Monday Morning Movie Review: The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

Those of us who were children in the early 1990s will remember Super Mario Bros. (1993).  It was the first time a video game had been adapted for film—ever, and, sure, WarGames (1983) was about playing a computer game, but Super Mario Bros. was the first time an actual video game IP had been made for the big screen—-and we were all super (no pun intended) excited to see our favorite 8-bit (well, 16-bit, by that point) heroes, Mario and Luigi, on film (note—there was a WarGames video game, but it was released in 1984 and was based on the film, not the other way around).  I was eight when the movie was released, so I was old enough to be aware of the hype surrounding the film.  The schoolyard was abuzz with anticipation.

Unfortunately, you probably know how the rest of the story goes:  it was an abysmal failure.  The film bore little resemblance to the 2D platformer we all loved, and while Dennis Hopper certainly makes for an intimidating antagonist, he bore little resemblance to Bowser (he was “King Koopa” in the film).  I remember watching the movie as a kid (we rented it) and being baffled by what was happening.  Why was everything so dark and dystopian?  It was a far too impressionistic endeavor to work as an adaptation of a beloved video game that captured the imagination of children.

The film was such a disaster, critically and financially, that Nintendo shied away from any more forays into cinema for thirty years.  Other than some cartoons on television, Nintendo did not go near Hollywood for three solid decades.

Now, when movie-going is struggling to revive itself after The Age of The Virus, Nintendo has reentered the ring with The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023), a film that may very well save Hollywood from its penchant for wokery and poor box office receipts.  More importantly, it’s the Mario Bros. movie we should have gotten thirty years ago.

Better late than never, eh, Nintendo?

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Lazy Sunday CCIII: Myersvision, Part V

After four retrospective installments of Myersvision, we’re finally getting into Audre Myers‘s pet (no pun intended) project:  Bigfoot.  Audre would never dream of keeping a Bigfoot as a pet—she has too much respect for the creatures—but she loves to scrutinize the myriad sources about him.

Brace yourself for more Bigfoot in the Lazy Sundays to come.  We’re through Audre’s looking glass here:

  • Myersvision: Iceman (1984)” – The non-cryptozoology piece this weekend, here is Audre’s review of 1984’s Iceman.  This film is a forgotten gem—or, perhaps, ice crystal.
  • Myersvision: My Very Large Friend” – No, Audre didn’t write this piece about yours portly.  It’s about Bigfoot, and about some of the sightings of the “big lug,” as I call him, around the world.
  • Myersvision: Project Bigfoot” – Audre breaks down a video containing multiple parts, giving her quick analysis and hot takes of each section.

Happy Sunday!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT^2: Disincentives to Work

The Great Resignation rolls on, with an ever-shrinking number of competent people shouldering an ever-growing load of the work to be done.  If you’ve noticed that everything seems a little less generous or efficient than it used to be, it’s because fewer and fewer people are willing to work for abysmal wages, long hours, and dehumanizing treatment.

What I can’t figure out is why employers have not woken up to the reality of this situation:  if you’re facing massive labor shortages, the only solution is to offer more money and/or benefits to employees.  Granted, some employers have caught on, and are offering higher hourly wages and more flexibility.  I also recognize that some employers, especially smaller companies, simply can’t afford to pay more than they already are.

Still, I can’t help but notice employers are obstinately trying to get one over on their few remaining employees, trapped in thickets of corporate bureaucracy and New Speak that refuses to acknowledge the shifting tides of the labor market.  Often their stringent leave policies stay on the books but go unenforced.

For example, a friend of mine works at a big box hardware store in a tony suburb of Charleston, South Carolina.  She informs me that the store’s policy is that missing work without notice twice is grounds for immediate dismissal, but the policy is no longer enforced because the story is already so short-staffed, they can’t afford to fire employees for playing hooky.

The problem is that the employees who do show up to work bear the strain of their absent colleagues, and the corporate management shrugs its shoulders.

It may be that we’re entering a phase where large retailers and other companies will simply have to stop providing all services to all people.  My same friend told me how the store stays open until 10 PM, but there are virtually no employees at that hour.  I suspect the thinking is, “we have to be accessible to customers for as long possible; if we don’t our competitors will.”  Yet the same store doesn’t open up its pro contractor’s desk on Saturdays or after 5 PM on weekdays, so that doesn’t necessarily track.

Large companies aren’t exactly known for their logical consistency, but it seems that many workers are getting fed up with the lack of it.  Of course, employees aren’t off the hook, either:  we have all encountered plenty of braindead or discourteous store employees that turn shopping for a wing nut into a baffling ordeal.

Regardless, our attitudes about work are certainly changing, in some ways for the better, in some ways for the worse.  It’s probably good that we’re not ceaseless strivers competing against Bill from Accounting for The Big Promotion.  But we need to reiterate the idea that work is ennobling for its own sake—and hiring managers and their ilk need to treat their employees as human beings.

With that, here is 26 May 2022’s “TBT: Disincentives to Work“:

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Two Mexican Horror Films

Last Friday Americans got blitzed celebrating the short-lived victory of Mexican forces against the invading French army on 5 May 1862 at the First Battle of Puebla.  Cinco de Mayo enjoys greater observance here in the United States than in Mexico due to a.) the strong ties between the United States and Mexico dating back to the nineteenth-century (ties that are increasingly fraying as Mexico becomes a failed state) and b.) major marketing campaigns by American alcohol manufacturers.  Now we invoke the spirit of the Puebla and General Ignacio Zaragoza with tequila and tacos, a sort of Mex-American Independence Day.

To commemorate the occasion, streaming service Shudder has uploaded some Mexican horror films to their lineup, and I managed to squeeze a couple of them in over the weekend between The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023; review coming soon), a second screening of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. III (2023; I enjoyed it more the second time), Mother’s Day, and recovering from last week.

I’d never heard of the two films before, but both were enjoyable.  The first was Darker than Night (1975; sometimes “Blacker than Night” or “Blacker Than the Night“; Más Negro que la Noche in Mexico); the second—my favorite of the two was Poison for the Fairies (1984; Veneno para las hadas in Mexico).

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Supporting Friends Friday: Scoop’s Blog

Our senior correspondent and resident Bigfoot expert Audre Myers reached out to me with a request:  could I, she wondered, give a shout-out (my term, not hers) to a friend’s blog?

The friend is Scoop, a regular commenter over at Nebraska Energy Observer.  Unbeknownst to yours portly, dear old Scoop has a blog with the somewhat unwieldy title Smoke of Satan & the Open Windows of Vatican II.

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Myersvision: Consider if You Will…

Audre Myers just can’t resist the alluring song of the Bigfoot, and keeps coming back to drink at the well of grainy video footage and armchair cryptozoological speculation.  As she quaffs away, we benefit from her insights in the form of thoughtful analyses of our big hairy friend.

What I still can’t get over is the lack of compellingclear footage of Bigfoot.  There’s always some post hoc rationalization for why the video doesn’t work (one of the more infamous examples I recall is the gentleman who had a branch in front of his trail cam, and the labored explanation that the infrared light emitted from it washed out the image).  Some of these videos of alleged sightings are so blurry, it seems that the power of suggestion is at play more than clear examination.  We want to see a Bigfoot, so we see one.  Clever YouTubers will draw a conical outline around the fuzzy form and proclaim, “Ah ha!  See!  It must be Bigfoot because it has a head shaped like a cone!”  Maybe it’s just Dan Aykroyd reprising his role in Coneheads (1993).  Now you’ll start seeing him when you watch this blurry footage.

This video, however, seems different.  Whatever the creature is, it is massive.

I’ll let Audre explain it from here:

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)

Friday night I went and saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) on a whim.  I hadn’t realized the flick was already out, as I’ve been knee-deep in end-of-the-school-year responsibilities.  After celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Thai food (the Thai place was a lot less crowded than the Mexican restaurants), my companion proposed we check out the latest Guardians flick, so on a whim we made it to a showing that had just started rolling the previews.

I’m a big fan of the first two films.  When I first saw the original Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) nine years ago (has it been that long?), I was hooked.  I compared it favorably to the Star Wars trilogy, and in the wake of the disastrous sequel trilogy in that franchise, the Guardians trilogy serves as an excellent alternative for Star Wars fans slavering for more intergalactic hijinks.

The elements are there in both sets of films:  a group of immature misfits get tossed together into an ad hoc group of unlikely heroes, who, despite their shortcomings and inexperience, grow together to defeat a greater evil.  Along the way, they forge friendships together, and come to learn more about themselves and each other.

The original Star Wars trilogy pulls this off better than Guardians, especially in the wake of this third installment.  Just as Star Wars has its Return of the Jedi (1983)—a fun conclusion to the story, but not quite as weighty as its predecessors, Guardians has its Vol. 3, which is full of bizarre creatures, but is actually much heavier and darker in tone than its predecessors.

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TBT^2: Egged Off

Longtime reader fridrix commented a couple of weeks ago that was “[l]oving how you nest these annual pieces like matryoshka dolls.🪆”  While casting about for a TBT post, I couldn’t resist more matryoshka-esque nesting, and eggs seem quite similar to the pear-shaped Russian dolls.  Surely we’ve all nested little plastic Easter eggs into bigger plastic Easter eggs, no?

This post was itself a throwback to a 30 April 2021 post about excessive officiousness in the enforcement of laws that, while they may serve a purpose, are typically of no great harm to anyone.  The original post dealt with two little girls who in Texas who had their roadside egg stand shut down due to lack of proper licensure and oversight from the local government and the State’s health department (if there is any government more odious than various departments of health—the dreaded SC DHEC here in South Carolina—I can’t think of it).

Since then, eggs are even more expensive, yet many municipalities—including my own—don’t allow the raising of chickens inside town limits.  I find this restriction extremely short-sighted and, well, stupid.  In broaching the subject (mildly) with my fellow councilmembers, I found some reserved support, but the one member who took the time to respond to me at length worried about—you guessed it—health concerns.

I’ve noticed something, and it’s not an original insight:  we’re not longer a society premised on “ask forgiveness, not permission.”  Everything is restricted now, and it’s always because of the worst-case scenario.  People are worried about chickens getting out due to irresponsible owners (never mind that stray cats will take care of any stray chickens quite quickly).  Why should we calibrate all of our policies to the lowest common denominator?

Sure, you’re going to have someone who will raise the chickens poorly, or not pen them properly, and it will create a nuisance.  But most people who will take the time to build or buy a coop, purchase hens, buy feed, and all the rest are not going to risk their flock with reckless abandon.  They’re going to take proactive steps to protect their investment.

The positive good of lots of cheap eggs—and the ability to distribute them liberally to neighbors—outweighs the possible risk of one or two bad eggs—pardon the expression—letting their Bantams roam the streets (if the stray cats don’t get them, the speeding motorists will—ah, the circle of life).

With that, here is 5 May 2022’s “TBT: Egged Off“:

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Dorothy Sayers and “The Lost Tools of Learning”

“For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.” —Dorothy Sayers

What a powerful sentiment, because it is True! I recently had occasion to read Dorothy Sayers’s speech—later adapted into an essay—entitled “The Lost Tools of Learning“; it was akin to my first reading of Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences: a lightning bolt of the True and the Good striking directly upon my mind.

In the speech, Sayers lays out the medieval method of learning, the Trivium, consisting of Grammar, Dialectic (or Logic), and Rhetoric, we she argues should be divided into age-appropriate stages (the “Poll-Parrot,” the “Pert,” and the “Poetic”).  Each stage corresponds with one aspect of the Trivium (the Poll-Parrot studies Grammar, the Pert studies Logic, and the Poetic studies Rhetoric), and while the ages aren’t precise, they basically include when children are knowledge sponges and can learn anything (the parrot, roughly elementary school and earlier); the stage when children start questioning everything and love trapping adults in logical contradictions (the pert, roughly middle school); and the age in which children are on the cusp of adulthood (around fourteen- or fifteen-years old).

This essay is an absolute must-read.  It is long, however, so I’m offering up some of my thoughts on the essay, which has already taken root in my soul, forcing me to re-examine and reconsider how I approach teaching.

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