Bro-caves

Continuing the bromance theme this week, I’d like to talk about man-caves. Every good bromance deserves a fitting locale. The first example that comes to mind is the apartment of Joey and Chandler on Friends. Their apartment with it’s various iterations represents the peak of bachelorhood and bromancedom. A good bro-cave should incorporate comfort…

…and random whimsy…

Everything in this picture makes sense.

A more recent example is the bromance depicted in This Means War. Now, the two dudes lived in separate apartments, but they both represent the essentials of what a bro-cave includes. First we have Tuck’s apartment:

Is it a garage? Is it a loft? The overlap of the two is where testosterone comes from.

And then we have Foster’s apartment which is no less impressive. I couldn’t find a decent picture of it, but suffice to say it has a pool……in the ceiling.

If you put those two places together you’d have a concentration of manliness so dense that it would spontaneously produce Chuck Norris clones.

Finally, we have one of the classic bromances. One that traveled halfway across the country and thrived in a variety of wacky situations…

This is perhaps the most stylish of bromances.

They came from humble beginnings and had to make the best bro-cave they could as they took their adventure on the road…

As far as bromances go, this is practically cuddling. But manlier.

It wasn’t always comfortable or convenient, but they adapted to their circumstances. When living conditions prevent few options, a healthy bromance knows no boundaries…

Truth.

And now I bring to you a personal request.

I thought that the whole idea of a man-cave was kinda dumb and very cliche. Then I bought a house with a two-car garage and suddenly the idea of a man-cave doesn’t sound so bad. HOWEVER, I still think it’s cliche to call it “The Man Cave”, and this is where you come in. As I have been setting things up, I have been trying to come up with a clever name for my garage that is less obvious than “man cave.” Below are some options that I have so far:

Rohan, Bag-End, or Weathertop (from Lord of the Rings)

McLaren’s (bar from How I Met Your Mother)

Tardis, Gallifrey (from Doctor Who)

Winterfell, King’s Landing (from Game of Thrones)

Mos Eisley (from Star Wars)

Batcave, Fortress of Solitude, Oa (from the DC Universe)

Aperture Labs, Black Mesa (from the Half-Life Universe)

The hatch, The Lamp Post (from LOST)

Those are just what comes to mind immediately, but feel free to use your creativity and draw from other cool franchises. I’m going for a casual, fun vibe, so bar-type name makes sense, but I’m also a huge nerd so I’m open to nearly anything. I would appreciate any suggestions or heated debates in the comments below.

While you’re at it, I also want to hear fun anecdotes of when you’ve named a special object or place.

 

Book (and Bromance) Review: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

It’s been unusually hot in SoCal this summer, so I was feeling the need for a bit of London fog and walking-sticks to cool me down and cheer me up and so delved into The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Since we’ve been on the topic of bromances this week in the Booth, I thought I’d recommend Holmes and Watson for your reading pleasure as well.

Sherlock Holmes is Encyclopedia Brown, All Grown-Up and with a Better Vocabulary. He’s attractive in a maniacal, crazy-chemist way, intriguing and complicated and intelligent and not always aware of the people around him, which is why he needs Watson.

Doctor Watson is his opposite. He’s practical and compassionate and in awe of his friend almost as often as he is irritated by him. Holmes and Watson have the ultimate Victorian bromance: because their language skills are downright astounding and their culture is so refined, they often say casually kind things to each other that are unthinkable to men of today, but it’s endearing rather than strange.

Holmes’ cases are usually bizarre, but Watson rolls with his every whim and has his back in every tight space. Since Watson is the narrator of the book, the reader gets to experience the cases as he does – as a gentle, often disbelieving but generally warm-hearted compatriot would. We feel lucky to be included in their friendship and we want Holmes to share his side of ham with us in the same genial way he does with Watson.

The methods Holmes uses to solve his cases are typically unbelievable and rely heavily on the myth of Sherlock Holmes, Master Sleuth, but that’s part of the fun. Every chapter in the book is a new case and every new case is quirky and unique, so the reader becomes more and more attached to the characters and the unusual traits that make Sherlock Holmes a beloved friend and not simply a joke or stereotype.

Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law have made the best Holmes and Watson yet for the big screen, and much of their dialogue was lifted directly from the books, which made the movies extra fun for anglophiles like me.

Really?

I don’t like being a downer, but things have been a little depressing lately. Politics have been much more combative this election year. Everybody is upset and arguing on Facebook and everyone else is irritated by what’s said on Facebook. The Dark Knight Trilogy is finished. Huge storms ravage our cities and environment. Gas is hella expensive. Firefly is still cancelled. We can’t even enjoy our fried chicken without significant social and political implications.

To make matters worse, Christmas is already under attack months before it even starts. Friends, I’m sad to inform you that this exists.

 

Why???

Cinema Conjecture: Christopher Nolan

I recently had the pleasure of seeing The Dark Knight Rises again and I was surprised to realize how much crossover there is between The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception. Now, the obvious explanation to this is that Christopher Nolan has favorite actors that he likes to use. This is not uncommon, many directors do this. But the obvious explanation is boring so I’m going with something much better. There will be MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for all the movies.

As you read this, you should hang some plastic in the room around you Dexter-style because I am about to BLOW YOUR MIND.

So let’s start by listing the overlapping actors between The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception.

Joseph Gordon Levitt (JGL)- He was Arthur in Inception and John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises OR WAS HE???

Ken Watanabe- In Inception he was the one inexperienced guy on the crew. In Batman Begins he was the fake Ra’s Al Ghul who acted as a decoy for the real one (Liam Neeson).

Cillian Murphy- He played the target in Inception and he appeared as Scarecrow all three Dark Knight films. But perhaps there’s more to him than it seems…

Marion Cotillard- She was Leo DiCaprio’s crazy dead wife in Inception and (SPOILERS) Talia Al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises, where she played as only slightly less crazy.

Tom Hardy- He played the muscle in Inception and in The Dark Knight Rises he plays….the muscle. But don’t take that to be a bad thing!

Michael Caine- In both Inception and The Dark Knight Trilogy he plays the kindly, concerned father figure.

Why does all this matter you ask? I just want you to have a clear idea of the overlap between the two franchises, because here comes the kicker (pun intended):

The entire Dark Knight Trilogy is another “Inception” job.

That’s right, let it sink in.

In order to really grasp this revelation, you have to understand some facts about Inception that I am in no way making up right now. First off, the entirety of Inception and The Dark Knight Trilogy was masterminded by Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Inception character. And he was working with Marion Cotillard’s Inception character, except that they’ve learned how to control her crazy by the time they get to The Dark Knight Rises. Now obviously, JGL and MarCot don’t show up until the last Dark Knight movie, but that was the plan all along. Much of the same Inception crew is in the Dark Knight Trilogy, except that Leo’s character appears as Commissioner Gordon. Ellen Page’s character appeared as Rachel Dawes, but then she got killed, which means she’s in limbo. Sucks to be her.

After the events of Inception was when the whole “Dark Knight Job” took place. “But Inception came out in between the second and third Dark Knight films, what gives?” Time has no meaning in this situation and stop asking challenging questions!!! The question you should be asking is this: why? Why go to all of this trouble? Why the elaborate Gotham City construct?

The end of The Dark Knight Rises reveals everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. The job was Bruce Wayne. You see, Bruce Wayne is real and he’s actually super wealthy. Wayne Enterprises is a thriving mega-corporation. However, Bruce Wayne is NOT actually Batman, he just thinks he is in his dreams. Bruce Wayne’s Batman alter-ego (including the Batcave and the Applied Weapons division) are all constructs that he uses to safeguard the delicate information that protects his wealth. JGL uses Bruce Wayne’s mental Batman identity to play the long con and access what he needs to take sensitive information from Bruce Wayne.

The entirety of The Dark Knight Trilogy is JGL’s quest to gain access to the Batcave so that he can inherit the cowl and take control of Wayne Enterprises. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. And the best part is that Bruce Wayne voluntarily gives it up after faking his own heroic death, so he won’t even put up a fight outside of the dream. Tom Hardy, MarCot, and the rest all play small or large roles to lead Bruce Wayne to the point where he gives up his Bat-wealth in this elaborate dream. And who was the most influential on Bat-Bruce choosing to give up the cape? Michael Caine, who was also in Inception. He was working from the inside all along!!

Are these casting decisions coincidences??? I THINK NOT!!!

Film Diptych: Our Daily Bread & Babette’s Feast

Sometimes two good films are made even richer held side to side. Here’s a film diptych about food.

Watch Our Daily Bread first. It’s a German documentary without any words or music. The film makers got access to several of the big agricultural businesses in Europe and simply filmed them doing what we pay them to do (grow food, process that food). Have you ever seen the Discovery Channel show How it’s Made? I think it’s hypnotizing. Our Daily Bread is a little like that. But shot by an artist.

Frankly the film is haunting and horrifying. It’s also beautiful. When I squinted my eyes every frame was beautiful, the colors and the lines and movement. In fact there are a lot of scenes dominated with lines, long straight lines.

I was startled by how mechanical the food industry has become. I mean I knew it was highly mechanized, but this is so very sanitized and efficient! There are no smoke smudges or drops of sweat or caterpillars. There are just long straight lines. And many strained, scowling faces of workers. In order to not develop a horrified superiority complex throughout the film remind yourself that these are your factories, my factories.

Then watch Babette’s Feast, a really fun little light-hearted comedy about a strict puritan village somewhere in Scandinavia.

The purist of the puritans, two sisters, take in a french widow, displaced by war or some tragedy. Turns out Babette (that’s the Frenchwoman’s name) is a master artist of french cuisine. Babette, to the confusion and discomfort of the sisters, decides to prepare a single amazing feast in honor of the sisters’ dead father. This is truly uncomfortable for the sisters and all of their disciples because their father preached strongly against sensuality in favor of strict simplicity.

Watching the preparation of that feast, in a 19th Century kitchen with a wood stove and cast iron crockery, is a delight. Here watch a little:

This is bare knuckled cooking. There are lots of smoke smudges and sweaty bonnets and feathers. At the end, the strained faces of the puritans maybe just maybe bend a little into shy smiles.

[ODB images from http://www.ourdailybread.at%5D

Why I’m Still Planning to See “The Dark Knight Rises” This Weekend

Another shooting has occurred and we are all once again horrified and grief-stricken. Reading the details about the shooting fills me with frustration and anger at such a blatant disregard for human life. There have been many reactions to this event already, including some people choosing not to see the movie at all. I won’t pretend to know what these families and survivors are experiencing right now, nor how they feel about the movie or about other people going out to see this movie as if nothing has happened. My reaction to the events as well as others’ reactions is by no means intended to disrespect or undermine the seriousness of this situation. I am not trying to say that you are wrong for choosing to change your plans for whatever reason. However, I am intentionally choosing to head to the theater as planned. Here’s why:

Skipping out seems like a misdirected response:

I was listening to morning talk radio (something I rarely do) when the news came out and many of the radio personalities were stating their plans to not go see the movie for various reasons. One reason is out of respect for the families of those who were killed or injured. This is perfectly reasonable and completely understandable. I think that people should follow their conscience in this matter according to their proximity to the situation. As much as it saddens me, I can also understand why premieres have been cancelled and the cast and crew have pulled out of promotional appearances.

Another reason given was that it “doesn’t seem right” or that it would be too hard not to think of the tragedy during the course of watching the movie. Thoughts such as “this might have been the last thing they saw before they died.” I can’t guarantee this won’t happen to me as well. But some also stated their reasoning as based on principle since people died during this movie. This is what I personally disagree with since I feel this is a misdirected response. I understand and can respect those reasons, but it’s not the filmmaker’s fault that this happened. The movie itself is coincidental, this could have happened during The Avengers or an obscure indie film. Nolan, Bale and crew were working long and hard on this film way before one disturbed individual decided to perform an act of terror. I personally don’t want to allow my experience of a well-crafted and amazing film to be overshadowed by one person’s malicious act. I feel that that is giving one deviant too much power. We should be respectful of those that lost their lives and supportive of the survivors, but we should not allow evil deeds to take control of our otherwise peaceful lives. Which leads to my next point…

Senseless violence must be confronted:

The perpetrator is in custody and will be brought to justice. The rest of society must now decide how we will interpret and react to these events. Some will respond by reverently memorializing those harmed, others will seek ways to express overwhelming disapproval of this violence, and still others will carelessly go about their lives. I am in the second category.

Now, I know that I’m not the first or the last to draw a connection between the real-world event and the fictional narrative (even the perpetrator seemed to be inspired by comic book villains), but I’m going to go ahead and make the obvious and tragically ironic connection here myself. Batman Begins was about the tension between bringing justice through destruction (Ra’s Al Ghoul) and bringing justice through virtue (Batman). Joey and myself discussed this very issue in depth here on the Corner Booth. Whether or not a superhero should kill will be an ongoing to debate, but what is not in dispute is that superheroes should do something in response to the tyranny of evil.

This was the theme of The Dark Knight, and presumably The Dark Knight Rises also. The Joker (and perhaps also Bane) represent the chaos of evil and terrorism. Batman doesn’t put up with terrorists, and neither should we. This new trilogy highlights the dark and difficult process of decent people standing up to crime and corruption without becoming corrupt themselves. Seeing a movie on opening weekend is a small, trivial thing, but I feel that going to the movies in spite of this terrible act is a way of showing that we won’t allow the flow of our lives be affected by a few disturbed individuals. This leads to my next reason for going:

Rebelling against a broken world:

This was a horrible tragedy, to be sure. The shooting is an unfortunate and extreme example of how our world is terribly fallen and completely depraved. People wonder how to live and go on in light of such a tragedy, and they’re not wrong. We have laws and structure and government to prevent this kind of thing, don’t we?? We have gun regulations, social services, and prevention programs designed to hopefully interrupt these behaviors. In this situation, nothing stopped one person from choosing to do the unspeakable. He obtained a gun, formed a plan, and carried it out. If he can do it, why couldn’t someone else? We’re not really and truly safe, despite our best efforts to convince ourselves that we are. That’s why this event is so disturbing.

But that’s not the end of the story. There is a good God who is in control of everything. That claim will come into question again with this incident, just like it did with 9/11, Katrina, wildfires, etc. But the center does hold if Jesus is at the center. If you believe and dwell only on the dark truths in the above paragraph, I would totally understand why you would respond in fear and anxiety. But we Christians have hope and trust in a better, more powerful person that allows us to sleep at night. My one ticket to a movie is a small rebellion that displays my hope is in something greater. I don’t have to live in fear of death because death has been conquered by my savior. And so, I can live on this earth and enjoy comics, film, and art without being crushed by the depressing reminders of evil. That focus on a greater reality leads me to my last reason…

To be reminded of why these stories captivate us:

Again we face the irony of the situation. We love comic book movies because they inspire us in light of horrific events, events such as a shooting at a midnight showing……of a comic book movie. We feel powerless in these times because life seems so hopeless. We want justice. We want someone outside our broken system, like Batman, to stand up and put a stop to this madness. That’s why we admire superheroes and go to see these movies. The problem is that these heroes are not real and do not exist in a way that would have deterred this shooting from occurring. This creates a problem, but maybe C. S. Lewis can help: “If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

For my Christian friends and myself, these fictional stories point us elsewhere. There is a Just One who does and will right all wrongs and fight the crimes of human sin. The tragedy in Colorado makes me want to see Batman fighting injustice all the more so that I can be reminded of a greater reality where death, evil and suffering have already been conquered.

Most Frequented Film: Bio-Dome

My formative years in a photograph.

Some time in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred ninety-nine, I purchased a VHS copy of Bio-Dome.  I don’t remember the specifics of where I bought the tape or why I bought the tape.  What I do know is this – I watched this movie nearly every school night of my sophomore year of high school.  It rubbed off.  A lot of my sophomore year behavior was directly informed by that VHS tape.  I’m not sure if that is good or bad or what, judge for yourself:

Who am I kidding, it was a great thing! As an adult, I even got to live out a dream:

Joey, Pauly, Nathan

Pauly Shore poked fun at Nate and me during his standup show.  This was the highest possible form of flattery for two Bio-Domers.

In sum: I have spent more time watching Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin pretend to guess dietary choices based on flatulence than I have spent at the Louvre.  La dolce vita,  I believe they call it.

Runners-up for most watched movie:

  • Bring It On
  • Fight Club
  • A Christmas Story
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous
  • The Mask