Miller talks “Thoughts on Earth’s most Mightiest Heroes: The Avengers”

© Marvel Comics

It’s best not to think too much about The Avengers and just enjoy it. However, if you do start mulling the Marvel movie melange of mighty men and woman, try to think back to the early nineties. The late eighties/ early nineties was a heyday of comic book glory. Chris Claremont was writing X-Men and X-Men spinoffs. Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, and [that bastard] Rob Liefeld were wowing us with highly stylized versions of our favorite characters. Infinity Gauntlets were being formed, Atlantis was attacking, and there were Acts of Vengeance being carried out. It was the dawning of the Age of Apocalypse. We were young, hungry, and eagerly anticipating every new issue as they sold in record numbers.

© Marvel Comics

But alas, where were our young minds to turn for such quality entertainment and stimulation outside of the comic page? On TV we could satiate our rabid desire with “X-Men: The Animated Series,” but if we wanted a super hero fix on the big screen we were stuck with DC, and let’s be honest DC just isn’t Marvel. I’m not knocking Tim Burton’s “Batman.” It is an underrated classic that changed super hero movies forever, but it just wasn’t Marvel. We needed Spiderman. We needed Wolverine. We needed Steve frickin’ Rogers on the big screen and quite honestly, the handful of Marvel movies made by that point were wretched. If you did convince your Mom to rent that one dusty VHS of the Captain America movie that starred J.D. Salinger’s son, you were kindly rewinding that sucker just feeling ashamed for ever having loved Cap to begin with. It was a sad state of affairs.
So, we gave up. We grew up. We drank our first beers, tried smoking, got laid (Well, some of us anyway. I almost forgot what website I was writing this for). We stopped worrying about Wolverine on the big screen and started worrying about college, and how to make a gravity bong. Then it happened. Out of nowhere somebody turned a third tier Marvel character into a hit action movie and even though it wasn’t Spidey or Daredevil it was still a Marvel character and it was actually a decent movie. Blade, who’d a thunk it, right?
Next, came the mind-blowing cinemagasm of Bryan Singer glory called X-Men and everything just got awesome. Sure, you were at least 20, but don’t you see? Our generation never grew up for a reason. Those dum dum baby boomers came back from Nam with one mission left, coddle the crap out of your children and trip balls until you design the coolest toys, cartoons, comics, and video games the world has ever known. They still make our toys. Transformers, Care Bears, Star Wars action figures, and 80’s style G.I. Joe are still rocking the toy shelves, because they were the apex of childhood indulgence. Our generation of men keep reading comics, watching cartoons, and playing video games on our parents’ basement couches because the generation before us perfected the art of spoiling their kids, and thank the heavens for that.
Our development was just arrested enough for us to enjoy the crap out of Sam Raimi’s Spiderman, Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, Bryan Singer’s X-Men, Kenneth Brannagh’s Thor, and now Joss Whedon’s Avengers. Marvel and whatever studios they are affiliated with decided to hire REAL film makers who brought us “Evil Dead,” “Swingers,” “The Usual Suspects,” a bunch of Shakespeare movies, and “Firefly” to make real good movies using what we already knew were real good characters and real good stories.

© Marvel Comics

Sure, Ang Lee’s Hulk movie was a misfire, but he bounced back with a couple of amorous cowboys and Mark Ruffalo is a great Bruce Banner. No harm no foul. Even the steaming pile that was the Daredevil movie was just a speed-bump to what is now paying off as the investment in entertainment magic beans called comic books of the late eighties and nineties that paid off with at least five genius superhero movies in the aughts and teens.
Avengers is a really fun movie, but even if you don’t like it (and you are a sad little person if you don’t), just think back to those days of the super hero cinema depression and kick yourself for not realizing just how lucky you are.
 Miller still has his entire comic book collection from when he was an 8 year bifocal sporting youngster. That was over 70 years ago. If he’d sold them 15 years ago, he could of retired a rich man. Instead, he held onto them like a scrooge. With the comic book boom well behind us, those same comics are practically worthless. Instead of retiring rich, fat and happy.. he writes for us.
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Miller talks “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl”

words by Miller

The funny thing about racism is… I’m gonna stop right there. The end of that sentence has come from many different perspectives over the years. Somewhat recently, people like Chris Rock, Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, and Tina Fey have finished that sentence to the delight of comedy nerds everywhere. Other comedians and comediennes of the less talented variety have simply disguised racism as humor or based their entire acts off of tired stereotypes to get cheap laughs off of stupid people.

Really talented people are aware that the end of that sentence has changed over the years and it changes all of the time. Racism has probably existed for as long as people of varying skin colors have interacted, and it will probably exist in one form or another for as long as people feel like they need an excuse to feel superior to each other. However, as long as it is around, it will also be kinda funny sometimes, too. Perceptive comedians and comediennes are able to poke fun, not just at racism in general but at the particular racism that exists in their world.
Issa Rae is one of those talented people who can identify that particular racism that exists in the world around her and make fun of it in a way that is intelligent, perceptive, and hilarious. However, to say that her brilliant web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” is about racism would be about as accurate as calling the Bible a book about the Middle East.
“The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” (or “ABG”) is a series of 12 episodes (and hopefully more to come) about a young woman named J (Rae), in Los Angeles, who works with a bunch of weirdos and just can’t seem to make it through the day without a few uncomfortable situations and moments that border on bizarre. Basically, it is just like your life, but possibly through the eyes of someone younger, funnier, and of a different race and gender than you. J has a few allies and a few enemies, but mostly her life is just filled with people who make her feel out of place no matter where she goes.
J has an awful job, a painful awkwardness about her, limited skills as a gangsta rapper, and a crush on two boys. One of the boys is black an one of the boys is white, but they are both nice guys who really seem to like her in spite of how awkward she happens to be while she is with them. The black guy, Fred, is a guitar playing coworker who drives J’s nemesis (and boss) Nina mad with jealousy every time he looks J’s way. The white guy, White Jay, is a friend of Fred who J awkwardly meets at a party and begins socializing with to varying degrees of success.
Although the love triangle storyline is nothing new, ABG takes a fresh approach by almost making it impossible to believe that these three people could accomplish any social goal, especially one as complicated as forming a relationship. White Jay takes J to meet Donald Glover (the rapper/comedy genius who stars on “Community” and used to write for “30 Rock”) and tells Glover how he thinks that Donald’s father Danny is such a great actor. Fred spends half the series trying to escape from the clutches of the jealous and possessive Nina while J falls all over herself trying to get him to notice her.
The first few episodes are so glaringly low budget that one might be a little put off, but they are essential (much like the less funny first season of “Parks and Recreation”) in establishing the characters who will make you convulse with laughter by the 5th or 6th episode. You might want to catch this show now before it becomes even more successful and Issa Rae becomes world renowned as a writer and an actress. This show is why the internet is awesome. Catch all 12 episodes on YouTube or on the ABG website so maybe you can find out what the funny thing about racism is too.
Check episodes here!
When Miller isn’t sporting a Windsor and yelling “Objection your Honor, my client doesn’t WEAR underwear..”, he’s stretching out his sweat pants in the luxury of his living room to write down words for your mind grapes. Until next time.

Music Review – Snoop Dog and Whiz Khalifa

words by Miller

 

Snoop Dogg is FORTY!

Yeah, that’s right, forty years old. That is probably older than most of your teachers were when you thought that they were old, out of touch nerds. That is older than your parents were when they told you that you shouldn’t smoke weed and listen to Snoop Dogg. You aren’t supposed to trust anyone over thirty. Statistically, Snoop Dogg is closer to a natural death from old age than he is from birth. Middle age was the case that they gave me.

So, what is middle aged Snoop Dogg up to these days? If you get a chance to listen to his collaboration with 24 year old Wiz Khalifa, the soundtrack to “Mac & Devin Go to High School,” you’ll discover that mature Mr. Dogg is smoking fields of marijuana and letting fools know what’s up.

This is the soundtrack to a movie ostensibly about education (I’ll be honest, I’m never gonna see this movie) but there is nothing really educational here, unless you are majoring in horticulture or botany. This album is all about the ganja. Snoop Dogg smokes weed. Wiz Khalifa smokes weed. Guests Juicy J., Bruno Mars, Curren$y, and Mike Posner smoke weed. It is just one long musical Jamaican shower.

“So what we get drunk? So what we smoke weed? We’re just having fun.” Yeah, that’s pretty much what this music is all about and maybe that is okay. Wiz Khalifa is lyrically adept, but with the gravitas of a character from “Toy Story 2.” Snoop comes from a time in hip-hop where every rapper had to either shoot people or pretend that they were capable of shooting people. Yet, the middle aged Snoop is kinda past all of that nonsense. Wiz doesn’t really exist in that world and thank God for that.

Modern rappers are transcending some of the machismo posturing that made some untalented people famous and made some unbelievably talented people dead in the nineties. The gangsta dynamic is alive and well, but it is not as essential to selling records in the suburbs as it was when Snoop Dogg was in his twenties. These days, if a rapper wants to record an entire movie soundtrack and only talk about getting stoned then he can do that.

I never really understood, or appreciated the combination of being stoned and shooting people. Getting high is an inherently peaceful endeavor. Being shot must be a pretty horrendous experience, but especially if you’re baked. I’m glad that the rappers are separating those two experiences from each other. Gunshot wounds are probably horrible buzz kills.

The modern crop of hip-hop superstars like Lil Wayne, Kanye West, and that Canadian dude – that may or may not have been confined to a wheelchair as a teen – are more about the riches and the bitches than the nines and the AKs, and that is probably for the best. Wiz Khalifa leans more towards that camp than Snoop’s former thuggier associates. However, it is pretty cool that old man Broadus can still keep up with youngsters. His swagger is fully intact on these party songs and their collaboration is mutually beneficial. Snoop provides a little credibility and Wiz inspires a youthful playfulness in Snoop’s flow.

This is good stuff. However, it is pretty forgettable. If somebody popped this disc in at a party I would really enjoy it, but it isn’t something that I would search out. I guess that if I still got high, it would be my favorite, but that isn’t something that I do anymore. Maybe when I’m Snoop Dogg’s age I’ll pick the habit back up.

 

When Miller isn’t sitting in America’s courtrooms fighting for the rights of our troubled youth, he’s crack’n wise on this blog with “useful” information about “necessary” distractions.

Best movies/tv/music of 2011

We don’t need no stink’n top 10 when we have a top 5 “Best of 2011” List. Top 5 Music, Movies and TV shows of the year, in Miller’s humble opinion.

Best of 2011 by Miller

MUSIC

 1. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’

This album is a throwback to a time that never existed. The former Tony! Toni! Tone! singer has gone from new jack swinger to 60’s sounding soul man, and to quote his former band’s biggest smash, “It Feels Good.” Stone Rollin’ is one good song after another. Saadiq makes retro sounds, but he does it in a way that is all new. Art appreciation is subjective, but this album is objectively awesome.

2. Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest

I love country music. That is just who I am and it ain’t never gonna change. Gillian Welch is one of the greatest country music singers alive today and “The Harrow & The Harvest” gives her a chance to showcase her talents. These songs sound as if they could have been written at the turn of the last century, but they make sense in the present as well.

3. Destroyer – Kaputt

So, Destroyer’s frontman, Dan Bejar (also a member of The New Pornographers), must have been REALLY into Al Stewart. “Kaputt” is an album that saunters and slithers into your eardrums and gently massages your heart and mind. I’m trying to sound like a guy who would wear a white linen shirt unbuttoned to his navel with a gold chain. “Kaputt” could truly be appreciated by a guy like that, and pretty much everyone else worth a damn.

4. The Train Wrecks – Saddle Up

The Train Wrecks are a four piece outlaw country group from Savannah, Georgia. This is a super independent album and one that probably can’t be found on the torrent sites. Somebody should really post this mofo on the torrent sites because people need to hear “Saddle Up.” I often imagine what it must have been like for Waylon Jennings’ touring bass player in the late seventies, drowning in a sea of quaaludes, whiskey, and feather haired groupies. That dude would have been all about the Train Wrecks. I’m all about the Train Wrecks. You should be all about The Train Wrecks too.

5. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean

This was probably the album that I listened to the most this year. Sam Beam is a weird dude. He is a songwriter’s songwriter, yet he packs his lyrical and melodic genius into super palatable, easy to digest pop/soft rock container. This album is reminiscent of Prince’s favorite Joni Mitchell album, “The Hissing of Summer Lawns.” It is a one time singer of soft acoustic ballads recruiting a full band to flesh out the sound while retaining the intimacy of insightful lyrics that take a few listens to tuly appreciate.

MOVIES

1. Bridesmaids

I’m sick and tired of the sausage party that is modern comedy. Sure, the ladies got it going on in TV Land (30 Rock, Parks and Recreation) but when it comes to the big screen, moviegoers have to settle for Katherine Heigl, Jennifer Lopez, Kate Hudson, and Jennifer Aniston trying to do it with Gerard Butler or Josh Duhamel in this months garbage romantic comedy nonsense. I’m the kind of guy that likes to mix business with pleasure when it comes to combining two of my favorite things in this world, women and laughter. Bridesmaids is the funniest movie of the year.

2. The Tree of Life

Terence Malick stepped up to the plate and he swung for the fences. This movie is either the most pretentious strike out ever, or the best movie ever made summing up all of existence within a couple of hours. Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, and young Hunter McCracken should all three be nominated for Oscars this year for their performance in this strange movie. I couldn’t stop thinking about this movie after I left the theater and that is a rare occurrence these days.

3. Your Highness

I’m sure that if anybody reads this list (which they may or may not) they are going to see this entry and immediately disregard my opinion regarding anything and everything ever. However, I don’t give a @#$%. I love to laugh and “Your Highness” made me laugh. You know how, when you are at a wedding for someone you barely know and somebody makes the mistake of handing some drunken middle aged uncle the microphone during speech time, and you just sit back and watch the bizarre spectacle unfold. Some unfortunate studio executive got the bright idea of giving David Gordon Green, Ben Best, and Danny McBride a buttload of millions of dollars and let them run wild with it. The funniest thing about this movie is that it ever got made at all. Future cult classic.

4. Super 8

I was just about the age where one can first sit through an entire movie when “The Goonies” came out in 1985. I loved watching a movie about a group of kids running around and embarking on a wild adventure. They talked like kids talked and they walked like kids walked. Super 8 reminds me of that movie, and not just because it is set in the 80’s. J.J. Abrams’ homage to the 80’s is action packed, sweet, and funny. Kyle Chandler is great in a supporting role and all of the kids are spot on. Speilberg himself would have a hard time topping this one.

5. The Future

This is a film that some critics loved and some hated (Time Magazine called it and “Your Highness” two of the worst films of the year). I think that writer/director/star Miranda July should take that as a major compliment. Haters gonna hate. This is a heart breaking story of a quirky young couple living in America right here and now. They have jobs, but they don’t make any money. They have each other, but they aren’t sure if that is enough. They have plans to adopt a cat, but they feel like that might be too much of a commitment. In an ideal world Hamish Linklater would be a huge star and Miranda July would make one movie a year like Woody Allen. Time Magazine called her a “hipster” (basically the worst thing you could call someone these days), but really she is just a devastatingly talented iconoclast who made a really good film.

TV

1. Parks and Recreation

Watching “Parks and Recreation” makes me happy. As a great man once said (really it was Jerry Maguire, but I’m not very smart so all of my quotes come from popular films) “we live in a cynical world.” Negativity reigns supreme. Everybody is a critic and we all log on to facebook just to laugh at how fat the people we went to high school got. Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson, Tom Haverford, April Ludgate, Andy Dwyer, Ben Wyatt, Chris Traeger, Anne Perkins, Donna Meagle, and Garry “Jerry” Gergich are better than all that. They look out for each other and they make decisions that aren’t always based on selfishness and nihilism like characters in every other well made sitcom on TV right now. It must be hard to write anything that can be as smart as “Parks and Recreation” and still stay so upbeat. I hope that the writers can keep it up and I hope that the show can attract more viewers before NBC replaces it with something as bad as “Whitney.”

2. The Good Wife

Alicia Florrick’s life is complicated. Her world is inhabited by really smart people who are really good at their jobs and clients who really need their help. This show is about politics. Not the kind of politics that you see on the news, but everyday politics; family politics, workplace politics, and sexual politics. It would be very limiting to call “The Good Wife” a feminist show, but it wouldn’t be completely inaccurate. Prime time network dramas are rarely this well written and Juliana Margulies is the best actress on TV.

3. Game of Thrones

“They would never cancel ‘Game of Thrones.’ It’s a crossover hit. It’s not just for fantasy enthusiasts, they’re telling human stories in a fantasy world.”

Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) from “Parks and Recreation”

4. Friday Night Lights

FNL did something really amazing in its 5 season run. It was a drama that was just as engaging and well crafted as any other on television (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Dexter), but without all of the darkness and negativity. Real life can be inspiring and uplifting, but really good TV shows rarely are. FNL ended its run on a high note and I feel sorry for those who haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying it. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!

5. Revenge

This show is pretty much just a soap opera. I’m not going to get into how it is deep and meaningful, because it isn’t. The shelf life on the quality of enjoyment for this guilty pleasure is probably going to be pretty short, so watch it while you still can, before this thing jumps the shark higher than any other show has ever jumped before. Check out Emily Thorne and the gang before the plot gets too ludicrous to endure, and believe me, it’s coming.

Miller is suppose to be studying for the bar exam but instead wasted his precious time writing this summary of 2011. We hope you enjoyed it.