Saturday night, I took Melissa to see Oblivion. The trailers looked interesting, I had heard good things about it, and read some decent reviews online from non-mainstream movie critics (Filmdrunk gave it a B+, for instance). So when we got a date night, I suggested we go check it out.
Not a good movie. There were a few scenes that were likable, and the drones in the film that Tom Cruise’s character is on Earth to repair are pretty cool (Tom Cruise has a pretty cool helicopter-like vehicle, too). But overall the movie is not good at all. Rather than explain why, I am just going to repeat the list of questions that I asked myself after it was over in my attempt to figure it out. The more questions I asked, the worse the movie became.
In no particular order…
- if the aliens have the technology to build enormous universe-traversing spaceships, build and deploy hundreds of enormous factories from that ship that are capable of draining energy from out oceans over the course of decades, and deploy hundreds of nigh-bulletproof drones armed with laser cannons to protect them, why in the hell did they need an army of Tom Cruises (TC) and Emily Riseboroughs (ER)?
- what happened to the other at-least-50 Tom Cruises and at-least-51 Emily Rossboroughs?
- when Tom Cruise 49 went to Tom Cruise 52′s house, why didn’t Emily Riseborough 52 notice the big-ass “49” on TC49′s uniform?
- and why did ER52 not at least ask him what had happened that caused his face to get all beat up?
- why did the aliens put their clone tanks in their mother ship’s hangar bay?
- why did the aliens give the TCs a vehicle capable of space flight, when visiting the mother ship would absolutely give away their ruse?
- why does TC’s helicopter vehicle thing have seating for two since his partner is supposed to absolutely refuse to go to the surface under any circumstances, and he isn’t supposed to encounter anyone on the surface?
- how did Olga Kurylenko (OK) know that the Tet being examined by the Odyssey was the object in Earth orbit, since she was in hibernation when they found it?
- how did Morgan Freeman discover the Odyssey was in orbit above Earth? The entire movie depends on Odyssey returning to Earth, but given the tech available to MF’s rebels it is difficult to imagine that they had any means to detect it.
- and, given that the aliens’ mission involves the extermination of humanity, why would they allow a pod full of humans to remain on orbit around the Earth for six decades?
- if the aliens have zillions of TC clones, why would they give a crap if the drones occasionally kill one/some of them? The drones’ inability to kill TC was the only thing that allowed OK to live, and yet there was absolutely no reason for the drone to choose TC over the human it was sent to kill. OK was an enemy and TC could be replaced in minutes.
- how did TC and ER live in their home for however long they lived there and not know there was a secret drone in their basement?
- why were the secret drones in the basement, which seemingly existed only to exterminate drone repair teams when the need raised, so much bigger and more bad-ass than the drones that were out hunting people?
- when the aliens found the people they knew were the enemy, why did they attack them with only three drones?
- and why did they never deploy any of the heavy assassin drones to do anything other than kill one lady who had never been out of her house?
- the TC and ER clones have had awareness for only around five years or so. They have never had any other human contact. They cannot possibly have any concept of religion. So why would the alien central mind try to appeal to fear of a creator by telling TC “I am your God” before TC destroys the ship? How would TC even know what that means?
- why in the hell, three years later, was TC52 still wearing his Tet uniform and not the same kind of clothes the other human are wearing?
- how did the drones not find, and destroy, Tom Cruises’s cabin? Why was an area of vegetation not in a “radiation zone” so TC49 could find it to begin with?
- why do the clones need think they are on Earth? Why couldn’t the clones just think they are part of an occupying force on an alien world and there for a mission? There really is no reason for the aliens to set the ruse up the way they have. It would’ve been far easier to set up a situation where they wouldn’t have to put so much effort into keeping a secret. Even so, any time a clone discovered the truth it could easily be assassinated and replaced anyway. So, really, the entire central plot point exists only so the aliens can fail.
- how would Morgan Freeman possibly know that the aliens were traveling the universe, destroying planets and then moving on to the next planet? How would he know anything about the aliens at all since his only contact with them has been via TC clones and killer robots?
- who shot the cable TC49 was using to escape from the library, and why would they do that? The fall could have killed him, and they just as easily could have captured him on the surface.
- what was TC49 fighting in the library? They weren’t drones; they couldn’t have possibly been people… So what were they?
- why do the TCs have numbers, anyway? Wouldn’t it be easier to just let the clones think they are alone on the planet, since if the alien plot is to succeed the clones cannot possibly meet anyway? Why even bother with “sure, there are literally dozens of other people down there doing this. But, no, of course you can never meet them.”
I really could go on all night. The more I work on this list the more I think to add to it
The shootout in the library sure was cool though…
I originally wrote this Saturday night, lost my draft in some weird software mishap, then rewrote it yesterday and forgot to post it. So, two days late, my Saturday was pretty good. Just pretend “today” means “Saturday” when you read this. Or something.
Today was a pretty good day – family things together, time with each kid, the works. Today was a pretty good day.
We started by making our way to the third annual indoor garage sale at Sanford Center; Helen loves going to this thing, and I’m a fan of garage sales, so this event is always fun. It’s like a treasure hunt; and there are enough booths there that it’s hard to imagine not finding at least one thing to come home with. We didn’t get much this year, but what we did get was fun.
• A Series 1 Hex from Skylanders. This kid had a bunch of Skylanders in a basket for a dollar, all Series 1 – Helen had them all, but we bought Hex for a buck because she’s cool.
• A Lego Creator mini-plane kit for 50 cents. We already had this kit, but for 50 cents it couldn’t be passed up simply as an addition to the parts pile. Another table had a BARC Speeder for eight bucks; the girls got this kit for me for Christmas a few years back, so I passed on it. I kinda wish I would have offered them five dollars for it, again just to throw the parts into the collection.
• A KRE-O Sentinel Prime) for three bucks. This was a $40 set when it was available at retail, and we only had to raid one part out of our Legos to finish the robot mode. This was a steal. I suspect the parts we are missing are due to Helen opening the box in the car and not because the set was incomplete; it looked like the kid who owned it originally got about halfway through the first build of the alt-mode firetruck and quit on it. The stickers weren’t even all applied yet.
• Helen found a few Pokemon books and was really excited about those.
• I passed on a vintage MPC/Ertl model kit of the Hoth Rebel Base from The Empire Strikes Back. I had the Battle of Hoth companion set to this when I was a kid and remember it being pretty great. I didn’t want to pay the $25 sticker price for it, and wasn’t really in any sort of mood to negotiate a lower price (mostly because I don’t have any idea what I would’ve thought was acceptable – I’d have bought it without hesitation if it would’ve been priced at $10, but the odds of talking the table-holder down that low seemed slim). They go for about $50 on eBay, so maybe I should’ve just picked it up.
• Millie found, and was completely enamored by, a Hoberman sphere, so we picked that up for a dollar. She spent most of the afternoon starting with the sphere fully extended and saying “big,” then collapsing it a bit and saying “medium,” then fully collapsing it and saying “small” before giggling herself into a lather and repeating the process.
• Mel found a Fendi scarf and some books.
Bemidji High School fundraiser dinner prep
After the garage sale, we went and spent about 90 minutes helping get food ready for Bemidji High School’s fundraiser fish fry that will be held tomorrow night. We were on carrot duty; we probably peeled 12-15 pounds of carrots, and for awhile Mel was on chopping duty. Good stuff. Helen was an awesome helper, and Millie even helped for a bit too – although she ultimately probably stole more carrots than she peeled.
After that, Helen went swimming with a friend and Mel wanted to clean the house, so I took Millie to McDonald’s to play. After that we went to Home Depot and picked up some tool organizers for the Legos in the basement and she wanted to go look at books at Target, so we did that too. In total we were out for maybe two and a half hours.
Later in the evening, Helen and I worked on the Lego Chamber of Secrets from 2002, from the huge pile of Legos my parents found at the garage sale in Kansas a few years back and brought up for us. Making really good progress, but running into missing-part issues; I’m making a list and am hopeful that most of what we are missing can be acquired from Lego’s Pick a Brick site. We’re missing one of the tower walls, and those aren’t on Pick a Brick and are pretty expensive when they show up on eBay. I’ll keep looking…
Melissa went to the gym this morning, so I had some kid time out in town. We went to Rafael’s for donuts, which is always fun, and then went to return the lights we bought for the kitchen at Menard’s. They had restocked their swing-arm magnifier lights for craft tables, which I’ve wanted for a long time but have never pulled the trigger on; empowered with birthday cash from my parents (thanks, parents!) I finally picked one up. It’s not perfect — but for $40 I wasn’t really expecting perfect — but it should provide a significantly better lighting situation at the drawing table in my office. Better to the point that I might actually use the drawing table.
I like the track lights I installed in here quite a bit, but they’re seriously useless for providing lighting to work, and the six-dollar desk lamp I bought from Target to provide a close-up way to fill in the shadows I was getting from the overhead lights was barely functional.
I want to try this setup out this weekend sometime; I’m so, so, so far behind on my postcard project, and it would be really fun in May between the end of the semester and the start of summer school / getting Megan up here to get caught up on that and churn a bunch of these out for my friends. They’ve been waiting long enough…
What I’m Listening To
I started a Daft Punk station on Pandora this morning on my phone, and I’m not gonna lie it’s pretty great. I’ve never listened to much electronic music at all (really, my only experience with it has been Daft Punk’s work on the TRON: Legacy soundtrack and the tremendously great Deadmau5 concert on Netflix), but it’s proving to be excellent background music while I’m trying to get some stuff done in my office today.
What I’m Shopping For
Just for fun, I have been pricing out a wide variety of laptops at Apple’s online store — five different laptops ranging from a 13-inch Air to a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, ranging in price from $1,400 to $2,280. I’d really like to have an Air just for the insane portability (but I wonder if most of what I could do with an Air I could also do with an iPad and a quality keyboard case), but the 13-inch MacBook Pro is pretty compelling at only $1,400. I would totally love to have a tricked-out 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, though — 16 gigs of RAM, etc. Big difference between the compelling 13-inch Pro and the $2,280 I’d drop on the 15-inch Retina Pro I specced out… Ah, well. It’s only window shopping at this point!
Toys can be an important merchandising tie-in for summer’s blockbuster Hollywood movies, and this summer’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation is no different. As it is based on characters which appear in Hasbro’s G.I. Joe toy line, which made its debut in its current format in 1982, toys are a focal point of the merchandising for this film.
The movie features 11 main characters — seven heroes on the G.I. Joe team and four members of their adversaries in the evil terrorist organization known as Cobra. Each of those 11 characters are represented in action figure form in the merchandising for this summer’s film. However, given that the history of G.I. Joe now dates back more than 30 years, those interested in pursuing toys of these characters might also be interested in digging into the deep and often varied stories of these characters as they have appeared in toy form throughout the decades.
Some of the characters in Retaliation have been mainstays of the G.I. Joe universe for the entire life of the property, and collecting each of their appearance in toy form will require chasing down more than five dozen different toys. Others have been rather infrequently immortalized in plastic, with as few as three different toys made of the character.
In total, pursuing every toy made of the 11 primary characters in G.I. Joe: Retaliation would lead to a collection of more than 320 action figures. Here’s a breakdown of the number of times each of the film’s 11 primary characters have shown up as toys in the last three-plus decades.
Cobra Commander is supreme leader of the terrorist organization which contains the villains in Retaliation. Hidden behind a helmet for the majority of the film, Cobra Commander is played by Luke Bracey. The Commander was one of three villains released in the very first series of G.I. Joe figures in 1982. Since then, he has appeared in action figure form 51 different times, including three times in the line of toys to support the film. However, none of the three film-line toys represents how the character appeared on screen.
Duke is the field commander of the G.I. Joe team, played (briefly) in the film by Channing Tatum. Duke first appeared in the second series of G.I. Joe figures in 1983, and has since appeared as 48 different action figures. He has one figure in the toy line to support Retaliation, but it does not represent how he appeared on screen.
Firefly is Cobra’s saboteur and demolitions specialist, and the character was played by
Ray Stevenson in Retaliation. Firefly has been represented as an action figure 26 times since the character first appeared in the third series of G.I. Joe figures in 1984, including three times in the line of toys to support the film.
Flint is a warrant officer on the G.I. Joe team, played in the film by DJ Cotrona. The character first appeared in the fourth series of G.I. Joe toys in 1985, and since then he has appeared as an action figure 20 times. He has two toys in the series supporting the Retaliation film.
General Joseph Colton
Joe Colton is the original G.I. Joe, the man from whom the team of heroes takes its name. However, he did not appear in toy form until the 13th series of G.I. Joe figures in 1994. The character is played by Bruce Willis in the film, and in total he has been represented in toy form only three times. He has one figure in the toy series supporting the film.
Jinx is a ninja affiliated with the G.I. Joe team, and the character first appeared in 1987. Played in the film by Elodie Young, the character has appeared in toy form six times under three different names — Jinx, Agent Jinx and Kim Arashikage.
Lady Jaye first appeared as a character in 1985 and is one of only a handful of female members of the G.I. Joe team. The character has been represented in toy form nine times, and was played in the film by Adrianne Palicki.
Roadblock appeared for the first time in 1983 as part of the third series of G.I. Joe toys. The main character in the Retaliation film, Roadblock was played by Duane “The Rock” Johnson. There have been 23 different versions of the Roadblock character over the years, with three in the toy line supporting the film as of this writing.
Snake Eyes is one of the 12 original G.I. Joe figures released in 1982, and has appeared in more incarnations than any other character in this property. The ninja commando, who cannot speak, was played in the film by Ray Park. Since making his first appearance, there have been 66 different Snake Eyes action figures released — including a total of six in the toy line supporting the Retaliation film.
Storm Shadow is Cobra’s ninja assassin; the character made his debut in the third series of G.I. Joe toys in 1984. Played in the film by Byun-hun Lee, Storm Shadow has appeared in toy form a total of 47 times, including three times in the toy line supporting the film.
Zartan is a master of disguise and was played by Jonathan Pryce in the film. Zartan first appeared in the third series of G.I. Joe figures in 1984, and has appeared as an action figure a total of 21 times. He has one figure in the toy line supporting the Retaliation film, but the figure does not represent how the character appeared on screen.
Interested in learning more about the hundreds of characters and thousands of action figures that make up the G.I. Joe toy line? Visit YoJoe.com, the most complete fan-maintained encyclopedia of G.I. Joe collectables on the Internet and start your own collection today.
What I’m Reading
I’m looking over the list of the dozen or so rules changes passed at last week’s NCAA Convention in Texas, and some of them are interesting.
Two of them directly impact athletic media relations, a subject near and dear to my heart:
- 13-5-A, which will eliminate restrictions on sending printed recruiting materials to recruits. Conferences still will be prohibited from sending printed recruiting materials.
- 13-7, which will eliminate restrictions on publicity once a prospective student-athlete has signed a National Letter of Intent or written offer of financial aid or admission.
In the past, the restriction on sending printed recruiting materials to recruits in many instances precluded those materials from being produced altogether. Whether this trend will reverse itself given the advances in the quality of material being made available online; this will be interesting to watch.
The 13-7 change means it’s open season for coverage of recruits once they’ve signed NLIs; this will lead to some interesting (and potentially time-consuming) new activities for media relations offices to promote student athletes before they have even arrived on campus.
There are a few other bylaws pertaining to travel and a student-athlete’s expenses that at first blush seem to lend themselves to some interesting interpretations and, perhaps, some creative ways for schools to fund travel. It’s going to be interesting to see how all of this plays out once the rules take effect in August.
What I’m Watching
The new Kevin Bacon show on FOX, “The Following,” started tonight; right now Mel and I are about 20 minutes into the premier, and so far it’s very good. Mel already has busted the writers for making an English mistake in a show about a serial killer whose crimes revolve around Edgar Allen Poe. But, not even halfway through this first episode and we’re in.
What I’m Reading
I’ve got two books I’m reading through right now; making decent progress on them — one is Making Ideas Happen, which I’ve been plugging away at for awhile now, and the second is Quiet, which I still haven’t gotten into a groove with. It’s interesting to be reading both of them simultaneously, since they’re both approaching things from slightly opposite directions. There are a lot of things in Making that I’m trying to take to heart as I plan for the future; I’ve enjoyed this book quite a bit so far, and I’m a little disappointed it took so long for me to get into it after I bought it (which at this point was well over a year ago).
Bad Week for Sports
Mantei Te’o… Lance Armstrong… Ray Lewis in the Super Bowl… Not a great week for sports.
What I’m Reading
This current project I’m on started a long time ago; I saw this cheat-sheet for Jason Fried’s book Rework back in 2010, and shortly thereafter I bought the book from the iBookstore. It took me awhile to get around to reading it, but it was a worldview-changing experience once I finally sat down to spend some time with it. I plowed through it in an evening, and I really need to read it again.
After I finished it, I bought Making Ideas Happen from Scott Belsky, behind 99 Percent, Behance and The Action Method. It quickly became one of the zillion books that I read the introduction of and then laid aside. I picked it up again late last week and started it from the beginning, and have made it about a third of the way through the book. It’s very similar in philosophy to the meetings-are-poison mindset of Rework, but focuses on specific tactics and strategies for organizing and executing projects. So far it’s been an enlightening read; it’s not quite the “everything you’re doing is destructive and wrong, and here’s why you should blow it up and start over” hammer to the heart that Rework was, but it’s an equally enthusiastic call to challenge the status quo.
Both books are written from perspective that is intended to support people interested in launching tech startups, but the more I read about the mindset behind successful startups the more I see a significant number of things that could be pulled out and adapted to a great number of other enterprises. When you combine this mentality – laser-focus on productivity and leading effective teams – with that of winning customers by focusing on building experience – like in the video I posted yesterday – and you’ve got a toolkit that could be adapted to a broad variety of enterprises or organizations beyond tech startups.
Once I get through Making Ideas Happen, I think my next target will be Jacob Morgan’s The Collaborative Organization. I’ve read the sample from iBookstore, and from just that 20-something page snippet it seemed clear that it was cut from a similar cloth to these other two books – only placing focus on specific strategies for using technological tools to work with people and solve problems.
Lots to learn.