Last year around this same time, Sega announced their Sonic Mania game. The game would be download only, and the only physical release would come in the form of a cool collector's edition. It was all slated for April of this year. The game was eventually pushed back to late August for some reason. Cool. I pre-ordered the collector's edition because I knew it would be a hot item. Sure enough, I was right.
I picked mine up the day it was released. Just look at that thing! Isn't it cool? The statue is a 12 inch Sonic the Hedgehog standing on top of a replica Sega Genesis system. It's an exact replica, too, including every minor detail about the old system. If you switch the power on it makes the classic "Seegaaaa!" sound. There is also a metallic card. The coup de grače, however, is the old school Genesis cartridge that opens up to reveal a Sonic ring. This whole collector set is really impressive, and it was definitely worth the wait.
The game itself is really good. I can't speak for where it ranks among the other Sonic games, but I'm told by others that it's probably the best Sonic game since Sonic 2. That's high praise, since Sonic 2 was really good. Sonic Mania starts out exactly like Sonic the Hedgehog, in the Green Hill Zone. I've played the original Green Hill Zone so much that I know the map by memory. Halfway through Green Hill Zone you start noticing little changes, bouncy springs that weren't there before, and the level design changes up slightly. By the end of the level you realize you're playing an entirely new map that they eased you into by giving you a small taste of the past. It was quite excellent.
We have AT&T U-Verse now after having DirecTV for almost ten years. It's a vast improvement, since I can watch anything recorded on one DVR throughout the house. As an introductory package, I was given two years of movie channels for free. I have them all now except for HBO. That's okay, though, because I subscribe to HBO Now. I'll probably be cutting Netflix here pretty soon after I finish watching The Defenders, but I'll bring it back just in time to watch Stranger Things season 2.
Game of Thrones is wrapping up and it is painfully obvious. Character development has all but ceased in exchange for what seems to be a rushed story so we can hurry up and end it. That seems to be where it's going. The latest episode Beyond the Wall was absolutely absurd, and I wished they hadn't done it.
I have the day off today, so I'll probably be catching up on editing videos and podcasts. Also, I have to give SummerSlam 2017 a better look since I completely missed the first hour and then didn't care about the rest.
Whenever I write characters I try to have as much backstory as possible. Most of the backstory never gets written in the story itself, but it's nice to have because it helps me get a true feel for the person. While writing out one particular character, one who shuns popular norms, dating, going to the movies, and listening to popular music, I decided that he needed to have a favorite album. After some careful research I found Donald Fagen's The Nightfly. The album is a strange fusion of pop rock and jazz. Heck, it's almost 90% jazz and 10% rock, and it works so well.
While I haven't heard any of Fagen's other work, besides Steely Dan, I did find it odd that he took an 11 year hiatus from recording solo albums. Researching the guy, I found that The Nightfly was sort of a cathartic experience for him, and it took so much out of him that he just had to disengage from everything after recording it. This is understandable, as some people feel they put all that they have into one thing, and it begins to take a toll on them. I felt this way about the mini movie that I directed and edited myself. The process was such that I decided I probably didn't want to do that again. However, there are times that I wish some people would just stop after making their own masterpiece. What if Kevin Smith had stopped after making Clerks? What if Star Wars had been a box office failure and George Lucas never made another?
Yesterday I went to this BBQ place in town and had lunch. I also had their famous pecan cobbler with ice cream. In the past this had been my go-to, but today, in 2017, I found the dessert so sweet that I just could not finish it. Is this a sign of becoming too old? 37 is just around the corner. Aye...
I recently discovered this video on YouTube. Someone took the time to splice clips of the movie Career Opportunities, and mixed it with Space Age Love Song by A Flock of Seagulls. I saw the movie years ago when I was a teenager. Back then I used to roam around the $1.00 section of the video store, and one day I came across this movie. The box art is what drew me in. It's Jennifer Connelly on Frank Whaley's shoulders, and he's staring up at her cleavage. How could a sexually frustrated 16 year old not love this?
While the movie is okay, it's this video that got me. Someone in the comments described it as "This is exactly what falling in love in the 80's looked like." Granted, the movie came out in 1991, but I agree with the sentiment. It almost makes me wish I had been a teenager in the 80's. I know I probably would have been the same frustrated teen back then, but still, one can dream.
I watched The Founder last night. I was originally drawn in by the fact that Michael Keaton was in it. He's always given great performances. I used to be miffed that I never got to see him in the role Steve Martin eventually took over in the film Leap of Faith. I got my wish, sorta, when Michael Keaton played a shady faith healer on the show Frasier. Him being great in that role just made me even sadder that he dropped out of Leap of Faith. Nevertheless, Michael Keaton shined in the film Birdman, a film where the main character laments having been known only for playing a superhero. The ironic twist in this being that Michael Keaton is most famous for playing Batman in the two Tim Burton movies. In another weird and ironic twist, after playing this part of Birdman in Birdman, Keaton comes back as another flying winged comic book character, Vulture, in this year's blockbuster Spider-Man: Homecoming.
In The Founder, Keaton isn't playing anyone from any comic book. He's playing real life fast food icon Ray Kroc. My first thought after watching this movie was, what exactly were they going for here? Ray Kroc was a huckster who conned the McDonald Brothers out of the business they started. Nowhere in this film is Kroc painted as a sympathetic character. Not only does he randomly leave his wife one day, he replaces her with another man's wife. On top of that, he makes it to where his ex-wife doesn't get any part of his business, pretty much leaving her destitute with a house and the cars. In the climax of the film, Kroc buys Mac and Dick McDonald's shares of the company, renegs on a handshake deal to give them royalties, and then, makes them change the name of their original McDonald's stand. To drive the point home and to be an even greater asshole, he opens a McDonald's across the street from the original store, now known as The Big M. In reality, he opened a McDonald's down the street a bit, but still, it was seen as a hostile move that eventually forced the McDonald Brothers out of business within two years.
Character aside, the performances from everyone in the film were top notch. Keaton's interpretation of Ray Kroc reminded me of his role in a not very well known '80's film, Gung-Ho. In that movie, Keaton is an auto plant manager trying to save the small town he lives in by convincing a Japanese company to reopen the plant, thus bringing jobs back to the town. Keaton's character's drive to success in that film reminded me of just how hard Ray Kroc in the movie was trying to move milkshake machines, and later McDonald's franchises.
Nick Offerman did an amazing job as Dick McDonald, as did John Carroll Lynch portraying Mac McDonald. I had just watched John Carroll Lynch's performance as Arthur Leigh Allen (one of the many men believed to be the Zodiac Killer) in Zodiac. While I had seen him in other things, including The Drew Carey Show, I didn't take him serious as an actor until Zodiac. Here he does a great job as the timid, weaker of the two McDonald Brothers. Nick on the other hand, plays the more alpha Dick McDonald. Mac was the strong-willed brother, but often he was outsmarted and out foxed by the slickster Ray Kroc. Laura Dern also did a greate job as Ray's first wife.
The movie was well done. Most documentaries of this kind, where the story is somewhat already known, we get just a smattering of scenes and some bad dialogue (I'm looking at you, Notorious). But this movie was actually paced really well, and the acting really drove home the parts that some of us already knew. The only cringey moment was when Ray met Fred Turner for the first time. "What's your name, son?" "Fred Turner!" *pause so the audience can gasp*
While I don't think the filmmakers went out of their way to paint Ray Kroc in a bad light, I think they were just trying to present the facts as best they could. I did some Googling after watching the film, and for the most part, everything happened the way it appeared in the movie. Ray Kroc was a dastardly asshole, and here is how he used his cunningness to yank away the dreams of two small-time hamburger makers from New Hampshire. The only negative is that I wanted a little more on the personal side of Ray Kroc.