Tag: Battleship

Day 994: The Game Of Milton Bradley’s Life

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I confess: I am but one week away from commemorating my 40th year on this planet, and I have yet to ever play The Game of Life. This is not due to some ethical or existential objection to simulating the course of one’s existence upon a square slab of cardboard, but rather due to my friends and I having spent our youthful recreation time with Star Wars toys and kindly ol’ Super Mario. I never got around to playing Candyland either.

As beloved as this board game may be, with its plastic minivans, its cruel cash-drains and generous paydays, buried deep within its roots is a transformative story. The original version of the game, concocted by Mr. Milton Bradley himself, elevated the concept of gaming from prescriptive quests for moral elevation to a more practical and modernized measure of success. More importantly, it came packaged with choice.

The Game of Life as we know it (well, as you probably know it, since I’ve never played the thing) features one early decision: go to school or get a job. After that, each soul is subjected to the whim of the spiteful spinner, suggesting that life is but a cavalcade of random collisions, and that we are always at the mercy of the fickle flick of fate. Mr. Bradley’s outlook on destiny was far more empowering.

Milton Bradley, 1860s

Tracing the Bradley lineage would suggest that a rather dreary definition of “life” could have taken center-stage in his outlook. The family tree was planted in America in 1635, and since then its bark shows the hatchet-marks of murder, Indian attack, kidnapping, and at one point hot embers being poured into an infant’s mouth. When Milton finally squeezed his way onto the planet in 1836, the Bradleys were a little less prone to being butchered, but far from being economic titans. Read more…

Day 914: Retching At The Wretched – Worst Films Part 7

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There are certain cinephiles – and I’m proud to call myself one of them – who take pleasure in the savory low-hanging fruit known as bad movies. This is my seventh (and most likely final) installment in my Worst Movies series, and I believe it to be an opportune moment to discuss the semantic differences between a bad movie and a shitty movie. A bad movie invites an unintentioned hilarity. A bad movie accidentally reveals the fishing line holding up the rocket ship, spills an unlikely twelve gallons of blood from a victim’s abdomen or demonstrates an extraordinary aptitude for stilted, unnatural dialogue.

A shitty movie either sets out to be a shitty movie from the start, or else it has no pretentions whatsoever. Making a bad movie on purpose will inevitably result in a shitty movie. Take a gander at the insufferable (but sincere) madness of Manos: The Hands of Fate, an exercise in bungled horror, then sit through last year’s Sharknado. Yes, the latter is bad. But it knows it’s bad.

Sharknado, and indeed the bulk of films released by The Asylum, a film studio that specializes in ‘mockbusters’ and monster movies that pay an almost Mystery Science Theater-esque tribute to the monster flicks of the 50s and 60s, are shitty movies. It’s hard to find enjoyment in sitting with friends and making derisive jokes about these flicks when the creators, cast and crew of the films have probably already made the same jokes.

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The mockbusters genre began with movies that would almost certainly fit more snugly into the ‘bad’ category than the ‘shitty’ one. Unlike the modern direct-to-cable excursions into over-the-topsville, mockbusters were legitimate attempts to ride someone else’s box office coattails into a modest profit. When The Creature From The Black Lagoon became the go-to monster epic of 1954, a couple of contract employees at Universal – one of whom was Jack Kevan, the guy who had designed the aforementioned Creature’s costume – decided to produce a knock-off called The Monster of Piedras Blancas. Read more…

Day 540: Be A Hip Cat, Be A Ship’s Cat, Somewhere, Anywhere

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I try not to pay close attention to how many sets of eyes look at my site every day. Sure, WordPress keeps track of that, and sometimes it’s interesting when a particular article causes a spike of interest, but for the most part I choose my topics based on what interests me.

Still, there are ways of attracting web traffic without sacrificing my desire for a good story. First off, there’s porn. I could write a good history of pornography, pepper it with photos of dinks and butts and boobs akimbo, but I have kids who read this site. I don’t want to trash my PG-13 rating, at least not until I hit day 950 or so. Then shit might get real.

The other sure-fire internet draw is cats. Cats are all over the damn web, like snot on a kindergarten class door handle. As a life-long dog person, I have learned to accept this. Besides, some cats are deserving of their fame. Like the great ship’s cats of history.

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Cats have been keeping humans company for the better part of 9500 years, and from the time the first ships dipped their curious wooden hulls into the waiting brine of nautical exploration, a feline presence was perpetually seen as a welcome thing. They kept the rats at bay, caught birds along the shore, and even spread themselves around the globe, populating newly discovered ports and just generally rubbing up against stuff. Read more…

Day 377: My Story Pitches For The Upcoming Hungry Hungry Hippos Movie

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Back in October, a news item plopped onto my desk like a sack of wet rubber thimbles. Perhaps you remember it. Hasbro, the toy company behind Nerf, Play-Doh and Catchphrase, announced that their film division, which runs out of a tiny yet surprisingly whimsical windowless office on the Universal Pictures lot, would be following up the immense lack of success from last year’s Battleship film with a new three-picture deal.

This seems right. And it makes fiscal sense – my comment on the film’s “lack of success” was actually a bit off. Sure, the budget was $209 million and the domestic take was a paltry $65 million, but this flick was huge overseas, bringing the total worldwide gross up well over $300 million. Why not give Hasbro the keys to a new trio of blockbusters?

And the products they chose to spin into celluloid? Action Man, a British version of G.I. Joe (already another successful franchise), Monopoly (okay, Wall Street with Atlantic City real estate), and Hungry Hungry Hippos.

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No, I’m not making that up. A game whose skill and strategy level reach no further than slamming one’s hand down repeatedly on a plastic lever is getting green-lit for a major world-wide theatrical release, whilst my screenplay about an alcoholic mime who communicates with a wise but heart-broken snail named Plook sits on the shelf. Read more…

Day 227: The Hasbro Conspiracy

On the surface, Hasbro brings joy and smiles to hundreds of billions of people every second by giving Shortcake to our Strawberry, Action to our Figures, Ladders to our Chutes, and Head to our Mr. Potato. But underneath lies something more insidious, more… well, I don’t want to say evil, because then they’ll come after me. But it’s entirely possible they are evil.

First off, look at their name. Founded by Henry and Helal Hassenfeld, the company was originally called Hassenfeld Brothers. Look at all those H’s – and we all know that ‘H’ is the most decidedly evil letter in the alphabet (I’m looking at you, Howard Hesseman).

Oh God. I think he heard me.

But there’s more. Did they get the name ‘Hasbro’ as an abbreviation of Hassenfeld Brothers, or because the company was originally located in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey? More ‘H’s. I’m telling you, this is a conspiracy.

They transitioned from selling textiles to producing pencils and school supplies, then to toys. The Hassenfeld Brothers decided they wanted to own the spirit of every American child. They aimed to invade their young minds through the Fun Cortex, which is located right beside the tiny part of the brain that remembers the lyrics to old Doobie Brothers songs.

Also known as the ChinaGroveocampus.

In 1952, the Hassenfeld Brothers bought the rights to Mr. Potato Head from its inventor, George Lerner. All George got in return was fifty cents and a half-empty fifth of cheap gin (probably). Lerner, despondent and depressed, later took the lives of more than a dozen civilians when he flew a hijacked blimp into a busy frozen yogurt store.

Sometimes it’s easier to just make this stuff up. Research is for the weak.

Read more…