Monday Morning Movie Review: Ponty’s Top Ten Worst Films: #6: Elf (2003)

We’re back with another of Ponty’s picks for the worst films of all time.  As always, Ponty delivers an interesting choice, this time for #6:  the Christmas film Elf (2003).

Elf is one of those movies I’ve never seen in its entirety, but I know about all-too-well.  It seems that every girl I’ve ever met loves this movie, but not just with some yuletide enthusiasm; they act like it’s the greatest Christmas film ever made.

I don’t know why that is.  Is it because women are incredibly social creatures, and bandwagon about everything remotely popular?  Is it because of the story about a son meeting his deadbeat dad and falling in love with a hipster?  Or is it just harmlessly funny, the kind of non-edgy humor women tend to prefer?

Whatever the reason, it makes me dislike the movie more, perhaps channeling the contrarian curmudgeon inside of me.

Needless to say, I’m with Ponty 100% on this one.

With that, here is Ponty’s review of 2003’s Elf:

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Civilization Series: Slayer of Productivity

The school year is winding down for yours portly, but before the clock stops and summer begins, there’s a flurry of last-minute activity.  This week is exam review week, which means an odd mixture of light and easy classes alongside frantic preparations for exams.  For students, it’s studying for the exams that has them stressed; for teachers, it’s putting the exams and their related review guides together.

In college, exam week was the time of the semester I squeezed in the most gaming.  Paradoxically, it was when I had the most free time.  I’d spend a few hours over the course of the week reviewing notes for history exams, or memorizing the singing exercise for my Jazz Theory final, but would spend the rest of that unstructured time diving into games, notably The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

Now I have far more responsibilities, but exam week still offers some unstructured time to get things done (most importantly, grading all of those exams!).  Unfortunately, I picked this weekend to dive back into Civilization VI, specifically the vanilla version on my Nintendo Switch Lite.

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Ponty’s Top Ten Worst Films: #7: Hatchet (2006)

The Ponty ‘n’ Portly Schlock-o-Rama rolls, on flipping back to Ponty’s countdown.

I can tell we’re really getting into the dregs already:  Ponty’s review of 2006’s Hatchet makes it sound like the most predictable slasher film ever made, coupled with unsympathetic characters.  The lead was apparently in Dodgeball (2004), but not Justin Long—the other nerdy guy.  I read the review thinking it was Long, which was bad enough.

But enough of my yackin’.  Let’s get on to Ponty’s review:

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Midweek Game Review: The Longing (2020)

As I’ve gotten older, I don’t have the opportunity to game nearly as much as I did as a teenager or college student.  I probably ill-spent too much of my youth playing video games, even though some of those games were steeped in lore, exploration, and critical thinking.  Now I actually get paid to play video games with kids a week or two every summer!

Otherwise, I don’t game nearly as much as I used to, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I do enjoy the opportunity to revisit old favorites and try intriguing new games.  My taste in games, like my taste in films, is eclectic, but increasingly inclined towards the experimental and quirky.

Enter The Longing, a 2020 indie game that has you controlling a tiny Shade who, after 400 days of waiting, must awaken the great, slumbering king of the underground.  The king must sleep for 400 days in order to regain his strength, at which time he will “end all longing” forever.

In the meantime, the Shade keeps a lonely vigil—for 400, real-time days.

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Ponty’s Top Ten Worst Films: #8: Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom (1984)

Ponty keeps the train wreck a-rollin’ with his eighth installment of Ponty’s Top Ten Worst Films (here are #9 and #10, in case you missed them).   This week, he’s going for one of the big boys:  1984’s Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.

I used to take the contrarian position that I liked The Temple of Doom.  As a kid I loved the whole opening sequence—Short Round, riding an inflatable raft to safety, etc.—and who could forget that quasi-Aztec Indian dude pulling the heart out of people’s chests?

Then I grew up and, as is often the case, the rose-tinted glasses of childhood gave way to the jaded monocle of experience.  While I still don’t think the movie is that bad, the love interest is incredibly obnoxious.  And as Ponty points out, the artifact is quite lame compared to THE HOLY GRAIL and THE ARK OF THE COVENANT!

Of course, how are you going to top those?  Unless it’s a piece of the True Cross or Noah’s Ark, there’s nothing else that really competes.

But don’t let me steal Ponty’s thunder.  I don’t want him ripping my still-beating heart from my chubby chest.

Here is Ponty’s review of his eighth worst film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984):

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Spring Break Short Story Recommendation 2022: “Witch’s Money”

Today’s Spring Break Short Story Recommendation 2022 comes from a very old, very tattered collection of short stories I purchased probably twenty or more years ago.  I think I picked it up on a trip with my grandparents when I was somewhere between the ages of ten and thirteen, the amorphous “tween” years.

The collection is called, simply, Short Story Masterpieces, and boasts Robert Penn Warren as one of its editors (the other being Albert Erskine).  I have a vague recollection of attempting to read some of the stories in our hotel room the night that I bought it, and realized that these stories were way over my head at that time.  I could read the words, but I could not comprehend them, at least not fully.

Short Story Masterpieces

However, one story that always stuck out to me was John Collier‘s “Witch’s Money.”  I probably flipped to that story because it had “witch” in the title, and even back then ghost stories and the like fascinated me.  The story—which was published in The New Yorker in 1939—has little to do with hags and haunts, but instead explores a fatal misunderstanding about the nature of “cheques” (or “checks” to my fellow American readers).

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Spring Break Short Story Recommendation 2022: “The Machine Stops”

As is my custom, I dedicate a few days each Spring Break to recommending and reviewing various short stories.  Typically, I read through an anthology of short stories over break and highlight three or four of the best stories from them.

However, I neglected to take an anthology with me when I left town for Easter weekend, and I didn’t have the time to pluck one from my parents’ substantial library.  So, I’m doing a one-off today (and possibly for other Spring Break Shorty Story Recommendation 2022 installments this week), although I am sure this story has appeared in many anthologies.

The story is E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops,” which I wrote about in brief in another post in April 2020, during the early days of The Age of The Virus.  The Z Man wrote about it in one of his posts from the time, which intrigued me enough to read the story.

It is, I believe, one of the great works of prophetic science fiction.  There’s a great deal of that from the mid-twentieth century; Forster was predicting things like FaceTime and social media in 1909.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Spring Concert 2022 Postmortem

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This past Wednesday night was the Spring Concert for my students.  As is my custom, I like to do a concert “postmortem” with my students to talk about what went well, and what we could improve (myself included) for the next concert.

This year’s concert really went over well.  Anecdotally, I was told that a number of parents said something along the lines of “I thought last year’s concert was good, but this one was even better.”  I do think we hit the runtime just right:  the concert kicked off a few minutes after 6 PM, and we wrapped up right around 7:15 PM.  That’s with our dance classes performing in the middle of the program.

We split the concert into three parts:  an opening section with Middle School Music and a couple of solos; the dance classes performing six pieces; and a closing section with my High School Music Ensemble (and a few more solos).

With that, here is a breakdown of the two musical portions.

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