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Month: August 2016

Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2016: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

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A Journey into Madness

When considering Hunter S. Thompson, one always considers Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The novel is a powerhouse of hilarity, absurdity, and political observations. Thompson holds no punches, deftly sewing in a story of rape, smuggling a ridiculous amount of drugs across state lines, and crafting a story that is both captivating and humorous.

A Trip in Itself

Thompson’s prose is mind-bogglingly hard to follow. This style does well to match Raoul Duke’s drugged-up state. Duke, Thompson’s character in the book, is rarely sober, and the implication is that the world around him is too awful to enjoy sober. To this end, he consumes ridiculous amounts of mescaline, marijuana, amyl nitrates, and acid without going totally insane. While describing his drug use, Thompson makes some hilarious observations, such as:

I tend to sweat heavily in warm climates. My blood is too thick. My clothes are soaking wet from dawn to dusk. This worried me at first, but when I went to a doctor and described my normal daily intake of booze, drugs and poison he told me to come back when the sweating stopped.

He also uses moments of clarity to tell the reason he is allegedly in Las Vegas: to find the American Dream.
What Thompson sets up is that if the American Dream can only be found in Las Vegas, at the bottom of a well of more drugs than any human can consume, is that the American Dream has become so vague and blurry it is now unattainable.

A Summary of Insanity

Duke and his attorney then go on another trip to Vegas where police, prosecutors, and other legal folks are meeting to discuss the drug scene. In this moment, Duke gives a candid review of anti-drug propaganda, hilariously poorly done and ill-informed. Duke shows that the people in charge of maintaining the laws have no understanding of the real world culture, and thus, they cannot completely be able to police the drug culture.

A Method to Madness

Fear and Loathing, released decades ago in another world, is a timeless piece that is humorous, raw, shocking, and gritty. Thompson, as a great writer, has created a story that applies to generations regardless of when they pick up the book. The story is one that gives a glimpse, albeit exaggerated, into the periphery of human society. It is easy to get immersed into the story and feel like you are in the back seat of the Great Red Shark or White Whale, praying for safety.

Final Score: 5 out of 5

After finishing Fear and Loathing, I can finally feel a sense of relief. The ride has ended.
FearandLoathing

Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2016: Life of the Party – Stories of a Perpetual Man Child

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I Am The Machine

Bert Kreischer is a stand-up comedian and television host who proves living vicariously through someone else can be really damn entertaining. For example, here’s a story of how he robbed a Russian train. It was part of the book, but I think hearing it helps a lot because it is the exact tone I imagined when I read the book.

As becomes apparent in this book, Bert Kreischer is a guy who developed success, solely because he is a put-together train wreck. He is the basis of Van Wilder after Rolling Stone called him the biggest party animal in the US, and he used this bump in status to climb the entertainment industry.

Egotistical Humility

What’s fascinating is that Bert manages to brag about his success, throw it in the face of a real writer (a teacher from school who was pissed Bert got a book contract based on the fact he couldn’t adult at all while the professor had worked for years to get the same), and still comes out as an endearing character. Bert, despite all his massive flaws, ends the book as a likable sweet person. While telling your life in the form of stories, you are essentially creating a detached caricature of yourself with a lot of exaggerations and bombastic qualities that may not be there.

Growing While Partying

The book ends on a really redeeming high note: Bert talking about a surgery with his daughter. It was the most real look into him as a person and father, where he was forced to put his daughter under anesthesia to have her undergo painful jaw surgery. In recovery, he meets a celebrity, casually and emphatically dropping their name, as Bert likes to do, but the story itself was more important. It shows him, despite the mountains of self-deprecating humor, as a person who has grown up and realized he has responsibilities outside of his fun, and he embraces both personas like they are nothing.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5

And that’s where the book of a stand-up party animal ends: as a journey from attention-starved childhood to the balanced responsibility of adulthood. It’s a fascinating and humorous read that flies by.
LifeoftheParty

Movie Review: Suicide Squad, or an exercise in masochism.

Suicide Squad debuted this weekend, and I, despite all logic, went see it.

Suicide Squad is the least enjoyable time I’ve had in a movie in a while. Movies like Warcraft left me bored, and sleeping, but Suicide Squad was like a constant state of pulling me along with the hope that something important and interesting will happen.
Sadly, that never happened.

The “Plot”

The movie starts off with this government type who suggests creating a group of bad people to do good things. Literally a line from the movie. Her need for this is that since Superman is dead, we need a replacement group to prevent the next super man from holding the world hostage. This decision seems super odd since we do live in a world where Batman still exists, and Wonder Woman is now a known thing.
Oddly enough, she picks random villains in prison to do this. The two stars are Deadshot, played by Will Smith, and Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie. The two characters get the most attention, and characterization, of the entire film. The film’s main villain the Enchantress is given a short, stilted introduction and used to show the power this group has by stealing weapons plans from Iran. The issue is she’s the only one who has close to the power to do this. Literally no one in the Suicide Squad other the El Diablo is special in the same way she is. It’s never actually made clear what this group of villains would do against another, evil Superman.
Predictably, shit goes awry when Enchantress decides to bolt.

What Characters?

Therein lines the first problem. Everyone in the Suicide Squad is special in terms of comparison to other people, except Harley Quinn. She’s just crazy and in love with the Joker.
We see her transform from Dr. Harleen Quinzel into the Joker’s love interest in the form of flashbacks, which is the majority of the movies exposition: they just show the characters past lives before Batman or someone else arrested them.
The movie is getting renowned criticism, and it definitely isn’t unjustified. I couldn’t not hear it. So, I went in with low expectations, and somehow, the movie still broke them.
The pacing is atrocious, the characterization is a joke other than Harley and Deadshot, and the actual plot is just needless.

Why So Serious?

Jared Leto’s Joker was a crime against art. It felt like he, an Oscar winner, was playing a gangster who admired The Joker instead of the Clown Prince of Crime. He has none of the humor of The Joker, none of the character, and none of the weight of the Joker. He was just a silly looking person with nothing scary or crazy. Worst still, they make him totally separate from the rest of the Squad, only sharing screen time with Harley ever, and he does some really non-Joker stuff. He dives into acid, which bleaches Harley’s skin and hair while doing nothing to him, because he’s utterly in love with her, which isn’t the Joker. The Joker was incapable of emotions like love. He used Harley’s attraction and love to get his ends, and if it bored him, he’d throw her aside.
It was little changes like this, and his shitty laughing face tattoo that he uses often to appear like he is smiling. It dawned on me the Joker actually rarely smiled in this film. He does this really odd, stilted laugh that is totally mirthless, which again, isn’t the Joker. There’s a cameo in the film wherein Batman appears, says nothing, and he feels more Batman than the Joker did despite the fact he was a major driver. The only weird Batman spot was when Bruce Wayne, during the end credits, tells Amanda Waller, played embarrassingly by Viola Davis, to “shut it down,” and his “friends will take care of it.” Ben Affleck could not have been a worse actor if he tried. It was a bizarrely poor scene overall, ending a mess of  a movie in a disappointing way.

Decisions: Do Not See in Theaters

It’s a movie that will likely be forgotten in years. It was boring, pointless, and insulting to the audience. There isn’t anything rewarding for the audience in any way, and it isn’t even so bad it’s good. It’s just bad. Maybe at home the movie would be a lot more fun, where you can walk around and get a break from the nearly constant mediocrity, but it’s an experience I have no interest in testing. Fans of the characters and people who already wanted to like this movie will. The reactions show that there is a small group who love it. Power to them. I am not in that group. I was just disappointed.

1/5

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