Tag Archives: war

Films 190 – 198

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Force Majeure. The ideas raised about who we are and how we get through life, and the haunting images employed have stuck with me. Good film.

Lethal Weapon. It’s been a while. I’d forgotten the whole Vietnam vet angle. Mostly holds up. Good 80s buddy cop shoot ‘me up. Plus Busey.

Central Intelligence. Haven’t laughed this consistently throughout a movie in forever. Hart and Johnson crush it + Smart women + 16 Candles.

Sixteen Candles. The sweet parts were even sweeter. The Duck Dong parts were more uncomfortable. Hall, the little nerd, still cracked me up.

Secret Life of Pets. Took a while, but once things started happening I was sucked in. Very funny. Loved the old Basset Hound. Fliberty floo!

American Sniper. Know who wasn’t in this movie? The fuckers who made oil money in Iraq at expense of American soldiers and their families.

Ghostbusters. I enjoyed it fine. Plot had some holes. But I laughed some. But with this cast, it seems like it should have been funnier.

Mel Brooks: Make a Noise. Standard biodoc. But fun to get a little behind the scenes of his films. And Mel and Anne are super cute together.

The Warriors. As dumb & fun as It ever was. Back when NYC was terrible. Luther’s even crazier than I’d remembered. Come out and PLAAY-YAYYY!

Savage Tales #1

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Savage Tales #1

From the looks of the cover, my first thought was that Marvel was going to do their version of Heavy Metal magazine with maybe a post-apocalypse bent. But that wasn’t their intent. In fact, when you open up the magazine you are greeted with a title page laid out in 48 point font declaring that this magazine is to carry stories of pulpy violence, and if the reader wants something else, he should look elsewhere. The intro is written in the tone and voice of the pulp writers–“You want philosophy, read Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Proust. They wrote it good.” And while that declared promise is broken right out of the gate with the first story, making one’s goal to give the reader nothing to think about, nothing to ponder in these self-declared stories of “only violence,” may have something to do with this magazine having a run of just 9 issues.

There are 5 stories in this book, each by a different writer and artist. Each one is set in a different violent setting. There’s the Vietnam story,  a western story, a jungle war story, a post-WWII story, and a post-apocalypse/crime-ridden future story.

The first story is a Vietnam war story that eventually spun off into its own comic–The ‘Nam. The story is kind of set up as an introduction to more stories to come, with an introduction of the ragtag group of soldiers, each with his own set of quirky traits.

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It tells the story of a soldier demonstrating true courage, sacrificing his life to save the lives of his friends. The story’s not that interesting, unless this is maybe your first war comic ever. But self sacrifice and its implications is something worth exploring. The story’s not that interesting, but the ending is satisfying. Something that can’t be said for all if theses stories.

The second story, the jungle war story, which takes place in a sort of dystopian future, but not very far in the future, has everything a good story needs, except a good story. This setting and characters are intriguing, a group of rebels in the jungle who use biplanes and other such salvaged technology from the past to fight an organization, presumably a government or corporation of some sort that has access to high tech jets and such.

But I didn’t get enough of that to be hooked. A short story is tricky that way. In a novel, graphic or otherwise, the author has more time to draw the reader in, to make him care about what’s going on before the stakes get raised and the action begins.  A good short story, graphic or otherwise, can do that, but I think it’s more difficult. This jungle story, and really the majority of the stories in this book, don’t set that hook. The investment by the reader is not there. So when the hot rebel girl steals the jet, and in the process of getting away has to ditch the plane and parachute safely back in the jungle, and she does, and the end, I was left thinking a page or four was missing from the story. Because, so what?

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The next story involves the revenge killing of a Nazi officer. It’s one of the better stories in the collection. We get a little twist at the end which is ultimately pretty dumb and turns a story of possible redemption into a story of revenge and the myth of redemptive violence.

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My favorite story in the book is “Blood & Gutz: A Pizza.” It involves a man, Blood, going down the street for a pizza in a post-apocalypse crime-ridden Los Angeles. The story is basically a long set up for a punch line. But the fights are fun, as is Blood’s casual attitude toward all of the danger around him.

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The final story is a Western, one of my favorite genres. But I think this story is the weakest of the lot.  It’s about some soldiers tracking down some deserters.  After some shooting, the deserters are apprehended.  Their punishment, besides being tied for a while out in the sun? Reenlistment in the army. Du-du-dummmm!  Endings are hard I guess.

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So it’s probably clear that I mostly didn’t like this book.  The writing is weak and the stories mostly uninteresting.  Maybe that’s why I only bought one issue.  Or maybe I just bought one because I knew that issue #1 would be the one to be worth hundreds of dollars some day.  But I will say this, this magazine is great to look at.  The art is varied from story to story, with each style perfectly fitting the tone of its piece.  The art for the western story looks westerny and the art for “A Pizza” is fun and scary just like the story.

So Savage Tales is ok.  If you can turn off your brain and just enjoy the stories for their pretty pictures, you’re in good shape. If you want more than that, then just keep walking.  Or find some Schopenhauer or Kierkegaard, or some old Secrets of Haunted House comics.

Catan Card Game

Number 44 on Mark’s top 100 games list is Rival’s for Catan.  A game I haven’t played.  But I have played its predecessor, Catan Card Game.  Before I say what I’m going to say below, I should say that in Mark’s article he stresses that the improvements made to this game in it’s most recent incarnation make it a *much* better game.  So that’s not really the game I’m talking about here.

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This is one that I’ve had for a while, the original English version and some expansions. My daughter and I are the only ones who have played it, and there for a while we played it quite a bit. We mostly played without the expansions, and there are some expansions that we have never used.  But it’s been a while since it’s seen the light of day.  I think this may be because it’s been replaced by Summoner Wars.

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I know they’re not the same. Catan Card Game is about building a little community, one of my favorite themes. This dates back to Private Property I think, one of my favorite games as a kid.  Some decisions to be made, granted, not a lot, but some. And it’s a game with great pieces. And you get to turn an old dump into a high-class tourist wonderland.  Develop, develop, develop!

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And Summoner Wars is a war, a magical skirmish. And it’s a great game. (I don’t want to say too much about it as I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t show up later on Mark’s list.) So thematically the games are different. But when my daughter and I want a medium weight card game, Summoner Wars gives us the same fun in half the time, with a lot more player interaction. Heck, Prize Property probably offers more player interaction. Catan Card Game just seems a bit long and repetitive for what it is.

 

Sgt. Rock #382

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Sgt. Rock #382,November 1983.  The feature story was written by Robert Kanigher; the artist is Dan Spiegle. I haven’t read a lot of Sgt. Rock comics, so maybe this is typical.  But this book seems like the editors said, “We don’t have a story for this month? Well, see what bits and pieces we have lying around and let’s put something together!”  The cover is totally cool.  But in the meantime . . .

The feature story, which is just a few pages long involves the men of Easy Company taking a city from the Nazis which has been impenetrable to all of the other U.S. soldiers who have tried.  Maybe it’s because Easy Company is a cross section of America. There’s a an Irishman, a Native American, an African American, a guy with glasses, a really big guy with a beard, etc.  Plus, Easy used a bazooka to blast through the barricade, something none of the other groups had thought of.  After blowing up the barricade and all of the snipers who were hiding behind it, they make quick business of the few remaining soldiers in the town. Finally they overpower a group of children led by a bloodthirsty fanatical teen Nazi (my new favorite band), forcing them to surrender. That’s the crazed teen on the cover. The story ends with him dying and the rest of the kids as POWs. And then this cryptic comment.

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I have no idea what that means.

There are five, count ’em, five other short pieces in this book.  One of them is a story about the Native American soldier, Little Sure Shot, saving some civilians from the Nazis while earning the right to wear a shorter feather on his helmet.  The best part of this story is the opening when Little Sure Shot is playing with a grenade and thinking about what his ancestors could have done if they’d had such a thing 500 years ago.

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Of the other four pieces, one is a single page joke, the art and the joke being not quite the standards of Family Circus. You can hear the trombone Waaa waaaa-ing after the punch line.  The other three are labeled “Battle Album.” One double page spread gives a short history of the Native American Ghost Dance and the resulting slaughter of women and children at Wounded Knee. Another two-page spread gives a brief history of the mercenary wars in Europe in the 1600’s that resulted in the death tens of thousands.  “The mercenary knights fought and killed not for honor . . . or home . . . or country! Only for money!” (Today’s discussion question–Have people ever really fought for anything else?)  The last Battle Album is a single page about how cool the F-111 fighter plane is.

Sgt. Rock is an interesting book tonally. The theme throughout seems to be that war is really terrible,

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but also really cool at the same time.

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I think that’s a theme that is difficult for an artist to avoid when dealing with war in a thoughtful way. Movies, like Apocalypse Down or Full Metal Jacket, for example, movies that the film makers set out to make as anti-war, are often embraced by soldiers as inspiring rather than challenging. That probably speaks to how people resist challenges to important and strongly held beliefs.  But it also is about how big machines, and big guns, and big explosions, and big men are cool.  Sgt. Rock is not a mindless Kill-Em-All–America-Rules! book.  It knows war is terrible.  But it’s a comic book.  And it’s entertainment. And just as the characters  of Sgt. Rock and Easy Company are pretty cool and bad-ass, it seems like war might be that way some too.

One bazooka up.