Time-travel love stories: some recommedations (#SFWApro)

Continuing with my recommendation for time-travel movies other than the ones every “Best” list recycles. Which is why despite its charms, Somewhere in Time isn’t on this list of love films  — that’s one everyone knows. And yes, I should have written this for Valentine’s Day, my bad.

209007_1020_AQUEST FOR LOVE (1971) is a personal favorite. It’s schmaltzy as hell and has the implausible Exact Double resolution but even so. Brilliant physicist Tom Bell is hurled into a parallel world where he’s a famous playwright (WW II never happened, JFK is alive and running the League of Nations, Everest hasn’t been climbed, to name other divergences). He’s also a complete douchebag whose wife, Joan Collins (and lord, was she gorgeous back then) despises him — can Bell convince her he’s a different man now? And even when he does, all is not well … “If the time we’ve spent together is all there is, it’s been enough.”

Molly Ringwald’s TWICE UPON A TIME (1998) has her as a frustrated business woman — didn’t get the promotion, wishes she’d married her baseball-star ex-boyfriend, tired of her beta-male beau — plunged into an alternate world where women executives bond over power croquet games, her mom is alive (better cancer treatments) and she did marry the ball player. By the end, of course, she realizes where her heart lies and it’s not with him … not an A-lister, but fun, and I like that Ringwald’s selfish parallel-world counterpart wants to get home just as much as Molly-One does.

FAMILY MAN (2000) is an excellent Nicolas Cage film in which angel Don Cheadle shows him the parallel world where he married his college sweetheart (Téa Leoni) and became a tire-store manager and yes, family man, instead of a corporate shark. Well done, charming and extra points for acknowledge the Leoni in the original timeline is not going to be the same person as the alt.version.

ME MYSELF I (1999) is an Aussie movie with Rachel Griffiths going through the Family Man experience. It’s fun too, mostly because of Griffiths’ strong performance in the lead.

11 MINUTES AGO (2009) has a time-traveler from the future (Ian Mauro) crash a wedding party in the course of gathering some samples for his research. Oddly, everyone remembers him from earlier in the evening, but why would he have come back there again when it takes so long to prepare for a time jump? Then he meets Christina Mauro, who remembers him very well indeed, and he starts to understand … I found this charming, but my sister and our best friend hated it, so fair warning.

HAPPY ACCIDENTS (2000) stars Vincent D’Onofrio as a time traveler whose come back from his dystopian future to win the heart of Marisa Tomei. She thinks he’s crazy with all his time-travel talk, but they can make this work, right? She hasn’t just fallen for the wrong guy again … has she? D’Onofrio does a great job as someone just slightly out of synch with the way people are supposed to behave in our time.

IL MARE (2000) is the Korean film remade as the Sandra Bullock/Keanu Reaves The Lake House, and I think I prefer it (though I do like the remake too). As in the later film, two people living in the same house two years apart discover they can send mail to each other, fall in love, and try to arrange a meeting. It appears, at the climax, that everything’s gone horribly wrong, but is it really too late?

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Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel

New Screen Rant column out (#SFWApro)

swampthing1This one’s on sixteen super-heroes whose origins were massively rewritten. Swamp Thing goes from man-monster to demigod, Spider-Man got his powers from magic, Falcon being a street hustler instead of a social worker (yeah, they aren’t all gems).  Cover by Berni Wrightson, all rights with current holder.

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Michael Flynn, abortion and other links.

•You may have heard that Michael Flynn has stepped down as Trump’s National Security Adviser due to his covert discussions with Russian representatives about Obama’s sanctions on Russia. It’s unclear, from what I’ve read, whether he made any promises to Russia about lifting them or negotiating them, which would be illegal. But in any case, right-bloggers know who’s really to blame: Obama! And both Paul Ryan and Rand Paul are on the case — which is to say, they’ve decided there is no case.  Digby looks at whether Flynn lied to the FBI (which is illegal). Given the Republicans softened their election platform last year on defending the Ukraine, did Flynn propose any deal with the Russians? Dan Rather compares this to the early stages of Watergate.

Even if Trump did cut some deal with the Russians (e.g., hack the Clinton campaign, I’ll be nice to you when I’m president), will Congress care? Nixon withered under heavy Congressional scrutiny, but Congressional Republicans are okay with having a white supremacist president as long as he delivers on their policy wishes. A lot of people, including me, assumed they’d be happy to have Pence (solid Republican, anti-abortion, not crazy) but maybe they’re afraid all the Trump voters will stay home in 2018 if they reject him?

•An Oklahoma bill would require pregnant women get the father’s written permission before an abortion. Rep. Justin Humphrey explained it’s because women who get pregnant when they don’t want the baby are irresponsible sluts, and aquariums: “I understand that they feel like that is their body. I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,”

•A Tennessee bill would classify children of artificial insemination as illegitimate.

•A Florida bill would let women who get abortions sue the provider for negligence up to 10 years after the operation (the normal statute of limitations for medical negligence is two years). Even if the woman signs a consent form, that doesn’t immunize the provider.

•The standard bullshit criticism of women in power is that they’re too emotional, lose control when their hormones surge, and can’t keep themselves under control. Which makes Trump a parody of a woman in authority.

•There are startlingly few laws preventing child marriage in this country.

•Thomas Frank looks at how Steve Bannon blames the 2008 economic crunch on the hippies. This argument — the left rejected traditional morals, therefore all immoral behavior ever since is the fault of the left — is not new, but usually it’s just used for “hippy punching.” This time Bannon’s point is that deregulation and bad business decisions didn’t really cause the financial meltdown because, hippies, so deregulation good!

•One conservative argues that just because Trump talked about banning Muslim refugees, we shouldn’t assume that his Muslim ban is actually based on religion. LGM politely disagrees.

•This Ruthless World on not having sympathy for Trump voters.

•So apparently some anti-semites have decided John Carpenter’s They Live is about the secret Jewish conspiracy to take us over rather than, say, the corrupting influence of money (which it is about). But as I pointed out in Screen Enemies of the American Way, the bogeymen of one conspiracy theory (real or fictional) do tend to blur into each other. So I’m not surprised.

•About that Republican commitment to state’s rights — apparently if a state wants to create a retirement system for poorer workers, that’s a bad thing.

•Digby predicts that while other parts of the administration may flounder in inefficiency, the Sessions Justice Department will probably be very efficient at vote suppression, drug crack-downs, and resisting any efforts to reform or challenge bad prosecutors and out-of-control cops.

•An example of misogynoir?

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Titans, Time Travel, Tractors and More! (#SFWApro)

TEEN TITANS: The Culling and TEEN TITANS: The Trial of Kid Flash show author Scott Lobdell (with various artists) at his best and work on this strip (don’t get your hopes up, even his best isn’t that good). The former reminded me of all the reasons I stopped reading X-Men during the 1990s — bombastic villains, sadistic villains, umpty-zillion dark secrets. As I said of X-Men: The Shattering, it’s a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Although I will give the editors points — there’s a crossover issue that isn’t included here, and they actually provide a synopsis, rather than leaving me going “Huh?”

The second TPB was Lobdell’s last with the team and he does a fair job wrapping things up on a mostly happy note; on the other hand, the political plotline (Kid Flash’s secret life as a future terrorist) gets very muddled.

SUPERMAN: War of the Supermen by James Robinson, Sterling Gates and various artists was the climax to a story arc involving the long-lost survivors of Krypton settling into the solar system under the leadership of General Zod and Superman having to figure out whether his loyalties lie with New Krypton or Earth. I found this story arc interminable and dull, but I must admit this final segment is pretty entertaining as it’s all action — Krypton invades, Earth retaliates, Superman battles Zod, etc. However Zod’s still a dull villain — as I’ve said before, nobody can think of anything to do with him other than vicious Kryptonian supremacist (but Superman II has embedded him too deeply in the mythos not to recycle endlessly, I guess).

I thought Eric Shanower had long ago given up on his Age of Bronze series adapting the Trojan War myths but BETRAYAL Part II turned up at the local library. This focuses primarily on the doomed love of Troilus and Cressida, which works well; however I don’t find Shanower’s normally excellent art works with the battle scenes, and there’s a lot of those. So a curate’s egg (partly good, partly not).

THE HISTORY OF LUCY’S LOVE LIFE IN TEN AND A HALF CHAPTERS by Deborah Wright is a paranormal chick-lit tale in which a woman getting cold feet with her boyfriend uses a time machine to try out the Great Lovers of History. Even if I hadn’t spent two years watching time-travel films, nothing in this is terribly new as Lucy keeps discovering life in the past isn’t as easy or smooth as she imagined. In fairness, I don’t read much chick-lit, but I’ve read some and liked it better.

1918FORDSON, FARMALL AND POPPIN’ JOHNNY: A History of the Farm Tractor and its Impact on America by Robert C. Williams (all rights to image of Fordson Tractor with current holder; source here) chronicles how tractors, like so much later tech, went from a high-priced tool few could afford to an indispensable part of farm life. Henry Ford’s Fordson tractor was a major player in the transition, thanks to assembly-line manufacturing cutting costs and prices. However the Fordson was still too big to work with row crops like cotton or corn, so it wasn’t until the smaller, more maneuverable Farmall that farmers could completely replace horses with machines. Whether that was ultimately good or bad, Williams finds hard to say, savings in labor and time being counterbalanced by farmers shifting from self-sufficiency to debt in order to afford the machinery (“Being a farmer is now as much about managing finance as managing crops.”). Specialized, obviously, but good if the topic interests you

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Movies and TV: Librarians to Come (#SFWApro)

thingstocome1024x768-220x162THINGS TO COME (1936) is a classic adaptation of H.G. Wells, opening in 1940 with Raymond Massey as a visionary horrified that Europe is rushing toward war (like a number of pre-WW II movies I’ve seen, it views the coming of another Great War as hell on Earth). When it comes, it’s bad, sending England (and presumably the rest of the world) back to the dark ages, but scientists and aviators unite in a brotherhood to put an end to the dark times. Decades later, Raymond Massey is getting ready to launch the world’s first moonshot, but even in the 21st century, some people are determined to stop progress. A really great-looking film with good effects, and if some details don’t age well (buildings don’t have windows because who needs inefficient glass in the walls with good indoor light?), the movie’s vision still works for me. With Cedric Hardwicke as a local warlord. “Our revolution didn’t eliminate death and danger, it just made death and danger worthwhile.”

The second season of THE LIBRARIANS was almost as much fun as the first, as the agents of the magical library battle the usual array of magical foes and the season’s big bad, a mysteriously brought-to-life Prospero (and his sidekick Moriarty).  Most of the run was just as good as S1, particularly a Northern Exposure parody, but I thought the ending was weak, making me wonder why they even used Moriarty. And I wish they’d given more of the final episode of the season to the junior librarians rather than nominal star Noah Wylie — they’re actually more fun. “Special Agent Ezekiel Jones is a rule-breaking maverick, but he gets results!”

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I rode myself hard and hung myself up—wait, does that sound right? (#SFWApro)

It was a week that did not go as I planned.

I submitted my first Screen Rant article, and then my second, but they both took way longer than wanted. And that required really pushing myself, hence the title. I need to trim the time down, and I need to relax and have more fun with the writing too. I love comics, which makes it easy; I’m working under a tight deadline and specific format requirements which makes me veer serious. I did better with the second one though (I’ll post a link when it’s up), so hopefully next week will be better yet.

I have my History article on tractors 80 percent done, and I should be able to get it out next week. So yay!

And I started indexing Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast for a Createspace edition. If I’m going to go hard-copy, it should have an index. Annoyingly, I found one minor error in the intro, so I have to correct the ebook too. I’ll wait to see if I find any more — indexing is good for that.

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But I got almost no fiction written, which is not yay. That’s happened before and not that long ago — back last year when I was wrapping up Now and Then We Time Travel, for instance. However, I don’t want to be doing that now, if I can help it. I enjoy nonfiction (obviously. I’ve written enough of it), but fiction is the reason I write. And I do want to get two more drafts of Southern Discomfort in this year. So like I said, I’d better get more efficient.

I am pleased that despite the rush to finish up Screen Rant #2, I made time for essential stuff like exercise, and making sourdough bread while the dogs were in doggy day-care on Thursday. It’s important not to let even demanding deadlines roll over normal life, if I can possibly help this (and if I want to do Screen Rant regularly, I have to help it). I was sufficiently rushed I forgot adding the salt to the dough (sourdough buckwheat bread) but that’s easy to fix with a little salt sprinkled on each slice. It’s an easy mistake — I’ve done it before when I was rushed.

I’ll close with a shot of some dead leaves I took this week. It symbolizes … well, whatever you want. Free symbol! Please credit me if you want to use it.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Now and Then We Time Travel, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Southern Discomfort, Time management and goals, Writing

Book cover art for Friday morning (#SFWApro)

leodianedillonThis weird-looking one is by Leo and Diane Dilon.

dailyb-1Great Michael Whelan cover (aren’t they all) for a clunky Lovecraftian novel.

frazettaFrazetta draws Bradbury.

bob-brownAnd because I love impossible-doorway images, here’s a comics cover by Bob Brown.

All rights to each image reside with current holder

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