arms, we experienced hunger, so we decided to order in. We selected Italian, and both ordered the same: aglio e olio with steak strips. We each finished about half. Later on that evening after watching American Dad, I experienced tiredness so I went to bed. In the morning, the first thing I noticed was that I was hungry, so I was naughty and finished my aglio for breakast. Around 10 that morning I went to Toys R Us and bought some Transformers, some Marvel Legends, and Star Wars Black Series figures. I then had an odd tingling sensation, of being lighter in the wallet. At the same time, a forgotten feeling in my chest emerged — the symptoms of joy from having scored cool stuff in a store once again.
Everything from this point on is simply a blur. I didn’t know what to do, so I enjoyed the day off I had booked for recovery, wrote a review, and had a generally awesome holiday.
In other words:
Jen and I experienced no side effects. Sore arms don’t count — that’s pretty much a universal complaint. I had an amusing moment when I was changing around my box set display. I was lifting a Def Leppard box over my head when I realized — oh shit, I can’t move my shoulder that high. I discovered through the day that if I used my arm only from the elbow down, I was good to go. I just avoided moving that shoulder. Went to work the next day. All good.
Jen and I had Pfizer in April, and Moderna this week. No side effects.
It feels good to be over and done with this (until the inevitable booster — or not). Now in a little over a week I’ll be at maximum immunity and I will be celebrating a birthday with my family. I want to sit down in a room and watch TV with my dad. That’s an activity I truly miss. His channel surfing accompanied by grumping and complaining was the highlight of every visit. I look forward to socializing with my family, playing board games, and maybe even going to see the next Marvel movie in a theater.
Oh! Speaking of Marvel — watched Black Widow last night, not bad. Widow was never my favourite Avenger; she and Hawkeye never resonated with me the way that Tony or Steve Rogers did. Having said that, Scarlett kicked it out of the park with a family-focused storyline and some serious action sequences. This was her Marvel tour-de-force and she had some intense one-on-one scenes. The final confrontation with Russian General Whatever-akov (Ray Winstone) was cool because it was different for a Marvel film. Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh — also some fine performances and not the last we will see of Pugh. And finally David Harbour. You just want to hug that big dirty smelly Russian teddy bear Alexei. This Marvel film was high on action, but also featuring slow and dramatic character scenes. A pretty fair balance. There were a couple neat twists, some cool shout-outs to the Avengers, and of course the obligatory post-credit scene. We have now seen four entries of the MCU’s Phase Four. Black Widow comes closest in scale to Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but far grittier. It’s closest in the sense that it’s character-driven, Earth-bound, and without magic or space aliens coming into play. And as to how this fits in with the future of the MCU even though it takes place in 2016? Watch the post-Blip, post credit scene.
All is well. Admittedly, I was worried about side effects. A couple of my good buddy co-hosts on the LeBrain Train experienced a day or two of uncomfortable side effects. So I listened to their experiences, planned ahead, booked a recovery day off work, and hoped for the best while preparing for the worst. We got lucky this time, which seems miraculous for Jen given her complex cross section of medical conditions. We rarely get lucky, but this time we did. Jen is much more social than I am, and she needs to be able to go out and interact socially with her friends. Me, I’m usually happy just to stay in and listen to music. Jen and I are good this way. So she is eager to rejoin society in whatever capacity given Ontario’s state of re-opening.
On last night’s episode of the LeBrain Train, I gave Covid-19 the finger for killing John Prine.
Let’s get this pandemic in the past. Whatever you are currently doing to keep yourself safe, you’re doing a good job, keep it up! We all live in different regions with different situations. Me, I live in Hot Spot, Canada. Stay out of the hospital. There is one LeBrain Train guest whose name I will keep private. He is a Covid long-hauler. He has felt shitty for 16 months. Any time something like that happens to someone close to me, it hits home. I’ve been saying this for 16 months: don’t be stupid. Stay safe. You matter.
I just think it’s cool that I have two Samuel L. Jackson figures in the same scale from the same toy company and from two of my favourite franchises.
The two figures are Marvel Legends’ Nick Fury (from Captain Marvel) and Star Wars The Black Series Mace Windu (Episode II and III). They use this new digital facial scanning technology to get the faces eerily accurate. Which do you think looks most like Jackson himself?
Sunday was what we call an “indoor day” at the lake. This is what I did with my indoor day.
The video took me most of the day, because my poor old laptop (10, this year) couldn’t handle all of the large files at once. So I started over from scratch and figured out a workaround until I was done about 7 hours later. I cooked, I went outside, I played with action figures, and I drank coffee until it finally saved without errors.
This video should scratch itches for a variety of people including:
1) Max the Axe fans – the full song “Randy” is included.
2) Dr. Kathryn Ladano fans – the full song “Masked” is included.
3) Those who enjoy driving videos. This is my first extensive use of my dash cam.
4) Nature buffs. You will hear real lake noises, rainstorms, and waves. You will see more cool underwater footage from the beaches of Lake Huron, and the legendary Greatest Sunset in the World.
5) Marvel / action figure fans. Look for a special “Build A Figure” Hulk.
You will not get:
1) Audio of me singing “Kissing Time” by Kiss; this was lost with the first version of the video.
2) Any of my pork chops.
But you can freely:
1) Live vicariously through me and absorb the good vibes through your monitor and speakers.
While visitors showing up on our little private road was not unexpected on a long weekend, it is disappointing when they show such little respect for the people who live here. A guy parked his ATV on our grass and said “Don’t get your knickers in a bunch” when my mom asked several times for him to move it. This came after arguing that he had the right to park there due to a “snow allowance”. There is no such thing.
Then we had Kenny the fireworks guys shooting off a “truck bed” full of firepower at 9:30 Saturday night. That was…distracting. As much as I love this place it certainly has changed in the last 45 years. Enjoy the video — the good the bad and the ugly!
My favourite single comic book growing up was Marvel Star Wars issue #47: “Droid World”. I have three copies today including the one I originally had back in 1981. The post-Empire period is the one I remember most fondly, even though Han Solo was absent from the story, frozen in Jabba’s dungeon. I took this issue everywhere with me. It is tattered but still barely holding together. At the lake or at home, I kept it near. I tried to draw the robots inside, with the comic pages splashed open on the driveway. Best friend friend Bob was with me with pen in hand.
I recently opened it again and came across a page that had to be Bob’s handiwork. He was the destructive one, not me. In ink he scrawled a word bubble on an ad page featuring the Hulk and a dollar bill with the face of Stan Lee. Stan Lee + Hulk = Stulk?
Whatever the reason for this comic book graffiti, at least I have my two backup copies of “Droid World”. I can’t remember him doing this but it had to be Bob!