So for Halloween this year I decided to buy some popcorn and settle down to watch the original Ghostbusters film. As I was sorting things out and getting ready and with the knowledge that the clocks were going to be going back that night I also brought the new Ghostbusters from Sky stores.
Now I had never watched the new movie and to be honest up until now had no intention to. This wasn’t just because I had heard bad things about the movie which pout me off. I always prefer to make up my own mind and I was a fan of Ghostbusters. I like both movies and the original cartoon series. I had the figures, the toy proton pack (and also one I made a few years ago for a fancy dress party) I collected all the weekly comics when I was a kid although I got rid of them several years ago and I still have a Ghostbusters story book that was a Christmas gift back in the 80’s.
Neither was my reluctance was in any way due to the recasting of the Busters nor that the cast was all female. No I just on general don’t like remakes of things that I love form my childhood. Dukes of Hazard is one such example. I loved the show but the new movie sucked and I think this is in some parts due to the fact that they always seem to want to make remakes as all out comedies. Starsky and Hutch seems to be another movie that did this.
Now I understand that Ghostbusters were basically two films and not a series and in itself was a comedy but what I found about the original was that it was mainly subtle comedy. Peter Venkman is clearly the smart Alec and the others have comedy moments that comes as in Egon’s case his quirky character or in Ray Stanz’s case his reactions to the situations around him. But for the most part they play their roles in a believable way. It’s not slapstick but the comedy comes out of the lines that come out or even in some cases just a certain look. It is secondary character Louis that comes across as the comic relief.
What I found with the new film that it just seems to be all four cast members trying to be the comic. Seriously look up Honest Trailers Ghostbusters on You Tube and see for yourself. Therefore it just comes across that the whole film just revolves around these four characters being in funny situations. Actually makes that five as Chris Hemsworth as useless receptionist Kevin also goes over the edge as the stupidest person on the face of the planet. With all this going on the film just seems to lack any tension which is a shame. Some of the comedy works, the scene where they go to rent the firehouse before finding out about the rent and ending up above a takeaway instead. However others such as Yates being bounced all over an alleyway but one of Holtzman’s new toys just comes across as cartoonish.
It also seems to take a long time to get started before we get to anything really exciting happening. There is a long build up to the Ghostbusters actually getting started. The idea of a villain who is trying to break down the wall between this world and the spirit world is interesting and he is quite a bland villain. Basically someone who had been bullied and wants to teach the world a lesson and at the start of the film it works well to have this bland villain who eventually kills himself to get into the spirit world. What should have happened then is to make the villain terrifying and ramp up the tension. Instead we get a possessed Kevin who just doesn’t seem like a threat. This film with some work could have been a lot better.
That’s not to say that the film is a complete disaster. There are some good parts. The opening scene was quite spooky. The actresses mainly do an ok job and Kate McKinnon’s Holtzman is a fantastic character. Seriously I would watch a sequel just to see more of this character. There are some nice nods to the original film such as the Marshmallow Man although Slimmer’s role seems a little too much. Maybe less reliance on these numerous nods would have allowed the film more breathing space. There are also some interesting cameos from the original cast. Some seem to be forced in but Dan Aykroyd’s taxi driver and Anne Potts as a receptionist. But the reboot as it stands goes for its own origin storyline instead of simply copying from the original. It’s not therefore four new cast members taking on the iconic roles (such as in the new rebooted Star Trek films) but are new characters which is good.
So despite watching it many times before I found the original 1984 film to be much better and much more enjoyable to watch. The 1984 film is also the one that I am more likely to watch again in the future but then maybe it’s just because it’s the one from my childhood. Personally I think the new film would have worked better as a continuation with a new crew being brought in to replace the 80’s team and maybe a mixed group of both sexes could have made a difference to how the film was received. However I still wouldn’t mind if this cast was brought back for a sequel as unlikely as that seems. After all the Star Trek franchise seemed to have on and off films throughout its run.
What do I think they should do differently next time? Tone down the comedy but a lot. Yeah you can still have McKinnon being out there and throw in a few moments of fun. The relationship between Gilbert and Yates was good. But get rid of all the over the top and physical comedy. I’d also have to say Kevin would have to go or his character changed a lot to be a bit more believable. It would also now have to stand on its own two feet. While it was fun with all the nods to the originals any sequel would be better off concentrating simply on its own merits. Being a Doctor Who fan I can easily compare this to the two ‘pilots’ of renewing the series. The 1996 movie contains various nods and takes time building up to the main story to establish the character of the Doctor. With the 2005 pilot Rose producer RTD does away with most of the ties to the original to start with and just establishes the new series. It worked a lot better.
The ending scene mentioning Zuul which would seem to indicate that any sequel would redo that story. Let’s hope that if a sequel does come round that they concentrate more on a good story then just setting up one comedic scene after another and trying to do fan service.
So for anyone who has read my first blog, six random facts about me, you’d have noticed that number three on that list as about my aims to get into racing somehow and that I’d been looking at the moment at the MX-5. You see when I mentioned about looking into racing to a friend of mine he suggested looking at MX-5. Followed by the announcement that he has two MX-5 cars, a mk1 and a mk2 that he would sell. He also suggested that I should look initially look at doing track days.
I quite like the idea of the mk2 as it would be fairly cheap and not need a lot of initial work but sadly on further research I found that the BR only races the mk1 and the mk3. It would also mean to make it ready for racing it would not be road legal meaning extra costs on the transport side. However the organizer of the MX-5 racing did send me a couple of tickets for the final races of the season at Donington Park so I could have a look around and talk to some of the drivers.
The event was over two days this weekend (14th and 15th October) and I had originally planned stopping over somewhere. Unfortunately most places were already booked up and I had to come back home anyway in the end.
But I did spend the Saturday at Donington Park which was my first visit to the site. Luckily the weather was really nice (very different to today as I write this I’m expecting it to tip down any minute). I’d missed the first qualifying race due to my Sat Nav still playing up. Never the less I got to see most of the other races. There was also some fiesta and Alfo Romeo races but I wasn’t really interested in watching them. This was after all a fact finding mission.
So during the breaks between MX-5 racings I had a look around the pits studying the race cars and getting some information from the drivers. The racers themselves seem like a nice community. If there was any rivalries I didn’t see it and I got the feeling that the whole thing was simply like-minded people enjoying the hobby that they were involved in.
I also realised there would be a lot of work and money involved in getting into this type of racing. Maybe not as much as some other types of racing but still costly. For example I was told that a set of tyres for the mk-3 is £450. Given that you’d probably get though a fair few tyres over a season this could mount up.
As for the car itself, well they are stripped down to the basics. In most cases its left with one seat and most of the electrics ripped out and replaced with racing parts. Then there is the roll cage on top. Maybe the thing that make me waver the most though was seeing some of the cars after a particular bad knock. One car to me seemed like a right off and I couldn’t help thinking that knowing my luck I’d write of the car within a couple of races.
So as much as I enjoyed the day and felt a bit at home it would seem my friend might be right about doing the track days. At least for now. It will give me a bit of practise going around the laps and as the car can be road worthy it would mean simply having to drive to the track. But I still will hold on to the dream of maybe being out there racing on the track one day. And I’m not even dreaming of winning. Just being part of the team and being out there would be enough for me. One day I will go back, yes one day.
So last night (22/9/17) I went to my first LGTB event. I had planned on going to Gloucester Pride earlier in the year but family commitments clashed. As it was my first time I had no idea what to expect and despite my enthusiasm to go I had reservations. The fact that it took place on a Friday and I couldn’t get the day off work meant that I would be arriving late as the event started at four. So it wasn’t until I left work at half five that I decided to change into the clothes I had brought with me and actually go. Even on the way up it was still a case of thinking that any moment I may just turn back. There was friend inviting me out for a few beers locally and having to drive to and from Worcester meant that I wouldn’t be able to drink at the show.
Never the less I carried on regardless even though my Sat Nav itself seemed by universal force trying to stop me by playing up and trying to take me to different places to the one I wanted to go. The song ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ playing on the CD as I try to reset google maps again never seemed so apt.
But I did get there eventually. Even if it did take an extra twenty minutes driving up and down a street trying to find the club. “You have reached your destination” claims my phone. “No this is someone’s house” I shout back and continue driving up and down roads. Finally the Sat Nav gives in and takes me to the right destination. I’m there, I park up in the car park. I sit there looking at the build watching various people come and go. I stay sitting there contemplating weather to go in or not.
I get a message from another friend who also lives in Worcester. She’s seen the Facebook message I’ve posted about getting lost on the way to Worcester. She wants to know what I’m doing there. I mention going to a club without going into details. I’m not ready yet. I tell her I’m not sure about actually going in or going home. She offers for me to visit if I back out, even a bed for the night. A second social invite. I’m in demand and here I am sat in my car undecided. My friend is five miles away by car. There is another problem looming. I need the loo. Really need the loo. Even if I was to take my friend up on her offer five miles is too far at this present time.
I take a deep breath and get out of the car. I make my way into the club. It’s just like a normal bar. There are a few people drinking, a couple playing pool. Some tables from the earlier events are now packing up. The show I’m here to see is in a function room next to the bar. After using the facilities I buy myself a pint and ask about tickets. I’m directed to a table by the door and I buy a wristband from the guy sat there and go in.
It’s not a packed event. There is maybe two dozen people there. I go to a table looking around as I do. Some of the guys there are really dressed up. Make up, dresses the works. They look amazing. I’m wearing gender neutral clothes, the only thing standing out on me is a pair of small double heart earrings I’m wearing. It’s good enough for me, I feel comfortable as I am.
There is a tent on one side of the room. Stood by a woman dressed only in bra, knickers and fishnet tights. A sign saying Roulette is there. £10 a go for anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes. Cuddles, Kisses, champagne and chocolate. Over the night I see a couple of guys go with her into the tent. I’ll admit I’m curious even tempted but hell I was nervous enough to come into the club, let alone into a tent with some girl no matter how cute she looks.
Either way I know the next day I’m likely to regret not going for it but also that if I did go into the tent I’ll probably regret that the next day. Life is philosophically screwed that way.
I watch the drag act on stage. It’s the main one I’ve come to see, the person is someone I know. Miss Felicia. I even get a wave when I get spotted sitting there. Miss Felicia does a couple of songs and that’s that act finished. Bloody sat Nav making me half an hour later than expected has made me miss most of the act. I’ve also missed the other act that I wanted to see. That had been on earlier. The banter from the Drag Queen who is the compere for the show is funny. The atmosphere in the room is very relaxing. Most of the people there are either acts waiting to go on stage or connected to the acts in some way so it seems a very disappointing turn out. Overall it seems very low key and the changeover between acts seems choppy. I get another drink from the bar, a soft drink this time. I enjoy the other acts that are on stage. The show goes on to eleven but I don’t plan on staying that long knowing it will take about an hour to get home. I give it until half nine then use the club’s Wi-Fi to input my route home. With regret I pry myself away and leave the club. I feel a bit gutted that I’m not staying to the end.
I race home. Luckily one I’m on the main motorway I know the way as my Sat Nav once again wants to take me off on further wild adventures indicating I should get off at every exit all the way down the motorway. I ignore it. I get home ten minutes earlier then google maps predicts. On a whim I text my mate. He’s still out so I think a few drinks are in order. We meet up and I end up having several cocktails, some shots and a short. It ends with pizza then bed. Overall it’s been a fantastic night.
But would I do it again? Going to a LGTB show I mean. Cocktails I will do every chance I get, no question about that. But yeah I would love to go to a show like that again. Hopefully the next one will be bigger and better but It was fun, it was relaxed and maybe something small like this is just what I needed to dip my toe in the water. No one gave a shit about what someone looked or dressed like. This is how life in general needs to be. I envy those people who are confident enough to get up on stage to do what they do. I envy those friends of mine that don’t care what people think and go with the style that they want. Even if I don’t like the look I’m jealous that they don’t worry about what people will think. I definitely worry too much. I look forward to Gloucester Pride next year, I’ll hope there is some other show that comes up sooner. Diversity in life is great and anything that celebrates that in such a fun way is great. Maybe one day I’ll have the confidence to go that little bit further in expressing myself. Maybe one day I’ll have the confidence to come out of that closet a bit. Maybe even the confidence to go into that tent.
So the next hero I want to talk about that has inspired me over the years is also from my childhood but has in one way or another appeared in my life throughout. That is Spiderman. I‘ve read the comics, I’ve watched many of the cartoons. There’s been the movies and when I was about eight one of the best moments of my childhood was coming home from school one day and finding a Spiderman costume on my bed. I think I ended up wearing it for two years finally growing out of it. I think it almost ended up as a Spiderman crop top. (Oh if I only knew then what I know now.) I have also read many articles (philosophical and otherwise on the character) including one assignment in Uni with regards to freedom and Responsibility. He is probably the character on this list I can write most about bar one. However I will be restricting this post to simply writing about why he is such a role model to me personally and not discussing the many philosophical and interesting aspects of the character.
So what is it about Spiderman that I look up to so much? Yes I would love his powers and the idea of swinging a round above the city. I love the scenes where Spidey is just resting against the wall as easily as some people relax in a chair. When out with friends I use to squat on the top of wall probably looking less like Spiderman and more like I was on the loo.
First there is the most famous moto associated with Spiderman which is with great powers comes great responsibility. This is a lesson that Peter Parker leans after the death of his uncle. Since then he has done everything he can to help out his fellow man. Yes there have been times when he sees his powers as a curse and on times even tried to give up being Spiderman and yet he always comes back knowing he can help mankind. It is something that seems to be ingrained into Parker’s nature. In fact there is a What If? Story where it’s not Peter that gets the Spider powers but Flash Thomson who goes on to become a criminal. Parker uses his scientific knowledge (with help from Doctor Octavius) to build a Spider like frame and defeat Spiderman, So even without his powers Parker wants to try to help people and do the right thing. As with life we too have to take responsibility for the lives we lead and for me personally this also means doing my best to help out the people in my life. This also means having to take responsibility for the mistakes that we have made in life. In one story ‘Parallel Lives Doctor Octopus rants at Spiderman blaming him for denying him a normal life and blames the world for making him suffer. In other words he fails to take responsibility for his own life. The philosopher Sartre indicates in Being and Nothingness that a man’s freedom comes from absolute responsibility. This is something I learned in Uni but could relate to due to Spiderman having been that role model for me.
The second thing that I draw from Spiderman is the fact that no matter how tough things gets he never gives up. Even when the odds are stacked against him he still finds the strength to carry on. No matter how many times he is beaten down and brought to his knees he will find a way to get back up. Either this is because he is aware of the responsibilities he has or because of the people in his life he finds a reason to rise back up. There have been many times in my life that I have felt exactly like this. Ok I May not have been physically beaten down but sometimes that is how it has felt with life beating me down. Spiderman is one of those heroes that I think of in those times that makes me get back up and try harder.
Finally he also adheres to a strict moral code and never crosses the ethical line he has set for himself. He doesn’t kill. There is of course a similarity here with the lessons I take from He-man in that there is a strong sense of right and wrong and always choosing to do the right thing. But with He-man it is more basic, whereas with Spiderman there is times he doubts himself and questions his actions but yet he still tries to do what he thinks is right even if it doesn’t always work out the best for him. So although both these role models give me a sense of right and wrong from Spiderman I also take a sense of responsibility for my actions and how I live my life. I therefore by my own sense of rules have a responsibility to try and help people. This coupled with never giving in and getting back up is why Spiderman is one of my role models.
A few years ago I was set up on a blind date by a friend of mine. We had a meal at a restaurant and my friend had provided a set of topic cards to give us things to talk about. The date was very nice, the girl was nice and although to my disappointment nothing eventually came of it I had a good time.
Anyway one of the questions was on favourite movie. In typical male fashion I answered Avengers Assemble. It had just recently been in cinemas and to be honest I really liked the movie. Hers was A beautiful Mind which I didn’t know. Well I did once she had told me about it. I had watched it in the past but had never remembered the name of it. A very thought provoking drama. It was a very sophisticated answer to the question, much more than my comic book superhero action adventure. (Personally I recommend both films and if you like A Beautiful Mind I would also recommend Shutter Island.)
Anyway this lengthy and possibly irrelevant introduction brings me onto what I now consider my favourite film which would have provided a better answer to that question had it actually been made at that stage. Boy meets Girl is a movie I accidently discovered on Netflix. I watched it about four or five times over the next few weeks until Netflix took it off. I have since watched it again through other means and I hope one day the UK gets a dvd release of this film.
The story deals with Ricky, a transgender girl. For those who wants to know I’ll outline the plot, for those who would rather try and watch it without spoilers go away, find it, watch it and if you want come back and reads this. So Ricky basically starts having an affair with a woman she has just meet called Francesca who is engaged to be married. It also deals with the relationship that she has with her long term best friend Robbie. Added in to this is the story about how she also wants to be a fashion designer and is waiting to see if she gets into a fashion school in New York. That is basically the plot and if you have read this without seeing the film then still do because this isn’t the real point to the film. It’s thought provoking and the enjoyment comes from watching the drama unfold. It deals with some of the issues that surrounds people who are transgender. Would I say that it is truly representive of how trans people are treated? Given the research I have done on the area since probably not. Ricky lives in a small town and most of the people we see in the film accept her for who she is. There is a couple of confrontations but there is nothing too treating in these. There no real high tension drama where everything is at risk but simple more of a snap shot into the life of Ricky trying to realise her dreams.
Michelle Hadley who plays Ricky is great in what is her first film role and I love the character of Ricky. She comes across as confident, funny and down to earth and hot. I’ve noticed that I’ve even adopted a bit of her style with my own clothes. Part of me wants to date her, part of me wants to be her. When I watched the film I researched the actress and discovered her you tube channel where she documents her transition. It was this channel that got her the role in this film having impressed the director. Sadly she has not been in much since but I would love to see her in other things.
There are so many scenes I like from the film that it would be impossible to pick one. Right from the beginning the film is engaging with just the interactions between the characters. To compare it with another film I like A Few Good Men. That film too is a drama and not action packed and it’s great but when I want to watch it it’s the end of the film with Cruise and Nicholas in the courtroom. That’s the great part about that film. Everything else is just a build up to that moment and once you’ve watched it and know the story you can just go to that scene and watch it. With Boy meets Girl I want to re-watch pretty much every scene from start to finish. There are some good twists along the way and the film’s final message makes it end on a very upbeat note.
So yeah I finally have a drama film as my favourite film which I can talk about the philosophical aspects and social issues of. Sure the Avengers is still a good film and yes it deals with individual egos putting aside their conflicts and working as a team to defeat the bad guy. Then it’s just an action packed finish which I suppose does allow Tony Stark to finally become less self-absorbed and nearly sacrifice himself to save the world. But my favourite moment from the movie is Hulk smashing a raging Loki like a rag doll all over the ground. “Puny God”. It’s my favourite moment because it’s funny. I can rewind the dvd and watching it again. Yep still funny. There’s nothing else to the scene. It’s just a funny moment amongst the tension of the battle. Boy meets Girl doesn’t have no big final playout. It ends on a good note, a hopeful message and a great song that made me really think about things in life. I like films and programmes that makes me question, think or even just inspire me. This film is one of those. It’s the film that made me really question my own feelings on gender and on how I want to express myself. It’s helped me in writing parts of my novel and it’s got me looking deeper into a world that I am finding fascinating and personal.
Several years ago during one of my finding myself phases I wrote a piece detailing a number of heroes that I liked to identify with. Not just simply people that I would like to be because they were cool or could get the women but those role models that had had some influence on my life and the way I now acted. In a way guides where in some situations I could ask myself what would so and so do. On that list at the time were six fictional heroes and one real life person.
The very first one on the list and indeed in my life was He-man. Here I’m talking about the original cartoon series that was shown on Children’s ITV during my childhood. I was big fan of the show. I had the sword. The best Christmas I can remember is the one where I had loads of He-man toys from various relatives and Santa himself brought me Castle Greyskull with I spent Christmas morning with my dad putting it together. Just let me wipe away this tear forming in my eye.
That’s better. Now the reason I loved this show was not only because of the action and the colourful characters. And by colourful I mean colourful as most of the characters (and figures) came in a wide range of colours. Merman was purple, Beast Man orange etc etc. Skeleton was a fantastic baddie. There was plenty of humour with the way he treated his minions and how he reacted to his constant failures. On the heroes side we had comedy with the lovable Orko especially when Man at arms was at the receiving end of one of his backfiring tricks.
No the main reason why I still loved the show later in life (getting hold of the dvds to rewatch it) is because of the positive messages that came with the show. Usually those lessons were highlighted by a small fourth wall scene at the end of each episode. Yes some of them were very basic messages like not going off with strangers and don’t play with sharp objects. But the better messages were about being a better person. Respect for others despite their beliefs, appearance or any other differences. About being morally right. Taking responsibility and not giving up and losing confidence. A full list of all the moral messages presented at the end of the episode can be found here. http://old.he-man.org/cartoon/cmotu/seriesinformation/intodaysstory.shtml
That was the good thing about He-man. He was the strongest man in the universe but really it was the fact that he always did the right thing and always tried to look for the peaceful solution. He didn’t kill or hurt people and would often rely on his intellect more than his strength to win the day. The only things he ever punched was objects and robots. His sword was never used against anyone either. He would go out of his way to rescue the bad guys when their plans got them into trouble. It was the most basic set of right and wrong with no really grey areas. In fact even when he once thought that he had accidently killed someone as He-man he gave up his power feeling he no longer had the right to be He-man. Maybe in the real world it would be hard for someone to be as ‘right’ as He-man but for a child just growing up I feel that this basic message of right and wrong gives a good working basis for someone to develop their own morals from. Here was someone who would never cross the line between good and bad. Even She-Ra his twin sister followed the same values fighting alongside a rebel alliance against the evil ruler Hordak.
For me then personally He-man represents my most basic values. My faith in right and wrong. He is the guide I would turn to if I had a moral dilemma. He also shows me that using my mind more than my physical strength is often better and to try and be none violent. When I was creating my own personal deck of Tarot cards he was also the character I was going to use for strength but not just because of his physical strength but his strength of character. He is also the one who is the strongest connection to the innocence of my childhood. Yes the cartoon looks very dated and simple now but I still have a soft spot for it. Until next time bye.