Please don’t read the cast list, it’s a memorial to wasted talent

You could watch Transformers: The Last Knight, but why would you?

I watched “TTLK” because I was exhausted on a Sunday and friends were doing a movie night. Don’t ask me why this was the chosen film. Maybe it was meant to be a Movie Knight and they’d already watched the unrelated trilogy of A Knight’s Tale, Knight and Day and Knight of Cups. Perhaps it was the fourth Knight in a fortnightly series. Whatever their justification, I would’ve preferred a frontal lobotomy so I could stop fretting over what a waste of money/time the glorified tyre fire was. I could’ve gone to sleep at 7pm instead and it would’ve been a better use of my life.

However long you think the film was, it was longer. I don’t know who decided a CGI orgy of racist robots and Mark Wahlberg running in tank tops needed to be two and a half hours, but they need to be retroactively fired. While we’re here, when did Hollywood decide that the average movie length needed to be over two hours? What was wrong with tightly scripted 90 minute films? If you’re gonna dominate viewers’ attention for that long, at least have the grace to hire a script editor. TTLK clearly didn’t. TTLK was three different movies smooshed together without trying to meld any story elements. Part National Treasure, The Matrix and Braveheart, but without any of the charisma or intriguing plot elements that made those popcorn flicks watchable. This movie has so many ideas. It’s a wonder that none of them are any good. Here are some of the plot points.

  • Firstly, Cybertron (though wasn’t it destroyed in the previous film or something?) is doing some kind of planar overlay with Earth. Mankind was in peril, etc etc. Oh, also Earth is actually Unicron, a transformer.
  • Optimus Prime goes back to Cybertron to see what the deal is. Some transformer god slaps him and he turns evil. Goes by the new moniker of Nemesis Prime (personally I would’ve gone for Pessimus Prime, but there’s a lot I would’ve done differently). Goes back to generally menace.
  • The world has outlawed Transformers. Mark Wahlberg is living in some junkyard taking care of rogue transformers. Oh, and he finds a talisman that’s talked about a bunch, but basically just gives him a sword for one scene. I think Wahlberg just had a dream about wielding a sword in front of robots and was like “hey, write this in.” Since they apparently didn’t hire a script writer, he just wrote it verbatim.
  • There’s some orphan who also fixes transformers or something? She seems like a main character, but stops mattering after the first half.
  • They spend a frustrating amount of time on Bumblebee’s voice box, which doesn’t play by its own mythology.
  • A historical professor who’s the last descendent of Merlin (oh shit, I forgot about the Merlin stuff. I’ll get back there in a minute) is used almost primarily for spinster jokes and to shoehorn in a romantic sub sub sub subplot (they’re even on a submarine at one point) into a movie about fighting robots and King Arthur.
  • Okay, Merlin stuff. Transformers coming to Earth in the first film is retconned and now they helped King Arthur in his battle against the Saxons. Magic is real, but also all the magic wielded is just technology? They kind of characteristically shat the bed on that one.
  • There’s a secret society who’ve aided the transformers throughout history. Also, transformers killed Hitler apparently. Anthony Hopkins is a direct descendant of Shia LaBeouf from the first film. He’s been given a lemon of a role and he juices it for everything he can. He also has a human sized robo butler called Cogman.
  • Megatron is back to destroy the earth. Or Unicron, whatever it is. It’s not clear why he wants to do this, but he starts working with the FBI or something to hunt down Wahlberg and his merry band.
  • There’s a whole kerfuffle about how the Merlin descendant professor is the only one who can wield this staff that’s linked to her DNA, but they sorta abandon it after Megatron steals it.

There are so many scenes in this film. 80% of them didn’t need to happen. The first hour and a half is exposition and backstory to stack up the convoluted plot elements of this CGI clusterfuck, then the last hour just does whatever it wants. There’s no payoff for any of the ideas. They’ll spend 15 minutes on a certain plot point that’ll only lead to one line before it’s dropped. Again and again. They go on unnecessary side chases that could’ve been tightened and cut. There’s no fucking point in the Nemesis Prime plotline beyond selling another toy. He doesn’t even look that different, it’s just one side of his face that turns pink.

I don’t quite understand the demographic of this film. Isn’t it a kids film? I’m no prude, but it felt a bit much for preteen audiences. I can’t help but imagine it only looks good through fratboy Monster Energy Drink coloured glasses. “Shit” is every sixth word. Characters straight up murder people. Lots of flying bodies everywhere. Robots try to outdo each other in being as edgy as possible. Much like the drunk person in an earthquake, you’d have to be borderline alcohol poisoned to make plausible sense of the plot.

I recommend this film for anyone who owns truck nuts. Or has ornamental samurai swords all over their bedroom. Maybe Al Bundy. As someone who intentionally watches poorly composed movies, I can’t in good conscience advise this as an enjoyably bad experience. Nothing about it is enjoyable. It’s not even a good hate watch, you’ll just end up hating yourself for watching it.

If Michael Bay ever dies, I don’t doubt he’ll be spinning in his grave after watching what he’s done here. Expecially because EVERY FUCKING SCENE HAS A SPINNING CAMERA. HAVE SOME FUCKING RESTRAINT.

In short, I’m saying the man should be jailed for his crimes.

Hoard is where the heart is

I’m extremely lucky that I was raised too pragmatically to be a hoarder.

I know the potential is inside of me. As a kid I practically drooled my way through Consumers Distributing catalogues. Infomercials really worked on me and I swear I still know the Aircore infomercial song. No, I’d never need to make chilli in my freezer, but at least I want the choice, goddammit. I love eclectic single use items and, if I had all the dollars and a bottomless bag of holding, I’d get each and every one. I’d single handedly keep Sky Mall afloat. It’d be like one of those fetishised shots in action movies where they pull open a hidden compartment in a closet and it’s racks on racks on racks of guns. Mine would instead be an array of dog pedometers and automatic melon ballers.

Unsurprisingly, I love thrift stores. Even if I’m not planning on buying anything, window shopping lets me imagine fantasy scenarios where I’d have a use/space for all of that junk. Sometimes when I’m feeling very perky, I’ll actually buy the object in question and bring my fantasy to life. Which is a long way of saying that I now own a Roboraptor. This thing is fucking enormous. It’s longer than the cat. It also terrifies the cat, which brings me no end of joy. I remembered how Roboraptor was the hottest Christmas toy 10-15 years ago. They used to retail for something like $140-$200 back in NZ. I bought this one for $7. At that price, I was practically losing money by not buying it. Right? RIGHT?

Okay, so after getting it, discovering that it still worked and loading it with batteries, I found out that it was missing a remote. This means I’m missing out on being able to control it, or putting it on certain modes like hunting or prowling. Still, for $7 and batteries, I got myself something neat to bring to parties. I’m, not drinking at the moment and I would’ve spent more than that on alcohol. In its basic demo mode, Roboraptor (I’ve named mine Nigel) walks around, is sound sensitive and sometimes lunges at shit. It’s cute and goofy, and pretty neat to have wandering the floor. I know this because I brought it to a space themed party last night. I figured it was appropriate as a sort of ersatz space parrot. I carried it like a toy dog and occasionally set it down and let it run rampant. It was pretty fond of running into corners and hanging out. Each to their own.

I like Nigel a lot (I know, I named it and now I’m attached). Now I’m at a crossroads. Do I pump more money into it and buy a second hand controller? Or do I keep it as is, bring it to another party or two then give it to some kid? It’s a hard call. Nigel isn’t exactly the pinnacle of robotic technology (as a 13 year old toy). I have no doubt that I’d quickly get bored of it and it’d sit on a shelf taking up space. Still, are there real opportunities to use Nigel to bring joy to various scenarios? Could it be fun camping? When I’m bored at work? If we ever end up babysitting? Could it be a great present for some young child? Depending how much use I’d get out of it, $40 could be a pretty reasonable cost for the benefits.

I wonder if Value Village would have second hand Aircores…

Straight from the top of my dome.

I’m thinking of a toy. I’ve got no idea what it was called. Some kind of rubber dome. Usually fluoro coloured, or at the very least a “cosmic” shade. The kind of thing they’d give away at Pizza Hut. You’d push the middle and turn them inside out, then place them on the ground. You’d stand there, wait. Wait. Wait. POP! Out of nowhere they’d launch into the air, surprising anyone staunchly anticipating their ascension. You’d tell yourself again and again, “I’ll be expecting it this time”. Never. Like a pop up toaster, this inanimate object had a level of calculating self awareness usually the domain of sociopaths. It would bide its time until the moment you got complacent, then ruin any sense of security you’d cultivated. They were awesome.

I’m thinking of a tree. A Christmas tree. Artificial, no more than a metre tall. Unadorned. We were a Jewish family, unorthodox, which basically meant our parents picked and chose which traditions we’d follow. We didn’t celebrate Christmas. We didn’t do presents at Hanukkah either. I say this not as a cry for me plea. We weren’t hard done by. We had abundant love and never wanted for anything we really needed. As a child I hated Christmas. Christmas was other children bragging about what Santa brought them. Finding connection in a holiday I felt isolated from. The envy I felt for their experiences eventually turned to resentment. I doubled down. Fuck Christmas and its corporate bullshit became the mantra. It’s easy to find justification if you seek it.

Still, there was this one small tree. My mother owned a second hand toy store and she’d occasionally bring things home. I asked for this tree and requested that it be put up in my room for my January birthday. I wanted to wake up in the morning, birthday present underneath the tree. It was a strange request for a Jewish family, but my parents did it. That morning was strange, mixed. There was a joy in finally discovering what I’d missed all these years. At the same time, there was an absence, a hollowness. Where was this spirit I’d seen played out in every holiday special? Wasn’t the spirit of Christmas supposed to infuse my being, resulting in goodwill for all humanity? I’m sure I got a great gift that I loved, but why wasn’t the tree lifting me up to where I expected it to?

Isn’t it odd how much power we give to objects? How we expect them to envelop us in meaning? Why don’t they confirm to our intentions? What’s with this inverse correlation between expectations and results? Furthermore, if we know we’ll crush things under the baggage of these expectations, why, time and time again, do we repeat the same patterns and expect another outcome?

Also what the fuck were those rubber dome things called? I wonder if they’re still fun…

Do you think there’s a grindcore band called Death Camp for Cutie?

I don’t know what it is about this story that’s capturing the hearts of social media denizens everywhere. Some toddler is obsessed with a personal injury lawyer and had a themed Morris Bart birthday. It’s some of the best viral marketing I’ve ever seen. I can’t stop guffawing at my computer right now. The thought of a little 2 year old being so transfixed by something that is so far out of his world-frame just doesn’t cease to be funny. What use does he of a personal injury lawyer? Kids heal quickly, they’re like mini Wolverines (character, not the small weasel beasts). Plus, on that child’s salary he’d be hard pressed to hire even an affordably priced lawyer such aa Morris Bart. This is ridiculous, I already like this Morris Bart dude and I’ve never even seen the ad (lies. I took a couple of minute and watched some on Youtube). It’s lunacy, but loveable lunacy for sure. I get it though, when you’re that age nothing’s wrapped up in a tight little bow of accessible logic. You like what you like because you do. Simple.

When I was that age I apparently had a favourite toy. It was this little soldier thing. Maybe the height of a bic clic pen (dumbest link I’ve posted?), some officer dude garbed in all black. He had a red hat and a skull and crossbones emblem on his breast. I still think it looks like a tiny SS officer. I’ve got no idea why I would’ve been drawn to it, but my parents said that as a toddler I played with it all the time. We were inseparable. So tight, in fact, that I ended up almost chewing the thing’s head off like a randy praying mantis. That’s adoration. I think my parents hid it away at that point. Or I moved on. Unsure, I wasn’t exactly cognisant then. It wasn’t until age 5 or so that my parents re-introduced me to it.

I treated it like a stranger. I had (and to this day have) no knowledge of playing with it whatsoever. It was just some weird little object that I was informed I liked. I felt affection for it because I’d been told that was a pre-existing condition, but I had no evidence in my head that spoke to the little toy’s relevance. For all I know, my parents were just fucking with me and wanted to play some bizarre social experiment. I’m not saying they were (but I’m not not saying that either, dig?), there’s still suspicion. It’s like this urban tale that goes around within a close group of my brothers, best friend and his brothers. According to the older boys (back when we were much younger. The more that I type it out it’s becoming apparent this story came from the mouths of 10 year olds), when I was a kid on some farm we all visited (?) I ate cow poop. It was something they’d all laugh about, the older boys would tease, etc. I stopped caring and I think it got old for them not getting a reaction, so it was dropped. Between my friend and I though, it was taken as gospel. As a baby, did I really chomp down on some fine cow pat? It’s all too easy to call bullshit now, but at the time their conviction gave it some verisimilitude. That previous sentence was brought to you by pretentiousness and a strong desire to drop the word “verisimilitude” in wherever I can so people will like me. DO YOU LIKE ME YET? I NEEEED YOOOUR APPROOOVAAAAL. Man, I must’ve eaten shit at some stage, cause I’m a master of talking it now.

How much of your culture do you think is founded on dumb white lies and stories people have fed you? Did you parents actually tell you anything true about their upbringing? Or did they instead tell you the synopsis of Jingle all the Way with a few names changed? Man, if it wasn’t for the prevalence of social media and digital record keeping, you could just make up shit to your kids and have them believe anything. I want a 5 year old who believes they once jumped 2 metres vertically, just to see them repeatedly try.

For the millionth time, maybe it’s socially irresponsible for me to consider having kids.

More like a headphone jack-off.

Welp, looks like I’ve got another pair of Koss PortaPros to add to the graveyard or toss into the fires of Mordor. Why do I keep going back to that well? Alls I want is a nice pair of headphones to get to know. Take home with me, go out a bit. Maybe some light jogging. They can tell me stories or sing to me on the subway. I’ll treat them nicely and give them all the love, care and attention they deserve. I just don’t think I’ve met the right pair yet.

Getting a nice set of headphones is amazing. Suddenly music sounds different, better, clearer. New parts of songs drift to the surface that you never noticed. It changes everything and brings out an enthusiasm in you that you weren’t aware of. I’ve been through a ton and they all leave me the same way: The left channel of audio cuts out. At first it wavers, you’re able to hear it if you jiggle it in just the right way. Then it just cuts and it’s lost to the void. I’ve never found a solution that works for me. It’s strange that the same thing keeps happening regardless of headphone make or model. I wonder if there’s a commonality.

*** One quick Google (verb) later ***

Right. It’s so simple. I’ve been folding my headphone wire incorrectly. That’s it. One small action and it’s been ruining pair after pair. I can’t believe the hundreds of dollars I could’ve saved if I just knew how to fold a wire. Silly silly man I am. I guess the next step is seeing if I can find somewhere in Toronto that can repair the broken models I have lying around in my drawers. Then once they’re repaired, implore the repair person to teach me how to dougie. After that I can ask them how to fold the wire so I can listen to Teach Me How To Dougie with my new-found knowledge of how to dougie. Presto: I’m better than I was. That’s what we call character progression.

Strange, but I wonder how many simple things I’m doing wrong. If not wrong, then sub-optimally. To think that there’s a fix that could’ve saved me so much trouble and angst (seriously, nothing gets makes me furious quite like sudden audio drop outs. I’m not an angry person, but if a cd skips or amps die out, I hulk up big time) is jarring in a sense. It’s like there are so many paths around frustration that I could’ve taken if only I’d been looking out for them. Will the rest of my life merely be a shrine to lifehacker (on a related note, I hadn’t been to that site in years. Geez, when did it become a large “daily deal” repository)?

Dear Internet. Thank you for showing me the folly of my ways. I bow to your superior robot intellect and vow to be compliant when the inevitable singularity arrives.
Much love.
-Leon

P.S. If I’m good, can I get a nifty Daft Punk helmet for my fealty?

Appopleptic with choice.

Well it looks like I’ve finally joined the land of the tech savvy. I gots mahself a new telemaphone. When I say “new” I mean nigh year old, but closer to the modern standard than my previous old chunk o’ mini computer. Will it stand the test of time against my inimitable Samsung Galaxy S2? Of course not, because as my first real smartphone I built it up as the stuff of legends. As it stands though, this thing has more ram and faster data capabilities. The Moto G LTE. It’s a budget phone with decent specs, enough to run what I need amply. Considering my current uses of a smartphone are texting, Gmail, Facebook, note writing, maps and flashlight, my old one probably would’ve been fine if it processed at a speedier than snail’s pace. Taking 13 seconds to load a text app was sub optimal. Instant speed is much more my style.

Of course starting with a new device is never as simple as running it straight out of the box. Motorola has some new great app called Motorola Migrate that can at least push over your data from the old to new device. It means you don’t need to fuck around figuring out how to back up texts and contacts, instead it imports them directly. Mega fancy, mega handy. Fancy handy? Fandy? Hancy? Quick. Quicker than it took me to settle on a decent portmanteau anyway. Even with this function, I’m still some ways behind running my phone as I like it. So many apps to download just to reach the state of equilibrium I’d found with my old device. Of course the old theme I had isn’t available, so I need to find something else minimalist that facilitates smooth operation. Is a theme that important? Not really, but I need to find something that doesn’t piss me off to look at. Harder than you’d think.

Then there’s all the customisation I’m used to. Swiftkey needs to be personalised, I need swipepad set up to give me access to apps on the fly. What weather app will I go for? Can this phone actually use widgets without breaking in two? Maybe that’s worth exploring. You forget half the apps you use on a regular basis and now with a potential 8 gigs of internal storage (as opposed to 1) I can have more than 10 non-default apps installed. Oh frabjous day! So off I go to find just how identical I can make my operation to my previous habits, before expanding into new areas.

Just what can I do with this new toy? The last one had zero battery life, which cut down on any location services/GPS shenanigans. Does this mean I can create location based settings? Silent at work/gym, but active at home? Data while away from home, but instantly switching to wifi when I arrive back (without leaving the thing searching for wifi spots all day)? With a rip roaring battery life, can I actually leave the brightness off the bare minimum, enabling me to see in sunlight without squinting and creating shade with my hand? Google recognises Australian as a language. Maybe it’ll even be able to understand my Kiwi tongue. Does this mean I can talk to my phone like any old streetcar asshole? I can re-enact my favourite social disengagement scene from Her. Dreams are coming true, dudes and dudettes.

Truth be told, I don’t even know what a phone is capable of now. I’m gonna need to farm for app suggestions to enrich my life in every single unnecessary fashion. I don’t know that it’s gonna make me scramble for constant selfies, but I may be able to find movie times and addresses in less than 10 minutes. That’s some serious upgrade to my existence. I’m basically a cyborg now with a detachable adjuvant brain. I am the future, just with a phone from a year in the past. TIME TRAVEL IS REAL. I’M LIVING IT. I mean, we’re all living it, we’re just travelling through it in perpetual constant motion. But that’s not nearly as fun, right? So really guys, what time travel app has the highest Play Store rating?

Evanescence ironically haven’t disappeared yet. Unfortunately.

In trying to exit an exceedingly enjoyable conversation (so I could do this and get some small modicum of rest), I became determined to have the last word. My conversation partner agreed to give me the last word, but only if it was pleasing enough to end on, to pay respect to the dialogue we’d just shared. It took a while to find the word to end on, but a few good ones came up. Since words are pretty much my favourite things, I’m just gonna talk about some.

Defenestration

Defenestration I believe is the act of throwing someone or something out a window. I thought I’d come up with that definition all on my lonesome, but looked it up on Wikipedia only to find an identical definition staring back. Either Wikipedia and I came up with it in some kind of parallel evolution, or else I’ve read it so many times from there that it’s just embedded in my head. Like that Keanu Reeves movie Johnny Mnemonic (which I now realise is basically using someone as cloud storage). Defenestration is a marvellous word simply because specificity has a hilarity to it. There’s little that’s more comical than being precisely explicit to an absurd degree. Hence having a word specifically for things being outwardly projected through windows. Because Throw it Out the Window needed a more concise, polysyllabic name. As do all children’s songs. Also, isn’t 99 bottles of beer on the wall just an ode to alcoholism? Moving on.

Queef

Okay. Queefs are hilarious and fantastic. Guys, humans are weird as shit. I heard it said the other day that we’re basically ghosts possessing sacks of meat held together by a stack of bones. We’re absurd. In line with being absurd, our bodies do weird and wonderful things. Get over it. We fart, piss, puke, laugh cry and cum. Shit happens. Literally. Queefs are part of that, and for that reason they’re part of what defines us as human. You never expect a queef, but just because they’re surprising, that doesn’t mean they’re frightening. Guys (and I’m primarily addressing guys here, though if there are other gender orientations that also find this applicable, rock on), if you’re having sex with a gal and she queefs, if you find that to be a turn off, you don’t deserve to be having sex. I’d say fuck you, but more like no fucking for you. You’re already fucked. Don’t shame someone for being fallibly human, just laugh with them and keep on going. Or pull out and never set dick inside a vagina again. You fuck.

Spoonerism

I was really just trying to be clever here, but I’m no good with these. This site is much better. Fave hun.

Insouciance

A casual or cool indifference to something. Nonchalance would be another excellent way to say this. The thing I like about both words is how apt they sound. “Insoosianse”. Doesn’t that just have a great mouth feel? I find it hard to be insouciant about it.

Munted

Greeeat Kiwi slang. Basically broken or ruined. Objects can be munted “Your car’s munted bro”, things can be munted “non-consentual sex? That’s munted as bro” or people can be munted “You’ve had too much to drink, you’re munted bro”. According to my usage, this only happens within siblings. Usually the male is at fault. It’s a great term that needs to travel further. If I may speak so frankly, the fact that it hasn’t is kind of munted.

Tintinnabulum

I stumbled upon this word typing “tintinnabulation”. It’s a small wind chime that’s usually attacked to a small bronze figure with a massive penis. This massive penis apparently was thought to ward off the evil eye and offer prosperity. This is my new pick-up line. Also just look at the thing. Bell phallus? More like “bellus”.

Shalom

It’s not often I pull out my Jewish roots (also a Kiwi slang term meaning “fucking”), but this word means hello, goodbye and peace all in one. It’s like one of those triple form Transformers (I had this one), which were amazing. If all Jews were Transformers I’d have a lot more Jewish pride. Which sounds like a tribe of Jewish lions. My name means lion, maybe I’m actually a robot in disguise.

Rad

I wanted to bring back the word “radical” for ages. I did. I still would, but I think I’ve come to peace with the fact that it most probably won’t happen. I can live with this. Rad, however, entirely has. I say rad all the time. It started off in jest. I’d say it mockingly or sarcastically, but then somewhere along the line that sarcasm did a 180° turn to sincerity. I think things are fucking rad and I mean it. Especially words, words are fucking rad. Which is where I’ll leave you with my final parting word…

Evanesce.