Friday, June 17, 2011

Little Things Mean a Lot

I'm not sure if I'm old enough to be a Curmudgeon yet, but I enjoy practicing. I have full plans to continue on to Geezer, but I haven't decided if from there I want to go on to Cranky Old Man or Crazy Old Coot. I'm hoping I still have a year or two before I have to make that choice.

So my rant today is about the use of turn signals. Or, more accurately, the lack thereof. It's such a simple, small thing, and yet it infuriates me. It bothers me because it is deliberate. You know you are going to change lanes. You know you are going to make a turn. These are decisions you have made. Then you decided not to signal. Why isn't it automatically part of the action?

It's not as though it's a difficult maneuver. It takes less effort than changing the station on the radio. It's so simple. You can keep your hand closed around the steering wheel and just extend your middle finger to flick a little lever. As a friendly reminder, I often show this to people on the road as I pass them by.

I had a co-worker once say to me, "Signalling is a sign of weakness." Just as in war or poker, you never want to tip your hand and give your opponent an edge. I can almost understand how on our crazy Houston highways, an Offensive Driving stance might seem a viable option. Only the strong survive.

But if we're going to adopt that attitude, I want my paint gun. Gallagher had a bit about a gun that shot suction-cup "Stupid" flags at other cars. After half a dozen or so had accumulated, "the cops could pull you over just for being an asshole." Great idea! But those suction cups are so unreliable, especially when I'm trying to text about how great the burger I'm having is while going 80 miles per hour through a school zone. No, I need something simpler. Paint guns. Faster, more accurate, more shots, easier to reload, and the added bonus of potentially painting the driver. "Thanks for cutting me off, jerk!" poff, poff, poff.

If it really caught on, maybe we could adapt outside of the driving environment. "Hey lady, the express lane says '10 Items or Less'!" poff, poff, poff. Oh yeah. I really think I'm onto something now.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ape-ril Ape-recap, with Ape-ricots!

Whew! I did it. I survived watching all the Planet of the Apes movies back to hairy back. It was a task I wouldn't recommend to anyone, really, but I did have a fair amount of fun with it. Still, I'm glad it's over. And no, there is no way I am going to watch either the TV series or the animated series.

So what did I gain from this experience? What did I learn? Not a whole lot, really. I learned that even bad sci-fi from the '70's can be better than the bad sci-fantasy we have these days. I learned that George Lucas did not invent the bad, nonsensical, series-ruining prequel.

I gained a lot of respect for Roddy McDowall as an actor. Yes, these are silly roles in cheesy movies, but he put real effort into each film he was in. Underneath all of that make-up, facial expressions were pretty much non-existent. So he improvised. He worked his nose to make the Ape-nose appear to be sniffing; exaggerated his eyebrow movement to get some action in the prosthetic forehead; blew out air to "puff out" the mouthpieces in anger. He clearly experimented with finding new ways to emote from behind that mask, and I really admired the work that took.

I also learned, just after beginning my marathon, that there is yet another Planet of the Apes movie coming out. I discovered this on my own by accident, but it was also brought to my attention by several friends through email and Facebook. It's called Rise of the Planet of the Apes and stars James Franco (!?). I admit, the trailer does look interesting. Clearly, it won't tie in to any of the "official" movies or timeline, but they did name the head Ape "Caesar," which is a nice touch.

Here's the link to the trailer, since when I embed video it doesn't normally follow when this post gets re-posted on Facebook: Apes Will Rise.

Planet of the Apes

Three-letter word review: Yes!
One sentence summary: Astronaut Taylor crashes on an alien world where Apes are dominant and men are barbaric, mute animals.
Strange '60's quote/reference: Taylor: "That's right, Lucius. Never trust anyone over 30."
Watchability: High. I would even rate this one a must-see. But if you're with kids or even adults who haven't seen it, do your best to hide the DVD case and the surprise ending.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Three-letter word review: Wow.
One sentence summary: Is it possible? Astronaut Brent searches for Taylor, crashes on an alien world where Apes are dominant, and finds him in an underground New York in the Forbidden Zone where telepathic mutant humans worship an atomic bomb.
Strange '70's quote/reference: Ursus: "The only good human... is a dead human."
Watchability: Strange. It's not really bad so much as it is a mess. There's a lot going on here, so for just plain craziness I would actually recommend it.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes

Three-letter word review: Hmm.
One sentence summary: Ape-ronauts (yes, they actually call them that in the film) Cornelus & Zira flee their planet in Taylor's crashed ship, only to crash themselves on Earth in the 1970's.
Strange '70's quote/reference: Dr. Zira: "A marriage bed is made for two. But every damn morning, it's the woman who has to make it. We have heads as well as hands. I call upon men to let us use them!"
Watchability: Medium. The first half is quite silly and strange, but it becomes rather dramatic by the end.

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

Three-letter word review: Grr.
One sentence summary: Caesar, Ape-child of Cornelius & Zira, grows up in a world of Ape slavery and eventually leads a revolution.
Strange '70's quote/reference: Woman smoking cigarette: "Funny, now that I know these things won't kill me, I don't enjoy them."
Watchability: Low. The plot is very thin and the outcome pre-determined. Why bother?

Battle for the Planet of the Apes

Three-letter word review: Ugh.
One sentence summary: Ape leader Caesar leads a group of Apes and humans after a global apocalypse, only to be attacked by irradiated human holdouts.
Strange '70's quote/reference: I'm sure there was one, but I can't remember.
Watchability: Very low. Don't waste your time. Seriously.

Planet of the Apes (2001)

Three-letter word review: Boo!
One sentence summary: Astronaut Davidson crashes on an alien world where Apes are dominant and men are their barbaric-ish slaves.
Strange '60's quote/reference: Attar: "Take your stinking hands off me, you damn dirty human!"
Watchability: Unbearable.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Planet of the Apes (2001)


I hated this movie when I was dragged to see it in the theater, and I really didn't want to revisit the experience. However, I am a bit of a completist, so here is Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes.

What kind of movie is this? Tim Burton claimed it was a "re-imagining," not a remake. That's good, I guess, since it gives us a little more distance from the original. Really, it's a testament to what happened to science fiction in the 30+ years between the two. It's more visual than cerebral, and it's more fighty than thinky. Basically, the original lamented the destruction and devolution of mankind, while the remake celebrated it.

We begin on a space station orbiting a planet with rings. Saturn, maybe? Not important. Look, pretty! The year is 2029 (which is pretty optimistic, even in 2001). Our hero, Leo Davidson, trains chimpanzees to fly spacecraft. Why they don't just use computers or remote pilots is never explained. Although they do claim that the monkey is sort of an early warning system, like a canary in a coal mine. So basically, they're spending a lot of money to train apes to fly expensive spacecraft on doomed missions into unknown phenomena. Okay. Hee hee! Look, a monkey in a spacesuit!

Conveniently, an unknown phenomenon appears not far from the station. And it's early enough in the movie that we don't have time to reflect on the nonsense we've heard so far. They send a chimpanzee to investigate the scary space storm, and he goes missing. Leo jumps into another craft and chases after him, and he goes missing as well. A few flashes of light, and suddenly Leo crash lands on some distant alien planet (which has between two and four moons, depending on when you look at it).

Almost immediately, he's swept up in the rush of humans fleeing Apes. These Apes are not hunting for sport, but rather capturing slaves. And the humans are not mute; they speak rather well, actually, especially considering their preference for loincloths. But no time to think about that now; look at the cool Ape make-up!

Leo is captured. Leo befriends Ari, an Ape who supports human rights. Leo escapes, brings some human and Ape friends. He's chased by the bad guys: Thade, the military leader Ape who hates humans and seems to have a secret, and Attar, the military second-in-command who hates humans and doesn't have a secret.

Leo makes it back to his crashed spaceship and retrieves a homing signal and a handgun, two things no space traveler should ever be without. The homing signal tells him that his space station has come to find him, so he's just got to follow the signal to reach it. Of course, it's in the Forbidden Zone, and Attar has an army blocking the way.

They make it past the army and discover the space station: crashed! And old! And isn't it weird how it has decayed to look like the spikes on the crown of the Statue of Liberty? Yep, it turns out that all of these Apes are descended from the monkeys he used to train on the station, which somehow crashed on this same planet thousands of years before. What a drag. But hey, at least the power still works. Science! It's fun!

There's a fight or something. Attar's Ape army attacks, adamantly. Apes and humans fight and die. Suddenly, a space craft appears. It's the chimpanzee Leo chased after at the beginning! This plus the crashed space station is a revelation to all except Thade, who knew it all along. Attar doesn't like that, so they fight and he kills him. Humans and Apes will play nice together now! "Welp," says Leo, "My work here is done. Time to be headin' home." He hops into the newly arrived spaceship and does just that. Science! It's convenient!

Just one quick hop into the scary space storm, and Leo is heading to good ole' Earth. He makes radio contact, but is forced to crash land on the Washington Mall. He exits his little pod on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as police arrive. He climbs the steps, looks up, and... OMIGOSH! It's not Lincoln! It's Thade! He turns around to see all the police are also Apes, pointing their guns at him. Roll credits. What a twist!

Of course, that twist is completely out of line with everything that happened in the movie. It's as if at the end of Titanic the deep sea divers discovered that the iceberg was actually artificial and piloted by cyborgs. But who cares? Gotcha!

This was just awful on so many levels, I don't even want to talk/write about it. It had boring and predictable allusions to the first film, but more for camp than out of respect. Actually, it had little references to pretty much all of the first five films, but none of them are worth calling attention to here. The Ape make-up was good, I'll give it that. Well, except for Helena Bonham-Carter. She looked like a cross between Michael Jackson and a gelfling. Why don't I just end this with that disturbing image.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Battle for the Planet of the Apes


When we left our Ape friends in Conquest, they had just revolted against their human masters. Caesar was the leader of this new race of Apes, and the course of the future seemed set. But again, to unnecessarily fill in that gap, Hollywood brought us Battle for the Planet of the Apes.

The movie is book-ended with scenes of John Huston (!?) as the Lawgiver, the prophet of the Apes (now *that* would be a great movie title), teaching children their past. The opening title tells us it is "North America, 2970," which is approximately 1,000 years since Cornelius & Zira came to Earth. This scene is very brief, and just leads us into the tale of Caesar and the Apes after the revolution.

We're not given the exact date, but based on the age of Caesar's son, Cornelius, I would guess it is anywhere from 10 to 15 years since the revolution. The Apes live in a primitive village of treehouses away from the cities, which were apparently destroyed by humans in a nuclear war. They kind of gloss over the details, but the city is now a twisted heap of metal, and human civilization is close to non-existent.

Caesar's goal is for Apes and humans to co-exist peacefully. Unfortunately, a new general, Aldo, doesn't share that dream. They both seem to have no problem enslaving humans, however.

Caesar leads an expedition into the devastated city to access the archives. He wants to view recordings of his parents, so he can finally get to know them. While there, they attract the attention of the few remaining humans still living in the underground of the city. They are irradiated badly, and I assume they are the progenitors of the mutants we see in Beneath.

The city humans decide to attack the country Apes, and while Caesar was gone General Aldo convinced the country Apes to attack all humans. Caesar's son overhears Aldo's plot to take over and is attacked. Eventually he dies, and Caesar takes out his rage first on the attacking humans, and then on the Ape responsible.

The "battle" scene is pretty awful. It lasts for about 30 minutes, but this is no epic war production. Seriously, it looked like a bunch of LARPers out in a park on a Saturday afternoon. I had that exact thought while watching it, and then I later learned in the trivia on IMDb that indeed, that location became Malibu State Park.

Eventually, the Apes win. Ceasar causes the death of Aldo, and all is right with the world. We return to the Lawgiver finishing his lecture. As the camera pans to his audience, we see it is comprised of both Apes and humans, living in harmony. We continue the pan to a statue of Caesar. With a close-up on his stone face, we see a single tear form, then roll credits with funky music. No dramatic fade to black with eerie sound effects fading to silence for this film.

This chapter was a complete waste of time and my least favorite of the series. It had a weak premise going in, just because it was a story that didn't need to be told. In addition, the script was lame, there were almost no interesting ideas, and it just ended up being very bland.

I will give them some credit for the ending and the double-meaning of the title, similar to Escape. The obvious reference is to the physical battle between the Apes and the city under-dwelling humans to see who will rule the state park world. But the other reference is to Caesar's desire to change the future, so that Ape and man can live in peace.

It's a theme that is brought up in several of the sequels: can we change the future? The coda at the end of the movie suggests that Caesar was successful, and that humans and Apes are co-existing with neither in a position of power. This is significant because it means that the Apes saga managed to dodge what would otherwise be a giant, five movie, time paradox causality loop.

-Taylor leaves Earth, goes to future, finds Apearth.
-Taylor discovers atomic bomb, destroys Apearth.
-Cornelius & Zira escape Apearth, go to past.
-In the past, Cornelius & Zira have Milo/Caesar.
-Caesar grows up, leads Ape revolution.
And right here, we could go straight into the original film. It would all fit, yet somehow the future Apes have caused their own existence through Caesar. Instead, Battle steps in and alters that future, so that Caesar actually prevents it from coming to pass.

In both Escape and Battle, different characters talk about the nature of time, using the same metaphor. They describe time as a wide highway with many lanes. Even though the highway is all going the same direction, each lane leads to a different destination. The question posed is: is it possible to change lanes? It's kind of a weird metaphor, but I will give the writers credit for sticking to it for the last three films.

Technically, I should be done with my Ape-ril Madness Marathon, but I decided to go ahead and watch Tim Burton's remake. So, one more review to go before my series recap.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes


The end of Escape from PotA was the kind of great ending that can never be left alone. It was an open ending, with the child of Cornelius & Zira living in secrecy, but we the audience could use our imaginations to fill in the gaps from that innocent child to the planet of Apes that Taylor arrives on. Of course, there's nothing Hollywood hates more than for an audience to use its imagination, and so we have Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

The movie starts by jumping right in. There's no opening sequence, unlike the other films (I've since learned it was edited out to receive a lesser rating), we just start with Apes. There's a title card telling us "North America, 1991" and then the credits roll.

In this "future" 1991, Apes are domesticated pets. Well, actually, they're slaves. They started out as pets in 1983 when a terrible virus wiped out all cats and dogs. People needed companions, so they turned to apes. As they became more domesticated (and perhaps as a side-effect of surviving the virus), they grew in size and intelligence until they resemble what the audience recognizes as capital-A Apes. Except they still can't talk.

During these opening credits, we see hundreds of Apes being herded, trained, and domesticated. Some are already serving as assistants, janitors, and waiters. It's pretty intense. Amusingly, they even have human protesters who protest not the enslavement of apes, but the loss of their waitstaff and janitorial jobs.

Fortunately, the masks are much better looking than the ones seen in Beneath, though the really good make-up is saved for the characters with close-ups. They organize the Apes by species into colored uniforms: red for gorilla, yellow for orangutan, and green for chimpanzee. That's a nice little touch that ties it into the future classes and colorings of the original film.

Another thing about the future: everyone wears black and the architecture is smooth, angular concrete without any ornamentation. This is just and FYI, in case you need to blend in, in the year 1991.

After we're shown what the world has become, we're re-introduced to our heroes. Armando (Ricardo Montalban!) the circus owner tours the city with Milo, who is all grown up (and played by Roddy McDowell- Cornelius from the previous films). Only now his name is Caesar, not Milo. I guess it sounded better. There's a scene where he gets to pick his name out of a dictionary, so I thought maybe he chose to change it. But no, Armando clearly calls him Caesar in the early scenes. Oh well. Continuity has never been a high priority for these films.

Caesar is the only Ape who can talk, of course, so he must hide. Armando is captured by the bad guy of the film, Governor Breck. Breck seems to be evil just to be evil. He immediately suspects Armando of having a talking Ape, and tortures him to find it. His motivation isn't as clear as Hasslein's from the previous film. He talks about how he fears an Ape uprising, but it seems to me that would be inevitable. The way he treats Apes, they don't need Caesar to be angry.

Meanwhile, Caesar hides among the incoming Ape shipment, and so we get a thorough education of how badly Apes are treated. Slavery is cruel and evil. Got it.

Eventually, Caesar starts to organize the Apes, although this is never really explained. He goes to various places, hides in the shadows, then gives a fellow Ape "the look." Somehow, they all know what that means. They steal cutlery from the kitchen, steak knives when polishing, butane torches when welding beams. Eventually, they feel the time is right to riot.

The riot scenes are pretty frightening. At night, hundreds of angry Apes in red jumpsuits do not exactly put one at ease. The military is called, but there are just too many of them. They swarm the squads, take the base, and capture the governor. Caesar gives a rousing speech about how the humans will pay for the debasement of the Apes. He claims that Apes can communicate over vast distances, and that tomorrow this riotous scene will be duplicated around the world. Standing tall, leading his fellow Apes against a backdrop of burning buildings against the night sky, Caesar gives the order to destroy Governor Breck, and the gorillas use their guns to beat him to death. The end. Fade to black.

Or not. That ending seemed too pessimistic, and might have also given it a more restrictive rating, so they tacked on a few more minutes. At the very moment I describe above where it should have ended, a female chimpanzee struggles to utter the word, "No." Caesar hears it and changes his mind. He appends his speech with an extra paragraph about how instead, the Apes will be more "humane" than the humans. Rather than shoot new footage, they use close-ups of his eyes, and roll the film backwards to show the gorillas withdrawing their rifle butts. All the Apes still go crazy, the buildings still burn in the night, and the fade to black is accompanied by their screams as the credits roll until they fade to silence.

The one, three-letter word I've been using to start all these reviews is very appropriate here. Not only is this the most angry and aggressive of the Ape movies I've seen so far, but that's exactly how I feel about the edits. I realize that most people don't take the Ape movies seriously, but it would be nice if the filmmakers did. This movie is pretty one-note, talking about the horrors of slavery. Why soften it? The Apes are abused and oppressed, but when they get their just revolution, their violence is restricted. That double-standard bothered me.

I thought the movie was okay, but it didn't try to be very much. As I said at the beginning, it's just filling in the gaps our imaginations had already filled. There were no twists or reversals or reveals. Everything went along pretty much as we knew it would, so therefore it wasn't very surprising. But that doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't entertaining. It could have been much better if it had stuck to its ideals and been horrific not just for the slaves, but also the overturned masters.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Escape from the Planet of the Apes


After the last movie ended with everyone being wiped out by a nuclear bomb, I wasn't sure how they could make a sequel. After having seen it, I'm not even sure if it is. In many ways, Escape from the Planet of the Apes is actually a prequel.

The movie begins with a spaceship crashed in the ocean. For a minute you think, "Oh great. They sent yet another rescue mission." But as the helicopters circle and the military arrives on the beach, you see that they are all human. They are surprised to see the ship, but not alarmed, as they assume it is one of the two they sent up. After it is pulled to shore and the astronauts removed, they open their helmets to reveal-- Apes! Roll title and opening credits.

I kinda liked this opening for a number of reasons. It got the big reveal/reversal out of the way immediately instead of dragging it out; it gave the apes a chance to see their world from a different view; and most importantly, it drastically reduced the budget since they only had to bother with three ape costumes. I always appreciate creative ways to stay in budget (if done well).

Now, the science that got them there, well, that's some really bogus creative screenwriting. Apparently, coinciding with the events of the second movie, the Apes recovered Taylor's sunken ship, repaired it, and flew it into orbit. While up there, they witnessed the atomic blast which destroyed the Apearth, and somehow sent them back in time. There are just so many things wrong with that story, not least being the fact that the Apes in both previous movies were at a pre-industrial technology level. But, if I learned anything from the last movie, it was that you have to let go of the science to enjoy the movie.

But I do want to put in a note about the chronology, which is also totally messed up. In PotA, Taylor's ship was launched in 1979 (10 years in the future from when the film was made). He crashed on Apearth 2,000 years in the future. However, when the Apes go back, they land in 1973 (approximately current to when the film was made). So technically, they arrived before Taylor left. However, everyone in the film acts as if Taylor left several years before. I admit this is a minor nit to pick, but it bothered me. Most likely it was a budgetary decision-- they couldn't afford to dress up L.A. to look like it was 10 years in the future.

Anyway, back to the story. The three apes are our old friends Cornelius and Zira, plus Milo who dies rather quickly. For a while they hide their ability to speak, which provides some cute reversals of their treatment of Taylor in PotA. Thankfully, this doesn't last too long, and our heroes befriend their scientist captors. Here's where the movie gets weird.

There's a scene where the Apes are put before a tribunal of some sort. I don't really know why. No one seems astounded by the fact that these are Apes from space, or Apes from the future; they're just stuck on them being talking apes. Maybe the writers had aspirations for drama or philosophy here, but they abandoned them. The Apes get in some good one-liners, and suddenly the movie turns into a wacky, fish-out-of-water story.

The Apes become minor celebrities. They're put up in a fancy hotel and taken shopping while groovy music plays. Cornelius gets a tailored suit while Zira has models fashion outfits for her. Zira even goes to some sort of Women's Lib meeting! Ah, the '70's.

Inevitably, things turn sour. Dr. Hasslein, an excessively distrustful scientist, discovers that they are from our future. He comes to the conclusion that by coming back to the past, they are the ones who create the future, and therefore must be sterilized before they can breed. Tragically, Zira is already pregnant. Suddenly, the movie turns rather dark.

The last 30 minutes of the movie are surprisingly good and suspenseful. Our Ape heroes must flee Hasslein and the evil government men. With the aid of the good scientists, they make friends with a circus owner, Armando (Ricardo Montalban!). Zira gives birth to her baby, very near to a circus chimpanzee who has also recently given birth.

The Ape-hunt is relentless, however, and they must flee this temporary sanctuary. They hide out in an abandoned shipyard (cheap location shooting, I guess) until cornered by the bad guys. Hasslein finds Zira and shoots her in the back. She drops her baby, which he then shoots repeatedly. Cornelius shoots and kills him, but not before he is also shot and takes a bad fall. Zira throws her own dead baby into the water before collapsing beside Cornelius. A helicopter shot pulls away, Cornelius and Zira huddling, prone and bleeding, Hasslein and baby floating face-down in the water. The end?

No. We switch to a scene of Armando's circus being broken down in order to move on to the next town. We see the mother chimpanzee holding her baby, only (you guessed it) it is actually Zira's baby, Milo. The camera zooms in on the baby as it looks up to his mother and says, "Mama, Mama" over and over. Fade to black, roll credits.

A pretty intense ending, especially for a movie that seemed light-hearted for most of it. Something I should compliment all of the Apes movie on (so far) is the dramatic ending, and I don't mean the shocking reversal. In PotA, after Taylor finds the Stature of Liberty, the screen fades to black but the sound of the surf goes on. No music, just sound during the credits. In Beneath PotA, after Taylor sets off the bomb, the screen goes white. No sound, just credits. Here, it's the same effect: the haunting repetition of "Mama" over a black screen, then fading to silence as the credits roll. Good stuff.

I also like the title of this movie. Going in, I thought maybe a third crew of astronauts found their way to Apearth and the movie would be about them getting away. Instead, it appears to be about the Apes' escape from their doomed planet, which actually happens before the movie even starts. But really, the title refers to Hasslein, the mean scientist. He does everything in his power to try to prevent Apearth from ever happening. There's even a philosophical discussion he has with the President of the United States about this very thing. Sure, we would want to kill Hitler, but would you be able to kill Hitler as a baby? Would you kill his mother before he was born? (Terminator, anyone?) From that perspective, you can understand why Hasslein sees himself as a hero, not a villain.

One more quick aside, I really was impressed by this movie's portrayal of the president as a calm, rational human being. So often in movies of this period (and beyond), the president is over the top gung-ho about something, usually war or patriotism. Here, he's one of the most reasonable people in the film.

Halfway into this film, I was dreading watching the next two. By the end, I could hardly wait.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Beneath the Planet of the Apes


I complimented the first Apes movie for being full of ideas that could make for interesting conversation afterward. Beneath the Planet of the Apes is also crammed with ideas, but nearly all of them make you say, "What?" Seriously, this whole movie is a steaming pile of WTF.

Even though I maligned the world and studios for making the ending of the first movie known to all, from here on out expect spoilers in my comments about the sequels. Partly, that's because the biggest cat is already out of the bag, but also it's because I'm watching these movies so you don't have to.

The movie begins with a shortened edit of the final minutes of the previous film. Just in case anyone forgot how that one ended, I suppose. After following Taylor and Nova into the wastes very briefly, we're taken to yet another crashed spaceship, and introduced to the real protagonist-- Brent. He's played by James Franciscus, and seems to have been cast mainly because he looks a lot like Charlton Heston.

Of course, right off the bat this doesn't make any sense. He claims that he followed the previous ship's trajectory and was on a rescue mission. But that's just crazy. At the beginning of PotA1, Taylor was recording his last message and saying knew it didn't matter since they were already 700 years in the future. That was kind of the point of the mission. Already we're off to a bad start.

Brent meets Nova, and we get some flashback scenes of Taylor encountering mysterious things in the Forbidden Zone, before disappearing. So, Brent and Nova have to go back to Ape City to get help from Zira and try to find Taylor. I mention this part of the plot not because it's important, but because it's so ridiculous. The script works so hard to incorporate Brent into this world. Why not just skip all of that and have Franciscus take over the role as Taylor? They wasted the first third of the movie reestablishing things we already know.

Anyway, there's a new ape in town; his name is Ursus. He's a militant gorilla leader, and he's decided that they need to invade the Forbidden Zone before this unknown enemy invades them. This could have been interesting if it had been done with any subtlety like the first movie.

This is probably as good a time as any to talk about the budget, or lack thereof. In the crowd scenes of apes, many (if not most) are wearing obviously cheap rubber ape masks. It's pretty distracting. The main ape character still have the full make-up, at least. But then we get a sauna scene between Ursus and Dr. Zaius. Really? Seeing an ape in strange clothing riding a horse or wielding a gun can be pretty disturbing. Seeing two guys in ape suits taking a steam bath is laughable.

I read two interesting facts about the budget for Beneath: first, it was cut in half midway into the production, and second, because of it's tiny budget, this is actually the most profitable of the ape movies. Shocking.

It bothers me to think about how much different the movie could have been if they had taken a different attitude. As much as I liked seeing Heston again, it's really just a glorified cameo. Why not just replace him? That would free up a lot of cash, and also allow you to jump right into the story. Oh yeah, the story. Let me get back to that.

So, Brent and Nova find an underground cave that links up to the old New York subway system. In huge underground caverns they find the remains of many of the famed NY landmarks: the library, the stock exchange, Radio City Music Hall, and the Rockefeller Center, apparently all within about a block of each other. Convenient.

They find a sophisticated group of humans living underground. At first, they don't talk either, but instead communicate telepathically. After a while, they consent to speak, mainly so the audience can better follow the conversations. Their mental powers give them the power to create illusions, which they use to scare the apes out of the Forbidden Zone. However, this time it doesn't work and now they're worried. They hang out in a big church and worship the "Bringer of Peace," which turns out to be a giant nuclear bomb with the Greek letters Alpha and Omega written on the wing. Get it? And as if that isn't shocking enough, they then "show their true faces" by removing their masks. It turns out, all the humans are just irradiated mutants wearing human masks. I'll give them credit for an interesting twist on the whole ape mask thing.

Anyway, they're holding Taylor, so Brent and Nova get put in jail with him. Then they use their mental powers to make them fight. After a Kirk-esque fight between two people who look alike, it backfires and they're able to kill the mentalist. They make it to the church just as the apes invade. Firefights and fistfights ensue. The head priest starts to set off the bomb, but dies. Nova dies. Taylor gets shot. Brent kills a bunch of apes, then dies. Finally, Taylor struggles to the console and with his last breath, sets off the bomb. The end. Roll credits.

Overall, it felt like a bad Star Trek episode. There are some interesting ideas in there, but even they are rhinestones, not diamonds, in a very large pile of rough. I liked the vision the mental mutants used to deter the apes: a huge statue of their god, "the Lawgiver," bleeds from the eyes and mouth while surrounded by fire and apes crucified upside down. I like that it was Dr. Zaius, the ape of faith, who doesn't believe it and charges through. I thought there was great wasted potential in the idea that humans weren't mute, but had become telepathic. I did love the irony of Taylor being the one to "damn them to hell" the same way his own race damned themselves.

I will admit to being surprised by the ending. All three main characters die, then the whole place is obliterated by a nuclear bomb! How in the world did they make a sequel to that!? Unfortunately, I won't find out until next week.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Planet of the Apes


So I'm a bit behind schedule, but I did get to watch Planet of the Apes yesterday, the beginning of my Ape-ril Madness Marathon. I'm not going to do a full review or analysis here, since that's been done by many, and often better than me. I did really like it, though.

There's something great about '60's and '70's science fiction. In the days before Star Wars made science fantasy king, sci-fi was about ideas. There was a fantastic Filmspotting marathon that included such movies as Soylent Green, Silent Running, and Logan's Run. I love The Forbin Project and The Omega Man as well, not to mention the monumental 2001: A Space Odyssey. What made all of these movies so fascinating was the way they were about something. What if? What if we run out of food? What if we eliminated old people? What if a computer ran the world? You finish watching any of these movies and you have a lot more to talk about than, "Man, wasn't that explosion cool?"

So, what is Planet of the Apes about? Sure, everybody knows that it's about apes running the world in a crazy, upside-down future world. (As an aside, it really pisses me off that they print the spoiler ending of the movie on the box cover. Yes, yes, everyone knows it's Earth. But can't you, for once, pretend? Let people discover it fresh!) But there's so much more to it than that. Throughout the movie there are parallels to so many philosophical conflicts. The ethical treatment of animals, zoos, prejudice, class struggle, science vs. religion, evolution, the nature of intelligence, and the typical '60's favorites, anti-establishment and young vs. old. Some of it is overt, some of it is subtle; best of all, there aren't really answers-- it just is. That's just great fodder for conversation.

I also really liked the pacing-- very slow. It's 30 minutes into the film before you see the first ape (the big reveal/reversal). It's 30 minutes after that when Taylor finally gets his voice back and shouts that famous line (another reversal, this time for the apes). I loved the sets and costumes, and especially the little touches. The apes' shoes have little thumb-pockets on the side. This is barely even noticeable on screen, but it's there. Fantastic.

Another thing I liked, and this is touched on in the article I linked to before, is that they speak and write English. I like it because it takes a standard sci-fi trope that we all accept without thinking (that we can communicate with other species), and turns it into a plot point. We, as the audience, just accept that they're communicating because that's how it is in a sci-fi movie. But when we discover it's Earth, it suddenly makes that a huge clue that was staring us in the face the whole time. I'm probably not describing that very well, but oh well.

I don't see how they could make a sequel to this, let alone four. I know nothing about the rest of them, but I'm pretty sure Mr. Heston doesn't return. Does that mean that his character doesn't either? I don't know, but I'm eager to find out! I'm about to pop in the next one right now.

Oh, and one last thing, just because I love it:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Blue Bell Fun Run - 10K

Hooray! This morning I completed my first 10K race. It was the Blue Bell Fun Run, over in Brenham, TX. A bit of a drive, but I thought it might be a nice change of scenery.

Overall, I'm pleased with my performance, though not thrilled by it. The course was much more hilly than I am accustomed to, plus this is the farthest I've ever run, plus it was my first time in ages to be running without my dog.

I finished in 57:00, which works out to a 9:11 mile. I was hoping for 9:00/mile, so that's not too bad. Here are my stats compared with the rest of the runners:
  • Total runners: 246/918 (26.8%)
  • Total men: 168/385 (43.6%)
  • Total men 40-49: 42/76 (55.3%)
I find it fascinating that I do worse (percentage-wise) the more narrow my field becomes. That means there are a lot of really fast old guys. I guess that most of them have been running a lot longer (or more consistently) than I have.

One thing I did come to realize while running this race was that I've been somewhat holding back in my 5Ks. I run them at a nice pace, but not really exerting myself. That's going to change this year. Any 5Ks I run, I'm going to really push myself just to see what I can do.

Just a few quick notes about the run. I was hoping for better scenery, but mostly it was just running along country roads. There were farms and horses and cows, but no bluebonnets or rolling hills.

As we were lining up to start the race, I look around me and nearly everyone is strapping on their iPods. This didn't bother me as much as it does for a 5K, but still, can't people be non-media stimulated for even an hour? But that's not even why I mention it. After we start, I hear some "Eye of the Tiger"-type music playing, but I didn't think much of it, assuming it was just something for the race. But after a few minutes when the second song starts up ("Mr. Brightside" by The Killers), I thought to myself, "Shouldn't I have passed the speakers by now?" Then I discovered that some guy has portable iPod speakers on a backpack. Come on, dude! I realize that I'm in the minority 20% who don't have earbuds in, but what gives you the right to deny me of my self-imposed silence? Needless to say, my pace for my first mile was a bit quicker than the rest as I tried to put as much distance as I could between us.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ape-ril Madness

Sometimes, things just synchronize in weird ways.

When I first joined Netflix, I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. Of course I put a bunch of unseen recent movies in my queue, but I also lined up a large number of classics I had never seen. There are tons of great documentaries on there, and it's also a great way to catch up on a TV series that you might have missed. Needless to say, my queue became huge pretty quickly.

One of the oddball ideas I had when first adding movies was, "Hey, I should do a marathon of every Planet of the Apes movie." So, with a few quick flicks, there it was.

I manage my queue pretty well, bumping up things that interest me and pushing back others that I'm just not in the mood for. I was very excited when I finally got the list under 100 titles, as if that was a major accomplishment, but it didn't last for very long. So, often when I saw that big block of ape movies coming up, I would find some other masterpiece to take precedence.

Sure enough, just the other day I was checking to see what was coming up, and Planet of the Apes is at the top of the queue. But here's the coincidence: that same day, my friend Paul sent me a link to this article, which talks about how great (and under-appreciated) the original movie is.

I'd like to say that I was immediately inspired to start my marathon, but honestly it took me a while to even read the article. It sat in my inbox for quite a while, taunting me. Finally, I did, and yes, it did get me excited. So, starting next week, I'm going to try to do a movie and post each day. Next week is Ape Week!

I loved the original movie when I was a kid, but I don't think I've seen it fully since then. I have only vague semi-memories of the other films as they appeared on Saturday afternoon television. I really have no idea what to expect from them.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Games, March 2011

On BoardGameGeek, there's a geeklist created at the end of every month where people can discuss games they played for the first time that month. It's been going on for a couple of years, but this year I finally decided to join in. Today, I also decided to repost my contribution here. I'm not sure if the formatting will follow over or not, so this is a bit of an experiment.

To see the original post in context with pictures, as well as read all the other contributions, follow this link to the original list.

A pretty low game-playing month for me in general, and nothing overly exciting in the new game front. In fact, all of my new plays were thrift store finds, and all but one of them happened on the same night. My game group indulged me for about an hour or so and we plowed through a bunch of word games just for fun. Here are the results.


This is a very unique game in that it combines a word game with a dexterity game and throws in a speed component.

Random letter tiles are placed in a plastic tray (face-down, unlike the photo) that has snake-like tracks. Dice are thrown to determine the length (3-7 letters) and type (noun or verb) of word to be created. Then, all players scramble to get tiles out of the tracks. You can grab from any track, but it has to be from the front. Additionally, if you want to return a letter, you must put it in at the back, which sometimes forces you to waste time sliding tiles in order to make room for it. As soon as someone has created a word that fits the criteria, and] has no extra tiles in front of them, they ring the bell and end the round.

The first player scores a small bonus plus a point for every letter in the word. Remaining players can score a point per letter for
*any* word (even if it doesn't fit the criteria) that they've completed, minus a point for any extra tiles. This scoring system makes it very interesting, since you should try to have at least some word to reduce the damage if you're not the first one done.

It was very chaotic, but that made it fun and it played very quickly. Vocabulary helped, of course, but it wasn't as essential as it is in other games.

I saw the box in the thrift store from the side and thought it was Acquire, a personal favorite. When it was instead a game I'd never heard of, I thought I'd spend the dollar and take the chance. I was really pleasantly surprised. 3 1/2 out of 5


Another game I'd never heard of, I picked up this one because it was part of a "trilogy" (more on that in a minute).

This is another one that probably would do well with better exposure, especially since it only requires a special pad of paper to be played (and could probably be approximated with just a blank piece of paper).

Each player gets their own pad, which is hidden from other players. On it are two grids, each with random numbering of the squares within. On a turn, a player calls out a number and then the letter they want to write in that space. The goal is to create words in the grid, both across and down. A player can call a "blank," which must be used to end or separate words.

Since everyone's pad is different, a "T" in space 14 might be great for me, but totally ruin a word for you. That's why you have two grids, so that you have an option. The play felt very similar to Take it Easy!, but with words instead of numbers. We all liked it quite a bit. 3 1/2 out of 5


The second in the "trilogy."

I don't have a lot to say here, since I imagine most everyone is familiar with Boggle. For a very quick, very light word game, I think it still holds up pretty well. Having a large vocabulary doesn't seem to be as important as having a flexible mind, since transposing the same three or four letters to make 16 different words can be more valuable. Also, you almost have to write all of those three-letter words. Not only does it stop someone else from scoring them, but you can score on any of the ones that others missed.

One interesting thing about this "1st generation" version was the flawed design of the Boggle case. The lid was so small that it was impossible to shake the dice with it on. That was obviously fixed pretty quickly. 3 out of 5


This is the third in the "trilogy," but unfortunately we didn't get around to playing it. I just wanted to include it here so you could see all of the boxes. I need to add a photo of all three of them together. No rating.


A seemingly straight-forward trick-taking game that is very similar to Oh Hell!. I grew up playing games like this with my family, so I thought I was pretty adept at most of them. Unfortunately, I did abysmally at this one. I'm more than ready for a rematch.

The game uses a standard four-suit deck (newer versions have custom suits) with an added four Jesters (lowest, non-suited card) and four Wizards (highest, non-suited cards). The first round, each player is dealt a single card. Everyone bids whether or not they'll take the one trick available. Each subsequent round, an additional card is dealt, until you reach the point where all cards are dealt.

The scoring is simple but interesting. You get 20 points for making your bid, plus 10 points for each trick taken. If you fail your bid, you lose 10 points for each trick you missed it by, whether over or under. This means that making a large bid can help your score a lot, but also just barely missing a large bid doesn't hurt you too much. Also, bidding zero rewards the same no matter how many tricks there are in a round, which is unusual.

I think what killed me in this game was failing to recognize the power of the Wizards. They always take a trick, and never have to follow suit, which basically makes them like bombs in Tichu. There were many hands in which I either failed to account for them in other people's hands, or failed to use them properly when they were in mine.

Overall, I thought it was a really good game, and I expect my rating will go up with more plays. 3 out of 5


Lastly, a thrift find I've had in my collection for years, but never got around to playing until this past month. It's an interesting hand management game, but I think it might play too long for what it is.

Each player has a similar (identical? I don't remember.) set of cards of knights. These knights are played to conquer kingdoms, and the kingdoms grant abilities as well as award points at the end of the game. Players are very limited on what they can do each turn, so you have to plan and watch carefully to make sure you can build up the strength necessary to conquer a kingdom. I liked that aspect of it.

What I didn't like was the game-ending conditions, which were for one player to play all of their cards. This seems benign, but in practice takes longer than I would like. Each time a person takes a kingdom card, they place it with their (now defending) knight army in front of them. If another player later takes that kingdom, the defending knights go *back in the players's hand*. Eventually, players build up armies large enough to either not be taken or end the game, but it just seemed tedious.

I wasn't thrilled by the game, but I would be willing to try it again. We played with the beginner set up, and I would like to see the effect of the more advanced kingdom abilities. 2 1/2 out of 5

Monday, March 28, 2011

Little Thoughts

Crap, two whole months without a post. That's pathetic. Well, rather than bore you with one really long post, I've decided to bore you with a semi-long post comprised of really short snippets. Enjoy!


Since my last post was about my running achievements from last year and goals for this year, I might as well start with an update about that. I'm pleased to say I'm doing rather well. Karen and I have started running together on the weekends, which works surprisingly well. We go to Memorial Park, which has a 2.92 mile circuit. She runs at a much slower pace, so she and I and the puppy go around once together. Then I take the puppy and go around again while she relaxes and reads. This helps me moderate my pace, plus gives me my long run for the week. I've already logged 60 miles running this month, which is a new high for me. This experience has made me much more confident in my long running ability, and I'm eager to run my first 10K next month.

Wisteria Hysteria

Yesterday was yard work day. Aside from the usual lawn care, I had the special task of taming a wild plant-beast in our backyard. If you're not familiar with it, wisteria is a vine-like plant with pretty purple flowers and a nice fragrance. Normally, this plant is trained to grow vertically on a pergola to provide shade and a pleasing view. Unfortunately, when left alone, it spreads like an evil virus.

It had dozens of tendrils, each extending for at least 15 feet along and under the ground. It was a major task getting it under control. The reason I felt like mentioning it here is because of the weird difficulty in removing it. It was actually rather complicated. The network of roots and vines were very like the wiring in a complex bomb. I had to trace each one to the source, sometimes having to remove a different one before I could remove the first. And after I had removed many smaller root clusters, each one containing plenty of challenges themselves, I was finally able to tackle the big one. I hacked and cut and dug and swore. I attacked side roots to weaken the main root. I dug around it to get different angles of attack. And when I finally defeated it, I felt exactly the same satisfaction I feel after defeating a particularly gnarly big boss in a video game. "Game Over, Wisteria-Man! I've rooted out your evilness."

Apples and Oranges

Speaking of plants, here's something else. I actually posted this somewhere completely different a while ago, but I amused myself enough that I'm repeating it here. I really don't get the whole "It's like comparing apples and oranges" phrase. Those are two very comparable things-- they're both fruit, grow on trees, mostly round, often found in Christmas stockings. One can easily compare them: I like apples more than oranges because you don't have to peel them. I like oranges better than apples because they are sweeter. It just doesn't make sense to me. If you really wanted to negate a comparison, shouldn't the objects be as disparate as possible? "That's like comparing apples and sheet music" or "That's like comparing John Boehner and oranges." Okay, maybe that last one doesn't work, but I think you see my point.

Whedon World

I've been enjoying the series Dollhouse on Netflix lately. I really like how it is a "sex and violence" show that really plays with deeper sci-fi concepts of mind and personality. I'll be sad when I reach the end of its run.

But it got me to thinking how cool it would be if Josh Whedon were able to put together an amusement park like old Walt's place. Of course, a huge portion of the park would have to be dedicated to Sunnydale and Buffy's exploits therein. You could walk the halls of Sunnydale High, hang out at the Hellmouth, or grab a brew at The Bronze. Nearby would be the big city where Angel worked.

Obviously, the most popular section would be The 'Versed, based on the reality created for Firefly. You could have a truly frightening "Reavers of the Caribbean" ride and a full mock-up of Serenity. The best would be a Firefly rollercoaster: lots of ups and downs, but you're forced to get off right when it gets really good.

Lastly, there's the Dollhouse. I'm not exactly sure how this would play out, but it most likely wouldn't be appropriate for children. Do you get to pretend you're a different person, or do you just custom order a person for your own, um, pleasure?

I certainly hope Mr. Whedon keeps creating. I've never had any interest in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but otherwise I think he's produced really excellent stuff. If he keeps it up, maybe someday we really will get a Whedon World.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Running Year

Well, I finally went for a run this morning after a two-week hiatus. I didn't mean to take such a long break, but the cold as well as being a little under the weather myself kept me away. It felt really good to be back out there (even though it was cold), and I hope to increase my weekly frequency as well as my mileage. Anyway, it got me to thinking I should recap my running like I did some of my other hobbies.

Last year I didn't really set a hard and fast goal for myself. I don't think I'm cut out to run a marathon, but I may look at trying a half-marathon this year. The most intimidating thing to me is not the physical exertion of running (although I know I'm not in shape enough for it yet). What bothers me is the sheer boredom of running for four hours. I guess that's why so many people carry iPods.

I log my runs at the Runner's World website. They have a free log that suits my purposes just fine. I'm sure there are many others, probably some better, but I don't need much. Unfortunately, it's difficult to pull useful stats. I can't even say how many miles I ran last year.

My average pace seems to hover right around 8:45/mile. That's not bad, but I'm disappointed that it doesn't appear to have changed over the course of the year. So, this year I will make it an actual goal to get that time down. Let's say 8:00 a mile, by this time next year.

I ran in five different 5Ks last year, so that's pretty good. They're just for fun, not competition, but it is nice to get an official time on a measured course. I wouldn't mind doing a few more this year, but I think five is fine. However, I will set a goal for myself to run at least one 10K this year.

Looking at my stats, I'm surprised to see that June was the month I ran the most in, with about 55 miles. I would have thought the heat would keep me back. Next most were October, then December. The trick for the coming year will be to get back to a solid schedule and make sure I run at least four times a week. I should also make a bigger effort to get in a longer run each week.

Okay, that's it. Not a very exciting post, but it was more just for my own benefit. It's a good idea to have goals in writing, and even more intimidating to have them in public where people can check you on them. The Houston Marathon is coming up in the next week or so. I'm nowhere near that level today, but I'm curious to see how I'll feel about it in a year.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Nickels and Dimes, 2010

A common annual tradition amongst us boardgame geeks is to count up the number of games we've played the most in the past year. Every game we've played at least five times is a nickel, and at least ten is a dime. I don't have any quarters this year, but that's okay. Let's get on with the list!


This year I had 12 (technically 11) different games I played at least five times. Here are the highlights.

Pandemic: On the Brink
On the Brink is an expansion to the game Pandemic. I played Pandemic eight times, but five of those included On the Brink, which is why I really only played 11 different games this year. Pandemic is a cooperative game in which the players work together to stop the spread of diseases across the globe. I really enjoy the game, and especially admire the design. The expansion that was released is just fantastic for a number of reasons. It truly *expands* the game without making it too cluttered or overbearing. You can also pick and choose which aspects you want to add to the base game, making it more like four or five different games. And lastly, they included both replacement pawns and cool Petri dishes to "upgrade" the base game. I'm really glad I have this, and I expect to play it for years to come.

I have several card games in my list this year. That happens every year, actually. Card games are portable and usually quick, so those factors often lend to them being played more.

This clever card game was just released in 2010, and it has been a big hit. Players draft and play cards in a rummy-like fashion to develop your civilization. As you become stronger in certain areas, you can use special abilities on some cards. The rules are simple and straight-forward, but it still allows for some complex interactions. I managed seven plays this year.

Space Hulk: Death Angel
This one is cooperative like Pandemic, but it can also be played solo, and that is how I managed all seven plays this year. You might not think playing a boardgame by yourself would have any appeal, but this one managed to be pretty interesting. It managed to bring the tension and feel of Space Hulk, and would probably work as a good introduction to that game.

Another great little card game that came out just this past year. I was especially fortunate in that I was selected to play-test this game. The designer contacted me through BoardGameGeek to see if I would be interested in trying a two- to three-player game similar to Tichu. Of course, I jumped at the chance! I really like it a lot, and I'm sorry that I haven't played it in quite a while. I'm very pleased, however, that I turned on several of my friends to it, which hopefully led to more sales. In fact, if you'd like a copy, you can pick it up straight from the publisher: Indie Boards & Cards. I highly recommend all three of their current titles, and I look forward to more from them in the future.

Other nickels:


The dimes are usually less interesting (to me) because they often consist of short or party games. But there are two in particular which deserve mention here.

The Resistance
This is a great variation on the game Werewolf, in that you have two teams pitted against each other, but one side has its members hidden among all the players. There's plenty of room for deception and subterfuge, but unlike Werewolf, all players stay in for the whole game. To me, that elevates it immensely. I kinda cheated to get 10 plays of this one, since I forced it on a rather inebriated crowd on New Year's Eve. I don't care, though, because I love promoting this game. This one is also produced by Indie Boards and Cards. Did I mention that you could pick up these games at their website? You might as well pick up all three, you know. To save on shipping.

Through the Ages
This is a fantastic game about developing your own civilization through the course of centuries. You must grow you population, keep them happy and fed, develop new buildings and technology, and never forget to defend them with a good military. There are always far too many things you want to do and never enough resources or time to do them. Speaking of not enough time, this game usually takes at least three hours. That is a long time for a boardgame, but you are always so engrossed that it passes reasonably quickly.

However, of my 11 plays of this, I don't think any of them finished in less than three days. How did I have time to play for that long? A friend introduced me to a website (Boardgaming Online) on which you can play by email. This was a godsend to me. As much as I like this game, it is very fiddly in the sense that it requires a lot of manipulation of components, keeping track of various resources, cards, points, etc. Having that taken care of by computer is absolutely ideal. Secondly, playing by email allows you to take as much time as you need on your turn. You can test out different ideas before finalizing your move, an option that just isn't practical (or polite) when playing in person. So, even though the game could take several days to play, it actually feels like it plays much faster. Never fast enough, really, because when all opponents are online at the same time, it can move like lightning. I'm very happy that such a lengthy and meaty game finally made it into my dimes.

Other dimes:

I still haven't found a quick and easy way to determine my total plays and total unique games for the year. I'll probably end up having to just count it like I did last year. When I do, I'll add it here.

Here's a link to last year's list. Thanks for reading!

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