The Last Chance Olive Ranch #BookReview

Olives are the Cure for Everything Except Stupidity

What’s going on people out there? It’s Slick Dungeon here again and although I keep hoping for it, I rarely run into a book down here that is worth reading. I wish I could say The Last Chance Olive Ranch was a fun read, with a smart mystery, fascinating characters who are well developed and as a bonus has some great recipes in the back. All I can really say is that there are in fact recipes in the back. I haven’t tried making them because I am stuck below ground in my dungeon so I suppose they could be great, I don’t know.

Now I have most definitely read worse books than this one. But, there are a ton of issues with this book. Like, how in the hell the whole thing happens in the first place. This basically has two stories going on. China Bayles and her husband Mike McQuaid both have life threatening adventures while in different locations. McQuaid is an ex-cop, current private investigator who has an escaped convict coming after him. China Bayles is an ex-lawyer, current business owner of several Thyme spice pun related businesses and she is supposed to be conducting some sort of seminar at an olive ranch with her friend and business associate Ruby. While at this ranch, China figures out there is a bad guy wanting to do some lethal harm to some people and also kind of helps to clear up a legal matter. I’m going to give a little more of a summary and then point out some things that just completely ruin this whole book.

The story basically starts with McQuaid getting a phone call telling him that this dude named Max has escaped death row. They refer to him in the book as “Bad Max” and I wish I was making that up. Max has not only got out but it seems like he is bent on going out and killing everyone who sent him to prison. McQuaid realizes he needs to catch the guy because he is the one who put him away in the first place and the guy is likely to come after him and China. He reasonably wants China to go do her thing out of town so he won’t have to worry while the guy is out on a tear.

China, meanwhile is torn between staying with her husband and wanting to go with her friend to do this seminar thing. She ends up going and learns all about this land dispute between Maddie, the operator of the Last Chance Olive Ranch and this guy named Boyd. China also happens to bump into an old flame named Chet who is a good guy but things didn’t work out and now he’s got it bad for Maddie.

I think the major plot points here are obvious. McQuaid is eventually going to get his guy. China is going to help figure out the land dispute and prove that Boyd is a grade A jerk, while also making sure that Chet and Maddie get a fairy tale ending.

I don’t so much have an issue with idea of the plot as a whole. But here’s the thing, it should never happen in the first place because every criminal in this book would have to be equal parts super genius and complete moron. There are some other problems with the book as well so I am just going to start a rant list below.

  • “Bad Max” is a terrible name for a bad guy. It will only make you think of a particular movie series and it makes you want to laugh and forget the whole book every time you read it.
  • Max breaks out of a death row prison in Texas. Think about that for a second. This guy would have to not only be Houdini, he’d have to be bulletproof and Hannibal Lecter smart to break out of here. So how did he do it? No idea, they never mention it in the book. Awesome.
  • This book is about an olive ranch but all of China’s businesses are named things like Party Thyme. So why is she the one writing excerpts about olives and olive oil between chapters? Shouldn’t she be the one writing about Thyme? And if anyone is going to write about olives shouldn’t it be Maddie, the one running an olive ranch?!
  • This has two completely different narratives going on, one with China, one with McQuaid. One is an ex-cop ensnaring an old enemy plot and the other is a love triangle attempted murder plot. Freaking pick one book please! You wrote two half books that don’t add up. They don’t even converge except for the first and last chapters and this only because China and McQuaid are married.
  • Despite this book being full of hardened criminals, tough guy private investigators and active police officers, no one, and I mean no one, swears even a little. China finds out that McQuaid has a plan to place himself as bait for a guy who has already killed three people. She thinks it’s “horsepucky.” At that point China is mentally flipping out and seriously, that’s the word she thinks of? I can think of another and it begins with Bull and doesn’t end with pucky.
  • The first owner of the Last Chance Olive Ranch was a woman named Eliza and she is inspired to make this ranch because of her Spanish lover. I lost count of how many times I had to hear about Eliza’s Spanish lover. Not a boyfriend or husband or person who she had an affair with. Nope, this is a Spanish lover.
  • Also he died in an orchard accident. That sounded mildly interesting to me. What happened? Not a clue because they never say. “I thought you died in a baking accident” Baker from Into the Woods
  • This book actually contains 30-50 feral hogs and that is before that was a thing on twitter. Nothing against this, it was just odd.
  • McQuaid has this ex-wife Sally and she apparently has a split personality. So not only does McQuaid have someone who can break out of prison coming after him, this wife is in trouble and she is begging for help. It never once occurs to McQuaid that maybe Max, the insane prison escapee might be the one after her. Max isn’t but shouldn’t McQuaid think that was a reasonable possibility? But nope. And when Max does grab her, thinking it’s China, McQuaid freaking blames her.
  • McQuaid’s genius plan to catch this guy seems to involve letting reporters he knows state to the media that he still lives in the town he lives in and is going to a community cook off. The bad guy actually calls McQuaid and tells him he is coming for him but McQuaid never thinks to, you know, wait at home and be prepared when the guy shows up.
  • Also, Bad Max is supposed to have figured out a way to get out of prison and kill five different people (with some help) before getting to McQuaid’s house. Now, when Max gets there he finds Sally. Does he do what makes sense? You know, shoot the wife of the guy you hate and then wait until the guy you hate shows up and then shoot him? Nope! He instead kidnaps Sally, and calls McQuaid to lure him to a junkyard. Err… what? That makes literally no sense.
  • At one point McQuaid goes and sees his son who is in college. He sees his son kiss an African-American woman. McQuaid kind of flips out in his own mind. I get owning up to your own prejudices and all but what he immediately tries to remember is if in all of his conversations about sex with his son, if he had ever brought up the issue of interracial sex. McQuaid my dude, let’s chat to the side for a minute. You know what you need to know about interracial sex? The same things you need to know about any kind of sex. Same info, it doesn’t freaking change! This particular thing in the book made me wish I was out at sea so that I could chuck the book into the water. Of course then I was glad I wasn’t because I would have realized putting trash in the ocean is not good. What’s worse was that McQuaid then thinks of himself as “fairly liberal”. Mmmhmmm.
  • Also, McQuaid seems to completely blame his ex-wife for having mental issues. He refers to her as “skitzy” in his mind. Let me just say this because I wish people would realize it, having multiple personalities is not the same as schizophrenia like at all. Books try to make this the same all the time but you know what it is when they do that? Horsepucky!
  • Speaking of my earlier point about language, McQuaid gets information out of a woman who is in with Max’s cousin Lester. It’s clear Lester is a horrible person and that Max has taken Sally by this point. The woman, named Candy, doesn’t think it’s all that weird that Sally has duct tape over her mouth. And she says that Sally is “a pain in the old patootie.” Okay, please, either make this character less dumb or at least let her use an actual word that a woman in that situation would use. The one I am thinking of is what usually follows Jack-
  • On China’s side of things, it’s so obvious Boyd is setting Maddie up that only a complete dummy wouldn’t figure that out. Maddie runs a successful business and is a college graduate but can’t seem to figure out Boyd’s motives. Why not? Because she is self conscious about a scar.
  • Also it’s completely obvious from the beginning of that story that Boyd is going to be revealed to be related to Maddie. See he tries to get her to marry him but Sofia, the half sister of Eliza, the woman with the Spanish lover, has a secret document in an olive wood box. China can’t possibly imagine what would be in there until she sees it even though we all know it’s going to be a birth certificate saying that Boyd is Maddie’s (well I was guessing half brother) cousin. Thus they can’t get married.
  • Hey, you know how they could have prevented Boyd from starting a fire and trying to forcibly take over the ranch? Give the birth certificate to Maddie, or her lawyer! Then I would have fifty percent less of this book I had to read!
  • There were so many things olives can do. I had no idea. I am sure this is true but they talk about how good it is to put in soap. Okay sure. Obviously good for food. No argument there. Then they talk about how it can be used as a cleaner possibly rivaling bleach. And that if it goes bad enough it is a fire accelerant. Wait, you want me to put this on my face and in my mouth? Mmmmm. I think I will pass….
  • So much of this book was simply an info dump and it got so obnoxious. We didn’t find out from general conversations or actions what a character was like. Nope, there are like five paragraph backgrounds we have to read through when we met or heard about a new character. That’s how I know Eliza had a Spanish lover.
  • I suppose the recipes might be good, I don’t know. But I appreciate that they are there because that was less for me to read!

I hope you enjoyed my rant as much as you might enjoy a fine virgin olive oil. Probably you didn’t but that’s okay because apparently that stuff can light things on fire. Next week I will be back to review Mulberry Moon by Catherine Anderson. Is that when a full moon is full of Mulberries?

Horsepuckishly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Life After Beth – #MovieReview

The zombie apocalypse happens in the background but at least there is smooth jazz?

Welcome back to my dungeon where the lights are dim, the smell is musty and the films generally stink.

This week I watched Life After Beth. In the beginning of the film, Beth goes hiking alone at night. This, for the record, is always one hundred percent a completely stupid idea. Don’t do this friends. Beth (Aubrey Plaza) is apparently bitten by a snake and killed. This happens off screen (like most of the interesting things in this film).

Next we see Zack (Dane Dehaan) trying to buy black napkins at a supermarket. He’s sent to the party supply store instead. In the next scene he’s clearly at the wake for Beth and it’s pretty obvious Zack was Beth’s ex and he’s pretty broken up about the whole thing. Zack spends some time bonding with Beth’s parents played by John C. Reily and Molly Shannon.

Late at night, in the background Zack thinks he sees someone running around. The next day he goes back and is sure he sees Beth. His brother comes over and tries to calm Zack down but of course, eventually he ends up in the Slocum’s (Beth’s last name) house. And surprise, there is his dead ex girlfriend looking both alive and super happy to see Zack. Unfortunately, Beth’s parents want to keep the whole thing of her death and return a secret from Beth.

Zack tries to take Beth hiking but is stopped by her dad. In the meantime, Beth is doing some weird things like, having super huge mood swings and gathering dirt to put into the attic. Most of that we don’t really see.

The movie sort of goes along like this for a while where weird things happen in the background. People who seem to have been dead or missing for a while show up in town but not quite acting like themselves.

Zack gets overly emotional with Beth and tries to serenade her on the beach. Beth freaks out and uses super human strength to destroy a lifeguard lookout tower. Zack is understandably nervous at this point and thinks that he might get eaten by his dead girlfriend. That’s a reasonable assumption in my book any given day of the week. Still, for some reason he sticks around and wants to take Beth hiking.

Beth on the other hand is only able to calm down by listening to smooth jazz or making out with Zack.

Pretty soon the whole dang town is listening to smooth jazz and only Zack and Erica Wexler (Anna Kendrick) an old family friend, seem to notice anything off. This includes when Zack accidentally full on runs Beth over and Beth gets up no problem. Do the townsfolk think that’s weird? Not at all! Totally normal except of course they are a little mad at Zack.

Beth then screams at the onlookers and finally they get scared. Uh, what? Ok but fine.

Zack decides to spill the beans to Beth and let her know that she’s dead. This does not go well and soon the whole town is filled with zombies. I never understood in watching this if Zack telling Beth about this was supposed to be the trigger to make all the zombies aggressive or what. It was implied but I was never sure.

Pretty soon Zack tries to protect his family by warning them and then is promptly knocked out by John C. Reily. He spends most of the evening of the apocalypse blacked out and we see zero of the interesting stuff.

About the only really interesting part of this whole film was the end when Zack takes Beth hiking but she has to have an oven strapped to her back to prevent her from eating Zack. Zack puts Beth out of her misery after telling her how he felt about her. Then he gets to go have dinner with Erica Wexler, yay!

Ughhh. Okay so where do I start with this whole thing now that I have told you about it? Spoilers by the way. Shoot, gotta remember to put that up higher in my reviews.

Zack has a lot of overacting in this thing and he just comes off as whiny to me for most of it. Everything that could be fun or funny about this movie happens off screen or is presented in the most boring way possible.

That being said, this film is not exactly bad. It’s certainly not so bad it’s good. It’s just kinda meh.

It got trashed by critics when it came out but I don’t think it was due to the film itself. It has a decent cast and other than Zack’s whining I think it was well acted. Beth did give sort of over the top screams at times but it fit in with, you know the whole zombie thing. But critics hated this because there had recently been a slew of zombie films in the theaters and of course The Walking Dead was still rocking it on the television sets. I think critics were just kind of burnt out of the genre and might have even trashed Zombieland if it had come out at the exact same time as this.

I don’t really recommend watching this but there are definitely worse films out there. If you don’t believe me, read any of my other reviews.

There were missed opportunities here to me. At first when the dead seemed to return, most of them were acting a little odd but kind of generally nice. To me, having the whole movie be like that would have been far more interesting. Like what would we do in a zombie apocalypse if basically, everyone was really nice but they needed to change their diet? That could have worked.

I did find one line pretty funny when Zack gets upset that Beth eats a guy. Her response is, “What do you want from me Zack? I’m a zombie, zombies eat guys.” Fact check – true!

Other than that though, this movie was just sort of okay. I never found myself hating it or loving it. Hopefully next week the film I watch will be more interesting, even if it sucks.

Last week James Cordon did a piece about fat shaming and mentioned a terrible movie Bill Mahr was in and a terrible movie he himself was in. I immediately felt the need to do a side by side comparison to see which one is worse. I’ll be starting with Bill’s movie, Cannibal Women and the Avocado Jungle of Death. I have a strong suspicion it’s going to be every bit as bad as his opinions on fat shaming.

Tepidly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Temptation – #BookReview

I have No Idea What is Happening in Texas

Hello out there to those of you above ground. It’s Friday the 13th today and that means bad luck. What was my bad luck today? Reading Temptation by Brenda Jackson.

I tend not to like romance books much and this one is a prime example of why not. From a barely there plot, to poorly developed characters, to really weird obsessions with mouths, this book was awful from start to finish. It was so bad that I was at times baffled and at times just straight up angry at how bad this could be.

Here’s the thing though, when I read something that I think is awful, I just obsess over it somehow. How did this get made? Why? Who thought publishing this was a good idea? But then it hit me, there is only one answer to this riddle for Temptation. I need to find out right from the horses mouths (yeah cause Texas and horses and… ah never mind). So, lucky for me, I have run into several of the characters in the book! I will be interviewing them below. I have no idea how they ended up in the fifth room of my dungeon but here they are. I wish I could say it was good to see people but well… maybe next time send someone with a ladder so I can get out of here?

Anyway, I am going to provide a quick summary of the (for lack of a better term) plot and then dive right into the interview.

Sheila Hopkins is an emergency room nurse in Royal, Texas. One day she is driving and sees a hunka hunka burning man meat in the car next to her on the way to work. She gets to work and surprise, surprise, surprise, Mr. man meat is there and meets her. This guy is Zeke Travers who is a private investigator. A baby was left abandoned and someone is trying to name Zeke’s best bud and client Brad as the father. It’s part of a blackmail scheme to get some money out of rich folks who are in charge at the Texas Cattlemen’s Club. Zeke and Sheila hit it off and Sheila, within minutes of meeting an abandoned baby is supposed to take care of it for two weeks while the custody of said baby is worked out. Sheila takes a shine to the kid and names her Sunnie, Zeke takes a shine to Sheila and they kiss a lot while ridiculously saying they should stay away from each other. Zeke has to keep an eye on Sheila cause what if she is some kinda psycho who just was handed a baby (never mind that it’s kind of psycho to hand over a baby to a stranger). Zeke and Sheila hook up, break up (but not really), hook up some more, have some fights, Zeke figures out the plot, Sheila has to give up the baby but it’s okay because now she can have babies with Zeke. Happy ending and holy crap there are a bunch more books in this series.

Let me give a warm Slick Dungeon welcome to my guests, Sheila Hopkins, Zeke Travers, Sunnie, and Bradford Price.

Slick: Hi Sheila, nice to meet you. So you were a nurse for the whole book but you never did any nursing other than taking a kid home. What are your thoughts about taking a baby home instead of you know, leaving it say, at the pediatric ward of your hospital?

Sheila: Neither me nor my kitchen would be able to handle all the heat Zeke and I would make.

Slick: uhmmm, that didn’t really answer the question. About the baby…

Sheila: Earlier in the day a man proposed to his his girlfriend in the E.R. It was very romantic.

Slick: Uh, ok. I mean have you been in an Emergency Room? It’s noisy, smells weird and occasionally people walk in with a severed finger in a mason jar full of ice. Is that actually romantic? Anyway, about this kid who you took care of…

Sheila: I named her Sunnie because she stopped crying and smiled at me. That makes me most qualified to be her mother.

Slick: I’m not sure that fits the definition of qualified but at least you are on topic this time. What made you so attracted to Zeke?

Sheila: Have you seen him? He has a mouth that is hot. Also he said to me, “Good. Because if I get arrested, Sheila, so do you. And it would be my request that we get put in the same jail cell.”

Slick: Okay, first off, I doubt you would get the request granted. Secondly, a jail cell? Is that supposed to be romantic? I kind of think your idea of romantic locations is a bit off here. Was it tough keeping Sunnie? You didn’t seem to have much experience with infants when she was randomly given to you.

Sheila: Zeke did a background check on me and I got sooo mad. Then he built a crib while I showered. We kissed. Zeke smelled good. Most of the men at the hospital smell sanitized. Zeke reminds me of a real man’s scent.

Slick: Wasn’t he all sweaty from building the crib and like hauling things in for you?

Sheila: Yes.

Slick: Okay gross. Also, just because you smell sanitary really does not mean you are not a “real man”. I think a lot of male nurses, doctors, and people who don’t like to stink might take offense at that. But since you keep bringing up Zeke, let me switch gears and speak with him.

Slick: Hi Zeke, you are a private investigator who did almost nothing for two weeks while Sheila took care of a kid that you first handed over, then thought, maybe I should do a background check on this woman that I gave a kid to. Were you suspicious of Sheila? And do you think maybe the background check could have happened prior to the baby hand off?

Zeke: Sheila attracted me right off. I kissed her, even though I had only met her earlier in the day, first at a stop light, then when I gave her a baby to take care of. This kind of mouth interaction with Sheila was stirring things inside me that I’d tried to keep at bay with other women.

Slick: TMI dude. So, Sunnie was not even five months old and cried a lot and had been literally abandoned on a doorstep of a club that your friend Brad is a part of. Yet, you wondered why the kid didn’t have a bed time. You don’t know how babies work do you?

Zeke: My friend Brad is a good man. He hired me. I own a big ranch. I have a niece and nephew too so I know about kids. Did I mention I kissed Sheila?

Sheila: Even after brushing my teeth I could still taste Zeke.

Slick: You need to brush better.

Zeke: Sheila tasted good. I couldn’t get enough of it, which is why I was eating away at her mouth with a relentless hunger.

Slick: Dude, stop, we have been over this. TMI.

Sheila: But he’s so romantic. He said, “I want to cherish you with my mouth, Sheila.”

Slick: I’ve watched a movie where space zombies try to take over the planet and no one in that film said anything even close to as weird as that. Let’s try talking about something else. There was a hurricane threatening your neighborhood, Sheila. Zeke did what a responsible guy would do and came over to check on you. Then he basically pressured you into moving into his house to wait the storm out. That seemed reasonable because, hurricane. But you asked him not to seduce you while you were there. He wouldn’t agree to that. Sheila, that’s seriously disturbing behavior, why didn’t you call the cops on Zeke?

Sheila: I went to his house knowing I was attracted to his mouth.

Slick: Okay… Uh, Zeke, did you not think it was messed up to basically say, stay at my house to ride out the hurricane but I won’t promise to keep my grubby mitts off you to Sheila?

Zeke: Brad is a good man. I own a ranch. I had to clear his name and to do that I had to mostly spend time with Sheila. My job was to investigate the crime so I stayed with the caretaker of the baby.

Slick: Er, you really sucked at your job and at being a decent guy. Hurricanes are not prime opportunities to coerce women.

Sheila: I stayed way longer than after the hurricane was a threat. I can’t admit my feelings for Zeke.

Slick: I would say all the kissing you did is kind of an admission.

Zeke: There’s something about Sheila’s scent that makes me want to mate.

Slick: Seriously dude. TMI.

Zeke: I could only imagine the outcome of this mating. But I needed it the way I need to breathe.

Slick: The outcome is pregnancy. In case you didn’t notice, there was a baby the whole time. That’s the outcome of mating. and let me just say this again, T.M.I.! But speaking of the baby, it was really convenient that she cried a lot at the beginning and then kept her attention on Sheila so she could be given over. Then it was even more convenient that she didn’t cry later in the book when you guys were doing weird mouth things and mating and what not. Sunnie, do you have anything to say about this?

Sunnie: …

Slick: Well I suppose you are kind of a plot device.

Brad: That’s my job. I’m a good man. I was set up. My brother had a kid with a woman, was killed by her and her drug dealing boyfriend then they tried to blackmail me with his kid. This is all explained in about two whole paragraphs in the book.

Slick: True. Sheila, you seemed to get surprisingly angry and depressed over the fact that Zeke might miss a flight while trying to catch a crook. Are you over that?

Sheila: Oh totally. We got married and Brad and this other woman Abigail that I met just days ago who seems to be interested in Brad was there.

Slick: Uh, more in this horrible series to come then?

Brad: Yeah. See when I told Zeke I had a genetic link to the baby, he left the building without any explanation and then hooked up with Sheila. We figured out it was my brother’s kid but not before I made Abigail cry. Then we watched a tape with Abigail that literally could have solved the entire crime if Zeke had just done his job and showed it earlier to the people at the Texas Cattlmen’s Club. But he was mating with Sheila. I get my turn next. With Abigail that is.

Zeke: Well, I did have to fly to Dallas and then be almost late for when Sheila gave back the baby, so I could watch other people arrest the bad guy. So I called my super rich dad who I was estranged from until a few years ago and ask to fly in his jet. Then while on that jet I bought a wedding ring for Sheila and proposed to her.

Slick: You proposed in a parking lot outside of the Texas Cattlemen’s Club?

Zeke: I did and she said yes.

Slick: I guess it’s better than an Emergency Room. How did you propose?

Sheila: He said, “Do you love me enough to wear my last name, have my babies and spend the rest of your life with me?”

Slick: Err. I don’t know where to begin here. First, is a last name something you wear? In my experience I mostly say it, spell it or sign it. Also, I would just like to mention that they wouldn’t just be Zeke’s babies. They would be yours as well. Spending the rest of your life, I have no problem with. But seriously, Zeke, you are one weird dude.

Brad: But he knows I am a good man. I bet he shows up in my book!

Slick: I will not be reading that. Thanks for finding your way here down in the dark. Now all of you, get out!

Slick drops microphone and releases various types of lethal oozes to get them to leave.

I hope you enjoyed my exclusive interview. Next week I will be back with another review. This time I will be reading The Last Chance Olive Ranch by Susan Wittig Albert. I guess someone already must have taken the first chance olive ranch?

Journalistically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Season of the Witch – #MovieReview

What Causes Black Plague? Probably Witches

Hello friends and freakish compatriots. Slick Dungeon here back with yet another review of a film that is never going to win any kind of awards. I had planned to review Captain Sabretooth and the Treasure of Rama Lama but it apparently is not on Netflix and it’s surprisingly hard to get an Amazon Prime membership when you live in a dingy dungeon cave and are forced to read terrible books and watch awful movies.

I ended up watching Season of the Witch. The most absolutely stunning thing about this film is how many actors are in it that you will recognize. This was filmed after Nicolas Cage really needed money but before Robert Sheehan was being fantastically weird in The Umbrella Academy. It was after Ron Perlman had been Hellboy a couple of times but before Claire Foy was Lizbeth Salander or the queen of England. It was well after Christopher Lee was cool but before Rory McCann had an epic throwdown in Clegane-bowl in Game of Thrones. And yes, all those high quality actors are actually in this film. You know what? It just proves that we can’t all succeed all the time.

Set in the time of the crusades, we learn in the first scene that witches are totally real. How do we know? Because a priest kills one but then gets killed for it. Supernatural things are afoot.

We cut immediately into a series of crusade battles where a bunch of Americans sounding very American do some British style sword wielding. They go on battle after battle in location after location. Conveniently, the travel takes no time at all because, editing. Ron Perlman and Nicolas Cage ham it up so much in these battle sequences, you can smell the pork on their breath. They play Felson and Behman respectively and the names do not fit at all with these actors. I guarantee you will think of them the entire time as Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman.

The fight sequences for the crusades seem to last about as long as the actual crusades. They are repetitive and dull and full of a lot shouting about God. Finally after the eons of this happening (along with a bunch of side shouting about committing all manner sins by Cage and Perlman) Behman stabs an innocent woman to death and thinks maybe it’s time for a career change. He and Felson quit and leave the battlefield. The head of the army is like, “You cannot leave,” to which Behman says, “Who’s gonna stop us?” My thought was, maybe that whole freaking army? But nah, they just let them go.

Cage and Perlman make it to the town we saw at the opening where the witch had cursed a priest. They find the whole place is dying by plague. Cage and Perlman are exposed to this stuff in the film over and over and over and over again and not even a cough out of either one of them for the whole film. Why? Because the plague was not caused by germs or spread by rodents or anything illogical like that. Nope. It was witches. For sure, witches. Oh and guess what? This town caught another witch and if she gets taken to some random town and put on trial where there is some book and some ritual is performed the plague will most definitely be over and we’ll all be good to go on and invent cheeseburgers in the future or whatever.

But there’s a problem see? They need some good ol’ deserters who can either choose jail time or go escort this witch somewhere. Cage and Perlman choose jail. Yep, you got that right. They were not afraid to fight off an entire army of crusaders but when a priest in a plague infested town tells them to leave, they are like, yeah jail sounds good. Behman has a heart though because he feels guilty for getting all stabby on a woman earlier in the movie so when this witch is in the jail cell across from him and she cries, he decides he will escort her, as long as he gets a pardon. Were there pardons back then? I dunno.

The witch begs Behman to make sure she gets a “fair trial”. Never mind that at that time a fair trial might very well have been checking to see if she burned to death by fire. They pick up a guy from the stockade who can apparently lead them to the town where this ritual is supposed to happen and they set off.

Pretty quick they end up in a spooky set location where one dude ends up dead in no time at all. Some of them think it was the woman causing the death some don’t know.

We go on a bit and the woman shows more strength than reasonable without ingesting a ton of steroids. They cross a rickety bridge, another dude dies soon after that and they’re all pretty sure the witchy woman is a witch.

But guess what? At that town, the plague has hit. We get to see Christopher Lee have a death scene and they find that book that would do that ritual thing. Next thing you know, almost everyone is dead except our heroes and the woman. They start up the ritual but it doesn’t seem to be working. The priest figures out that this is not a witch! It’s a demon. Now I want my money back for the film being mistitled. It should be called Season of the Plague Demon instead.

There’s a big battle, they have to do some reading in Latin, we see a CGI demon throw people around, Hellboy and the guy from National Treasure both die. Klaus from The Umbrella Academy and Lisbeth Salander live. She lives because apparently she was just possessed? I dunno. Anyway, we all survive the plague! Cheeseburgers are now in our future!

So yeah, that’s the film for ya. It was really bad. But sadly, it’s not the worst Nicolas Cage movie I have ever seen. The best part of Season of the Witch was one jump scare way early on and, um, yeah that’s it.

Next time you are stuck in history class and you have to talk about the black plague or the crusades, just mention how a hell-spawned demon took possession of a young woman, pretended to be a witch and got it’s butt kicked by a few Americans. You’ll get an A for sure!

Next week I will be back to review Life After Beth. It’s gotta be better than life before Beth right?

Crusadingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Dime Store Magic – #BookReview

Witchcraft is Just Like C++

Have you ever read a book and thought, I should like this, why don’t I like this? That’s what Dime Store Magic was for me.

I enjoy lots of paranormal stuff. I watch Supernatural. I have enjoyed a couple of The Dresden Files books. I can even believe that a radioactive spider bite can give a boy powers that let him stick to walls. But I could not believe this book. Is it because this story focuses on women and I am a sexist jerk? I hope not, but I guess that’s a possibility. Is it because the writing is awful? No actually, this is fairly competently written. Was the plot terrible? Eh, well some of it was kind of silly and sort of didn’t make sense but I have absolutely read worse. I’m not sure what exactly it was that made me just not get into this book. It did give me a lot to think about though. I’m going to give you a plot summary and then point out some things that popped out to me about this book. I kind of think the real problem I had with this book is that if you sum all the parts up, it’s kind of dull.

Spoilers follow below.

Paige is a witch. She has a thirteen year old ward named Savannah who survived some trauma what with her mother being killed and all, and ended up living with Paige. The woman who murdered Paige’s mother and Savannah’s mother is a witch named Leah. That much I just gathered from the story but I think these events are covered earlier in the series. Paige and Savannah think that the whole deal with Leah is over for now but there is one thing they never, ever counted on. Court filings! Yeah, there is a custody battle at the heart of the story because Savannah has a father who was unknown to her previously. Needless to say this father is a sorcerer who runs a Cabal. A lawyer named Lucas Cortez shows up to help Paige and Savannah and needless to say is also a sorcerer but from a different Cabal but kinda kicked out of that Cabal but kinda not really. The father Nast, wants Savannah for two reasons. One, she’s his daughter. Two, she’s thirteen and about to start menstruating which apparently means she’s about to be a very powerful witch given the right circumstances. These Cabals apparently have an employment program where they hire one witch only. They want Savannah to be that witch. Lots of threats, destruction and bad media for Paige happen and in the end, Lucas and Paige hook up, Savannah is rescued from the evil Cabal, Leah is killed and Paige goes through the ceremony and can now most likely kick everyone’s butt. Yay!

Now here’s some things that stand out.

  • This passage did not age well – “In structure, though, the Cabal was more Donald Trump than Al Capone.” I think Trump was more Capone than the author realized, Tax evasion anyone? (Not the authors fault but it made me laugh)
  • This book does advocate safe sex which I applaud. Here’s proof – “My advice to young women who like to pick up guys in singles bars? Condoms prevent more than venereal disease.” True! Of course she was giving that advice so that no one gives birth to a half-demon hell creature but still, solid advice.
  • So the author and Cortez go to great lengths to say how these Cabals are legitimate businesses, not like the mob. Then they act like the mob for the entire book. At one point there is an unconscious guy in Savannah’s house and she asks Cortez how the Cabals handle these people. His answer, “Chain saws and large cement blocks.” That’s a super legitimate business practice not at all like the mob.
  • Here’s my favorite sentence in the whole book. “Leah might very well decide to take her revenge and the last thing any of us needed right now was a werewolf/half-demon grudge match unfolding in downtown East Falls.” Maybe they didn’t need it but you know what the book needed? A werewolf/half-demon grudge match unfolding in downtown East Falls! Sadly that did not happen.
  • Here’s the best quote from Savannah, “Oh, please. I’m in danger of being handed over to a psycho half-demon and brain-washed into slavery for supernatural mobsters. You think anyone cares whether I know how to conjugate verbs?” Shout out to grammar! Yes! And then Paige tells her to conjugate. Nice mothering!
  • There’s a ton in this book that explains how witch spells work. And how these supernatural beings relate to each other. It all sounded pretty boring and like basic office meetings where no one wants to go but you have to so you can collect a paycheck. It had me wondering if at the start of werewolf meetings, they needed to get like a vampire IT guy to come and set up the projector for the powerpoint presentation. Then Paige literally compares casting spells to learning programming languages like C++. Oh my God, being one of these magical creatures is like working in an office! That would drive me crazy. I would need to take two of my friends, steal a printer from the office, take it out to an open field and beat it to death with a baseball bat while rap music played in the background.
  • This whole story gets set off with some court papers. Cortez shows up a bunch of times and every time Paige refuses to let him be her lawyer. She can’t trust him because she is a sorcerer and goes two thirds of the book not trusting him then she sleeps with the guy. Uh, that went from zero to sixty out of nowhere.
  • Also, when they finally hook up, they are tumbling around on a pile of clean clothes. It’s supposed to be spontaneous and romantic. They do things like light and extinguish candles with their spells and whisper sweet nothings to each other. And Paige inhales the smell of the fabric softener. You know what I thought during that entire scene? I sure hope they wash those clothes again. They didn’t. Although, that may have more to do with the house burning down.
  • Savannah is thirteen and about to have her first period. How do I know? It’s mentioned about thirteen thousand times in this book. Yes, I know it’s natural. It’s perfectly normal but the word menses and menstruation appear a lot in this book. It apparently is in part what gives a which her powers. The boys seem to be sorcerers in this book so it just made me wonder, do they have something happen when their voice changes? When they get chest hair? What exactly is the trigger here?
  • It made absolutely no sense how often Paige tells Cortez not to be her lawyer. At a point that she is in jail with no money, no prospects, and no one else to help her and could very likely be charged with murder, she refuses his legal counsel. He goes away and then comes back insisting he still is her lawyer even though she told the police he was not. Can you lawyer someone under their duress? I don’t think so.
  • This whole huge mob shows up at Paige’s house because there were some cat bodies found there (planted by Leah) and people seem to think she is a real witch. She is but that’s beside the point. I mean I can see how a satanic alter and a few dead cats could be a curiosity but like a whole crowd, really?
  • There is a more believable mob later when it looks like Paige maybe killed someone. Cortez flicks people around and makes them stumble with some hand gestures to make their way through the crowd. Anyone looking might find this suspicious in my mind. Then Savannah wants to cast a spell that will make it hail to get rid of the crowd. Cortez and Paige tell her no because hail would be too suspicious in summer. Really?! Weird weather happens all the time and no one is going to think a kid cast a spell to make that happen. How moronic can you get?
  • These witches and sorcerers and all seem to be fairly powerful and capable of a lot of stuff. What do they do with that power? They become web designers and lawyers and business people. Seriously? At least in Harry Potter adults got to have cool wizard jobs. (And yes I know, Dresden Files does this too. I think it’s kinda silly there too).
  • One night, Paige and Cortez are watching television and Night of the Living Dead comes on. They call it stupid. How. Dare. You. This is doubly ironic considering the book earlier had a scene where the dead came back to life and that scene owed a heck of a lot to George R. Romero to make it work. Don’t insult good films in books!
  • Paige ends up in a legal custody battle, is at the scene when a man is murdered, has a violent riot happen outside her house, has her house burn down, goes to the house of Savannah’s father where several people are killed and then the house burns down. Is Paige wanted by the cops? Nope! Why not? Cortez “spoke to them”. Off screen of the story. That’s it. How is she not in freaking jail right now?!?!?!

That seems like a good place to stop. Next week I will be reading Temptation by Brenda Jackson. I suspect I will be tempted to stop reading it.

Craftily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Robot Monster – #MovieReview

we know how it will end

Slick Dungeon here, in the tenth room of my dungeon. This is where I watch the weirdest, baddest and sometimes oldest movies and give you a little review so you know if you should invest your time in them. You totally should.

This week I watched Robot Monster. Also known as the granddaddy of so bad it’s good science fiction films. It was poked fun of by the guys on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was so bad and did so poorly at the box office that the director tried to kill himself. His shot missed though and he survived. His movie, for all of the bashing it gets, is still around and people still talk about it. It’s not every movie that can say that!

This thing was shot in four days in Bronson Canyon. It has a whopping ensemble cast of eight people. Two of which are mostly in a monster getup that was not well thought out. The rushed filming shows if you look closely. There are spliced scenes from other movies, there’s a point where a woman is loosely tied up and unconscious in one shot and when we see her again, she is fully bound and fully awake, you can see a hand controlling the model spaceship in the special effects shots and if that was not enough, you can see the actor’s face in the space helmet when he is supposed to be some kind of technologically superior space gorilla.

But those things I just listed, are the unintentional mistakes. I feel like the conscious choices here are much, much worse. They wanted the monster to look like a huge furry ape creature in a space suit. Mission accomplished and it looks as stupid as it sounds. Let me give you just a brief plot summary here and as we go on, I will point out even more of the ridiculous.

The film starts out with a nice little family having a picnic. Johnny, the little boy in the film and his sister Carla run off to play unsupervised near a cave. At the cave there are two archaeologists digging out some fossils. They explain to the kids that their job is to dig it out and send this stuff to a museum for people to study. Johnny is more interested in space aliens. The older sister of Johnny and their mother find the boy and then they leave. Johnny can’t resist coming back and there’s a flash of lightning. Dinosaurs (from another movie) roam the planet! Lizards (from another movie) wrestle each other! Action! Excitement!

Next we see a monster. This is Ro-man (Pronounced Row-man not Roman thank you very much) and he is armed with a bunch of antenna, a television screen and even, a machine that makes bubbles! Ooooh watch out!.

But this dude is serious. He’s killed literally everyone on the planet with one stroke. Except for our five remaining cast members. Lucky for them, their father, “The Professor”, had cooked up a serum that protected the whole fam from any sort of disease at all. Yay for illegal science! There’s also a couple of people on a “space platform” that have survived, also thanks to the Professor.

Ro-man spends the rest of the movie, slowly turning dials, slowly wandering around in grass, slowly picking up little girls and women, and loudly yelling back and forth at his leader in space. It’s super obvious that the visibility from this outfit was zero for this actor. It’s awesomely funny.

There are also some choice bits of dialogue from the handsome lead to his love interest. Roy, who is not related to the rest of the family but was an assistant to the Professor also got to have an injection of the serum. Good thing for him too because he is in love with the Professor’s oldest daughter Alice. Alice is a beautiful and brilliant scientist in her own right. How do we know? Well, she almost fixes the screen that speaks with space. And, Roy, says to her, “You’re either too beautiful to be smart, or too smart to be beautiful.” Because you clearly, cannot be both. The fifties must have sucked so much if you were not a straight, white, male. Anyway.

Ro-man, as can be predicted wants to kill the humans. But not Alice because, well, I guess he’s got an open mind about dating. He shouts at the humans on the screen a few times and says they should ask for a painless death, but like, can he date Alice or what? Alice is kinda like, well, if it will save humanity, I’ll go talk to the space alien monster. The Professor and Roy decide to tie Alice up for her own good instead.

Then later, when there is still a dangerous monster out there, Johnny gives up the secret of the serum to Ro=man. Does Ro-man kill Johnny after that? No. Why? Because Johnny is on top of a rock above Ro-man, and that costume is unwieldy my friends.

Even later Alice and Roy decide to go do some necking as they might have said in the fifties. You know, despite the fact that there is a murderous alien. By the way, none of them ever once seems to think it’s a good idea to move away from the cave at all. Also, they don’t seem too broken up about the entire rest of the planet being dead.

When Alice and Roy get back from their fun time, Roy asks the Professor if he can marry Alice. Not like the Professor and his daughter have a lot of options but he agrees. Alice has time to find a veil but Roy doesn’t seem to have time to put his shirt back on. There is a little ceremony and they get married. They head off for a honeymoon. Yes, a honeymoon right near the cave where the murdery space gorilla lives. Roy, you must have been one amazing assistant.

Carla, Johnny’s little sister, runs after the happy couple, gives them some flowers and runs off (in the totally wrong direction). Ro-man finds her and strangles her off screen. Why off screen? Because that costume is unwieldy my friends.

Soon Ro-man finds our happy couple and the epic last battle for humanity begins again. He strikes Roy! He captures Alice! Alice is slowly taken to the cave! Alice has her dress torn (that’s seriously out of line, Ro-man) and she is slowly tied up, loosely! Ro-man turns around and argues with his boss that he should get to keep the girl. Boss is unhappy, Alice is now fully tied up completely!

Roy makes it back to the house with the Professor where they have just buried Carla! Roy dies! For a moment Ro-man seems to regret his actions! Boss zaps everyone on the planet including Ro-man!

Johnny wakes up! Oh, oh wait. This was all a dream. Yep, they went there. They Wizard of Oz’ed this sucker. I guess we knew that from the start since the actors don’t change at all from before Johnny went unconscious. Ah, well, all good they won’t be the last to rip that off. Roy and the Professor turn out to be the archaeologists! And Roy asks Alice on a date! Yay!

Now look, as ridiculous as everything I just described sounds, here’s the thing. I don’t think this deserves the harsh treatment it gets, I get what the film makers were going for and at the time it made sense. It was kind of poorly executed but you know what? This totally could have worked as a Twilight Zone episode. With a little more careful editing you wouldn’t catch the mistakes and the premise is not that bad. One family survives the destruction of Earth. Could be interesting. I recommend checking this out with the realization that this movie has actually lasted. It doesn’t seem that out of place from the rest of sci-fi at the time. Give ol’ Ro-man a break will ya? I mean have you seen the original Star Trek show?? They have a ton of weird stuff in there too and we don’t bash that the same way we do this.

That’s all for now, next week I will be watching Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama. At least Captain Tiger hasn’t gone after the treasure of Rama Lama yet.

Defensively yours,

Slick Dungeon

Summer in Tuscany – #BookReview

trust me, I’m a… doctor?

Slick Dungeon here and I am just hanging out in the fifth room of my dungeon where I keep all kinds of less than stellar books. This week I read Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler.

But wait, what is this? What is this thing I found rolling around on the floor? It’s my new patent-pending, scientifically tested, completely reliable, totally untested and unscientific suckiness meter. This device will without fail let us know if something in a book sucks. Along with this meter, there is a set of instructions. They tell me that there is a rating scale. For every beep I hear while describing something in the book, that is a suckiness point. If there is no beep, I will remove a point. At the end we will discover if Summer in Tuscany sucks or not.

First, a very quick plot summary. An overworked doctor has to go to Italy because her mother inherited a villa where she grew up. As soon as she gets there, a land dispute breaks out with a handsome American man that we all know is going to end up with the main character. I have no idea why so many romance novels lately involve land disputes but whatever. Stuff happens, people hook up, there’s a wedding and we all knew the summer in Tuscany was going to end with a permanent residence there with said hunky man. Is this Doc Hollywood or Cars with the gender roles reversed? Basically yes.

Also, quick note, I listened to this on audio so if I misspell any names please forgive my unintentional error.

Suckiness meter activate!

  • The main character, Gemma, is a doctor but in the first chapter wonders if she should get breast implants. Does she not know how bad putting silicon in your body for no reason is for you? What kind of a doctor is she? +3 suckiness points for being a bad doctor.
  • Gemma is described as a hard, working, dedicated emergency room doctor in New York City, who does her best to help people, all while raising a teenage daughter on her own. No beeps. -1 suckiness point.
  • We learn pretty quickly she has a biiiig secret about a man named Chase Drummond who is a cowboy crossed with a surfer. I bet her secret is not all that bad! And seriously, Chase Drummond? I think he should have just been named Chiseled Manhunk. +4 suckiness points for overhyped masculinity and secrets that are not secrets.
  • Gemma’s mother Nona, is hiding that she has a heart defect from her own daughter who I may have mentioned is a doctor. I mean, I get you don’t want to tell your kid bad news but, free health care right?? +1 suckiness point for not using your own resources.
  • Nona has to go back to Italy because she is told by a shady lawyer type that she has inherited this massive property and is now a wealthy heiress. Gemma is going to disrupt her life, and take herself and her kid Olivia (who goes by Livie) for an entire summer to sort it out. I’ve heard much worse reasons to go to Italy so no beeps. -2 suckiness points.
  • The book really gets going once the fam arrives in Italy and there are beautiful descriptions of the scenery and the food described is mouth-watering. -3 suckiness points
  • They see all kinds of sights in this book including going up the stairs of the duomo in Florence but they never wait in line. +4 suckiness points for not making this completely fictional story seem more like reality.
  • Gemma seems to be lusting over virtually every dude she sees but she has promised herself she would remain celibate due to reasons involving that Chase guy from her past. Yeah right. +5 for unbelievability.
  • Gemma, as I have mentioned, is a doctor but at one point she wonders if the “sexy parts” (her words not mine) on her body are called the loins. Did you not have to take anatomy to become an ER doc?! +7 for making me crazy with annoyance at her poor job skills.
  • Gemma meets her love interest, a man named Ben Raphael who, I freaking kid you not, is super wealthy and has a daughter named Muffy. Muffy!! Is there a more stereotypical rich kid name ever? I think she should have been named Super Spoiled Rich Kid instead. +3 for the continuing trend of stupid names.
  • Nona gets her own cute little romance with a guy from the village who remembers her from way back when. I have no problem with this and kind of liked the part where they let the dog decide if they should get married. -2 suckiness points.
  • Livie goes on her first date, with some random Italian guy who thinks she is older than 14, and misses her curfew but kisses him. +9 suckiness points for a combination of bad parenting and predatory grossness.
  • Gemma is constantly questioning her looks, despite the fact that there is a man who is seriously in love with her and keeps telling her how attractive he thinks she is. Confidence, woman! Why do women in these books always have self esteem issues? +5 suckiness points for boring old romance tropes.
  • Ben Raphael is wealthy, handsome, divorced, in love with Gemma and runs a vaguely defined “business”. I think he’s probably doing something really shady to make his money. It never says that in the book, it’s just the obvious conclusion. +3 suckiness points for more romance tropes.
  • For a good part of the book Ben is living at the villa and when he wakes up one morning and the shower does not turn on, he immediately thinks Gemma is to blame. Here’s the thing though, she was kissing him just the night before and although they are in a bit of a legal dispute, she gave him no real reason to think she would do anything like that. Hmmmm…. the shower didn’t turn on, I know! It’s the woman who was kissing me last night. Perfectly logical conslusion. +3 suckiness points for Ben being an idiot.
  • Ben also has weird things he says to Gemma. He literally calls her a walking disaster. He compliments her by saying she is “looking girly”, this despite the fact that he earlier thought how great it was she wasn’t hung up on make up and didn’t care about looking perfect all the time. (Spoiler Ben, she really is hung up on make up constantly and you could tell if you just read her inner dialogue like the rest of us did). Then he proposes to her in an Italian jail cell. Smooth move bro. +7 suckiness points for fake romantic moments.
  • At one point Ben and Gemma are… doing that… and while Ben is looking at her and says how much he wants her, Gemma looks behind her and then asks David, “Me?”. Uhhhh… you got a medical degree you say? But did you really? +3 suckiness points for making Gemma seem dumb, incompetent and way too self conscious with one word.
  • There’s this little side story where they chase around that shady lawyer guy but never catch him. It’s just an excuse for Ben and Gemma to get separated, go to somewhere else in Italy, and then hook up again. I had no problem with this. There are much worse reasons to run all over Italy and it gave the author more room to have nice descriptions of the scenery. -4 suckiness points.
  • Gemma is constantly thinking about how much she needs and loves her job. How it defines her. But in the course of a summer, she is able to just toss it overboard because she met a super rich guy and now her mother owns this villa. It didn’t seem like she was gonna keep doctoring either. Maybe that’s okay considering her track record of not great statements in this book. But still, if she felt it was so important, why give it up so fast? +9 suckiness points for sending the message that you should find your passion and then abandon it for a handsome, wealthy man.
  • Also, I am not saying New York City is better than Italy in any way, they are both good in their own way. But why do these books constantly insist that the best way to live your life is outside of a big, bustling city? What’s wrong with New York? Gemma leaves it without a thought and doesn’t seem to ask her daughter if that’s even okay with her. +2 suckiness points for small country bias.
  • Ben is constantly told by Gemma that she can’t love him. She explains how she will always love Chase which he understands. But he still is on her to say that she loves him, over and over. He proposes and her first reaction is to say no. So he makes her propose to him. Come on man, learn to take no for an answer. I mean, I know the book wouldn’t happen if she didn’t “truly love Ben” on the inside but when a woman says no, take it for exactly what it sounds like. I get it if you want to try again later after some serious discussion but in the moment it shouldn’t be, oh she can’t have meant to say no to me. +15 suckiness points for having to point out again what should be obvious to any decent man.
  • I’m going to give away Gemma’s big, deep dark secret about Chase. She had been in love with him and things were going well. But one night, after her shift ends, she asks David to come pick her up for coffee. He gets in a car accident and Gemma ends up treating him. It’s clear almost instantly that his injuries were too grave for even the best of doctors to save him. I thought her secret was going to be that she was overtired and made a mistake. Or that she blamed herself for not learning some new technique to save him. Nope. She blames herself because she invited him to coffee. Seriously. That’s her big secret. She invited a guy she loved for coffee once and he ended up in a fatal accident. For this she is torn up with guilt. She also dives in to her job because of it. I get the second part, and seriously, I know that grief does strange things to the mind but why would she think this was such a dark secret that she couldn’t ever love someone else because of it? +7 suckiness points for fake secrets.
  • The little romance with Livie and the Italian boy doesn’t go anywhere and she moves on like a perfectly healthy 14 year old girl should. -8 for not making it weird.
  • The book ends with telling us that they get married and live in the villa but whether they stay there or make it a hotel or whatever “is another story”. Good God, there’s going to be a sequel? Please, please, I am begging you, just.. just… don’t okay? +7 suckiness points for sequelitis (undiagnosed by Gemma obviously).

Suckiness meter deactivate!

Well, there you have it, the patent-pending, scientifically tested, completely reliable, totally untested and unscientific suckiness meter worked like a charm! So what was the total?

Sucks = 97. Points taken away for non-suckiness = 20. Grand total of sucks = 77.

If you ever need to tell anyone how this book is, just let them know it sucks 77.

I hope you enjoyed reading this review more than I did reading this book. Next week I am going to be diving into paranormal romance with Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong. A whole store of magic?! For a dime?! Count me in!. Uh, hey can I borrow a dime?

Patent pendingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Desert Island Bookshelf

Here I am stuck in a dungeon with nothing but bad books to read. But sometimes I wonder what books I would put on my ideal bookshelf. If I was stranded on a desert island instead of this place, what five books would I most want to have with me? My list is below.

  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – I know, I know, this is three books. But, it was intended to be one book so I am counting it as one. I can re-read this over and over and every single time I find something new to marvel at. It’s my favorite book ever.
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – It’s an American classic and it even now seems to say everything you need to know about love, life and wealth.
  • The Stand by Stephen King – I had to have a novel by the worlds best horror writer. Technically this one is not exactly horror but it’s an amazing read.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas – Intrigue, revenge, politics, non-stop action, this book has everything to make a story great.
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding – To remind myself how bad things can go wrong on a desert island. And because it’s a gripping, excellent read.

What are the five books you would bring on a desert island? Let me know in the comments.

Stranded-ly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Catwoman – #MovieReview

so much potential yet so bad

In a world where cosmetic company executives are megalomaniacal jerks with no ethics…. wait that’s our world.

In a world where all the women think Benjamin Bratt is super hot… wait, still our world.

In a world where Halle Berry’s coworkers give her leather outfits for birthday presents… wait, probably our world again.

I’ve got it this time!

In a world where everyone’s favorite Catwoman is Patience Phillips (yeah definitely not our world) come along for a journey that could have been good but went as sour as a cat’s milk bowl left alone for a month.

Slick Dungeon here and I watch bad movies so you don’t need to. This week I put my eyeballs through Catwoman. I’ll give you a quick plot description and then I have some suggestions for this thing. So DC executives, if you are reading this, meet me at any time with lots of money and I’ll be happy to discuss further.

This film is about a meek woman named Patience Phillips who wants to be an artist but ends up working for a beauty company and making ads for them. The owner of the company is an evil jerk and his wife is even worse. See this beauty product is addictive and if you stop using it, your skin turns to rotted flesh. But also, if you keep using it, apparently you have some kind of super hard skin because, science.

Patience accidentally stumbles onto this evilness by trying to turn in her work at midnight in an off limits section of the office that she has no trouble walking through. The executive promptly kills Patience by flushing her out of a sewer pipe that is way too high up on the building to be realistic.

It’s not all bad news for Patience though because earlier in the day, she tried to rescue a cat outside of her building. As she was doing this, a cop named Tom Lone sees her and thinks she’s about to jump. So he rescues her by running up the stairs in a big apartment complex in under five seconds, going through her door which I have to assume was unlocked and catching her. They hit it off obviously.

Obviously also, is that the cat is a demigod cat who gives Patience cat CPR to revive her after she is flushed out into the water. So now Patience is not dead and she totally has the powers of a house cat. Okay, I’ll be generous, maybe it’s the powers of an outdoor cat. But Patience now has a memory gap.

She spends the next day doing things that are odd like you know, eating a ton of tuna, quitting her job, jumping around more than normal and having quicker reflexes than one would expect. I think this was also where she broke a date with Tom the police officer. Then in the evening she robs some jewelry and also beats up other jewel robbers. She decides to return the jewels and she writes the word sorry on it.

The next day she has a date with Tom in which she plays basketball according to no rules in any basketball game but apparently cats can dunk. With the help of very heavy editing. At one point she hands him a cup that says sorry on it.

While all the women stare at Tom because he is hot, he seems pretty dumb because he can’t put two and two together nor can he recognize Patience as Catwoman even though you can see most of her face. But that’s a DC problem not a Catwoman specific problem.

The rest of the movie is basically Patience figuring out that the beauty executive’s wife knows all about the evil beauty product and she’s willing to kill to make sure the thing goes on the market. It’s also about Officer Tom really being a bad detective and not understanding handwriting or evidence of any kind at any point until someone confesses to his face. There’s also a part where Patience meets her own personal Yoda. This is a crazy cat lady who somehow owns a huge place with tons of precious artifacts despite the fact that she had to quit teaching because she couldn’t gain tenure at a university due to sexist jerks. But you know, she does have the whole demigod cat thing living with her, so it evens out. She’s able to confirm that Patience is one of the “Catwomen” because she tosses catnip at Patience, who then rubs it all over her face. That’s apparently the test.

We get to see a fight between Halle Berry as Catwoman and Sharon Stone as Laurel Hedare who is just a woman with tough skin that looks younger than you would expect. Catwoman wins. Spoiler. Then Tom tries to get Patience to hang around and go steady with him but Patience is like, ” You see, sometimes I’m good. Oh, I’m very good. But sometimes I’m bad. But only as bad as I wanna be. Freedom is power. To live a life untamed and unafraid is the gift that I’ve been given, and so my journey begins.”

At that point we all know that there will never, ever, ever be a sequel to this train wreck and none of us mind.

But here’s the thing with this movie. It could have been good! There are parts that might have been interesting. Patience lives in a part of Gotham we don’t see very much. It’s where the real privilege in the city is and she’s just a basic worker there. We don’t have to have Batman to see that. They could have used the worlds favorite Catwoman, Selina Kyle. Halle Berry still could have played the character of Selena no problem.

And there was absolutely no need to give Catwoman supernatural powers. She is a cat burglar, not a freaking cat.

The villain was coming from a different angle than the weird and wonderful world of the Joker but could have been just as terrifying by really getting away with anything just by having money. It also would have been nice to just see Bruce Wayne somewhere in there and we could see that even Batman is not all powerful when it comes to the wealthy and that would have been really interesting.

Catwoman is supposed to operate in a gray area but Patience just seems wishy washy instead.

And while the performances could have been better, I honestly don’t think this one was Halle Berry’s fault. Yes, she had some terrible lines but she did not write the script. Yes, she delivered some lines really badly but the director didn’t choose to put in a better take. Also, she had a really good sense of humor about the whole thing. If you doubt me, watch her acceptance speech for her Razzie (be warned there is foul language) – it’s the best one I have ever seen. If you have to be in a bad movie, this is the way to be gracious about it.

So to sum up, next time you want to make a movie, DC, come and talk with me first. It’s going to prevent you from making a terrible mistake and it’s going to gain me lots of money so everyone wins.

I hope you enjoyed my review of Catwoman. If you did come back next week when I review Robot Monster. It’s gotta be better than Monster Robot right?

Supernaturally yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Beach House Reunion – #BookReview

Turtles are the best!

It’s still summer so this week I am reviewing a summer book. The fact that pumpkin spice food is showing up and lots of kids are back in school will not deter me from remembering that we still have a month to go before fall.!

Beach House Reunion is the fifth book in a series about people who live in or come back to a beach house. Written by Mary Alice Monroe, the series is fairly popular and she has certainly hit best seller lists on multiple occasions. If you’re a big fan of hers, you probably are not going to like what I have to say about it. I can see how a certain audience would enjoy this book and I will say that the descriptions of the scenery are poetic and lovely. In addition I can respect the love for the environment and the health of an endangered species that the author shows. The rest of the book though, I could never get into.

The story centers on a few people of different generations who for one reason or another have come back to a beach house to spend the summer or in some cases, the rest of their lives in Charleston, South Carolina. The main focus is on the Rutledge family.

The story mostly centered on Cara, a widowed mother who has just adopted. She spends a good third of the book thinking about how she might be too old to be a mother. I get how you might see that as a problem but she really goes on and on about it. She spends all kinds of time looking for a babysitter for her daughter Hope. She seems gobsmacked to find out that there is something called a nanny. Then her niece Linnea is conscripted for the job and Cara can finally get some work done.

Linnea has her own issues with finding herself a job, you know, other than the nanny thing, and meets and falls in love with a guy named John. Her brother Cooper Pringle Ruteledge (the most one percent name ever) is in over his head with drugs and alcohol because he wants to go to USC and why can’t they just let him go to USC cause he really needs to go to USC.

The whole story is framed with facts about turtles and sea life which I think is supposed to be some kind of metaphor for these women. Also, they are apparently in a group called “Turtle Ladies” that looks for turtle nests to help with the population of the turtles. The turtle facts were probably the best part of this book.

There’s a few other side plots going on but those are the main thrust of the story. I had a few issues with the book so I am going to do my public airing of grievances below.

  • Cara, desperate and tired looks at her adopted daughter and for a moment sees her own mother. Now, personally if I see that, I am making an appointment with a shrink but, nope this all seems perfectly normal to Cara.
  • Later in the book, Cara feels like the ocean and a piece of furniture are her dead husband telling her it’s okay to like, move on and date a new guy. Again, I’d call that hallucinatory but whatever.
  • Because she feels like she never totally got to say goodbye to her husband, Cara, digs a hole in the beach and has Hope drop her wedding ring in it. Really? I mean I get you don’t want to wear it but that seriously seems like a waste. At this point I am really concerned that Cara needs some professional help, stat.
  • Also, Cara adopted a baby girl named Esperanza which I think is a great name. What does Cara do? Immediately translates that pretty name into boring old Hope. It’s her daughter and she can do what she wants but I felt like Esperanza would have been a fine name.
  • At one point Cara is talking to David, the guy she starts dating, and says that he is a “manny” – a male nanny. We don’t need to do that. If you are a guy who is a nanny, you can be a nanny, you don’t have to man-ify it.
  • I know that as new parents it’s hard to be able to do everything but at one point when Hope is crying, instead of hold, comfort or play with her, Cara looks up what to do about crying babies on google. Seems like she might have wanted to read a parenting book at some point? You, know after you get Hope to settle down.
  • David gives Cara a Burberry bag from Harrod’s and she tries to refuse it but then David says it’s insulting not to let a man pick up a tab for a woman. This is not the 1940’s and women can pay for stuff if they want to. There are waaay too many cases of men controlling women by taking control of their finances. How do they start that? By insisting that they should pay for everything. I know it’s not meant that way in the book but I just got tired of the rampant gender stereotyping in this book. Like really tired of it.
  • Cara came from an abusive home from what I can gather from this book. Her father used to get physically violent and her mother did not protect her from it. At one point her brother, Palmer, who is the father of Linnea and Cooper is showing clear signs of alcoholism just like Cara’s father did. Cara doesn’t do much to help him but just thinks he has to hit rock bottom for the cycle to end. Here’s what rock bottom is – throwing a bottle of bourbon at huge portrait and almost hitting your daughter. The fact that he doesn’t hit his daughter, in Cara’s mind, means the whole cycle has ended. B.S. this dude is going to get worse. He does end up going to AA and that might help but I just thought Cara’s attitude about the whole thing was dangerously passive.
  • Also, these people are stinking rich. They own this import/export business. It wasn’t clear what the goods were but that might have been covered in past books. They have big blow up arguments over what prestigious college their kids will attend and you know, own beach houses. Kinda tired of the filthy rich in real life, so reading about them in fiction (when they are not named Jay Gatsby) gets tiresome to me.
  • There is wine or alcohol mentioned like every other passage, yet they wonder why Cooper gets a DUI and overdoses. Can’t have anything to do with the constant availability of alcohol can it??
  • I also had a real hard time with the relationship between Linnea and John. John is a surfer who is staying for the summer before he goes back to San Francisco. He was born in the south and so does have relatives there and I think Linnea’s family knew his somehow but that wasn’t super clear to me. Again that could have been covered in a previous book. But boy howdy did I find this whole thing unbelievable.
  • John and Linnea first bond over the film Gidget and then later over the poem The Highwayman. I am not saying either of those things are bad but it made me wonder if they were college aged, or in their eighties. Gidget? Really? I mean come on, use a more modern reference to relate to the youth.
  • Linnea meets John because she tries to surf on her own and wipes out completely. The book says she looked up some YouTube videos on how to do it before she went. I gotta say, those videos were made by the worst surfers ever. First off, she went surfing alone. No surfer should do that. Second, she didn’t have a leash for the board, didn’t know what it meant to be goofy footed and had no idea how to push up off the board. These are seriously basic things I know and I don’t even surf!
  • At one point John hands Linnea a bottle of water out of a cooler. But before he gives it to her, he wipes it off with a towel and opens it. She is all impressed but what I thought was she is not a toddler!
  • Also, John is supposed to be a great surfer but he wants to go swimming at night in dark water. Hello! Did you not see Jaws? Oh yeah, you were too busy watching Gidget.
  • Towards the end of the book, after one summer together John invites Linnea to come to San Francisco with him to try and get a job. It seemed very transactional and not that romantic all in all but then Linnea sort of implies her father wouldn’t want her to go there without being married. John reasonably says that’s a bit much and Linnea totally agrees, But then she is disappointed he didn’t ask her anyway. Which is it? Also, do you really want to marry a guy you have known for like three months? That’s a bit of a rush.
  • My final question about this book has to do with the “Turtle Ladies”. Do you have to be a woman to join this thing? What if a guy loves turtles too? Are you going to exclude him? Even if he is a manny?

Next week I will be back with another summer read as I review Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler.

Manny-ly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Here’s why zombies are the best monsters

Starbucks is releasing the Pumpkin Spice Latte next week. It’s a little early for fall if you ask me but if they can do it, I can release a blog post related to monsters a little early for Halloween. Enjoy your pre-PSL warm up discussion of fictional monsters below.

I’d say we all have a favorite movie or fiction monster. Some people become obsessed with blood sucking creatures of the night. Others love the creature cobbled together from dead body parts most people incorrectly call Frankenstein (it’s Frankenstein’s monster people, get it straight!) Others are really into those who grow fur and fangs but only on full moons. Werewolves, I’m talking about werewolves if that wasn’t clear. But for me if I could only have stories about one type of creature ever again I definitely go for zombies. Here’s my list of why zombies are the best monsters.

  1. They are versatile – zombies can be a stand in for anything. They can be a metaphor for consumerism, for fear, for mass hysteria, for communism, for outsiders, literally for anything. It always works because zombies are just a mindless horde of creatures and the motivations they get assigned to them are based on what the still living people in the stories think they are. So if the main character thinks these suckers are in a mall all day because that’s what they did in their former lives, boom, this story is about consumerism.
  2. They are unpredictable – sure a slow walking zombie seems like it has it’s attention focused on a dead animal and you might be able to sneak by it but one snap of a twig and that thing and all its buddies have decided on fresh meat and next thing you know you are running like crazy.
  3. They can be anyone at any time – this goes along with them being unpredictable, but it happens in nearly all zombie stories. Someone has been bit. Their natural instinct is to hide it and although they start acting funny, no one wants to say anything because it’s someone they care about. Sure, the best thing for the group is to get rid of that person but that is cruel and heartless. So next thing you know, a whole group of non-infected people are now zombies. And it happens so fast it can’t be stopped.
  4. They are us – A person is bitten by a zombie and they turn. But this person is your wife, husband, brother, friend, cousin etc. This is someone you know. And although you know for a fact that they are no longer human, how hard would it be to stop this walking reflection of someone you held dearly in your heart only moments ago? I feel like there might not be a more terrifying scenario in fiction.
  5. They are never ending – Stop a werewolf? Use a silver bullet. Stop a nest of vampires? Stake the original vampire in the heart. Stop one zombie? Usually damage its brain. But unlike vampires and werewolves, the only way to completely and forever get rid of zombies is to once and for all get rid of people. I don’t think any of us wants that. The next best thing is to hope for a cure. Even if you can get that, you have to hope it sticks and the odds are not good because, well, everyone is a little different and there could be that one person that doesn’t respond to the cure. Then that person infects the next and here we go again, only this time, the infection is stronger.
  6. They have the coolest origin story – At their start, zombies were just people who had been hypnotized and essentially given up the will to live. They were seen this way for centuries but then, one movie wiped all of that out in one swoop and zombies have been different ever since. When Night of the Living Dead came out, George A. Romero redefined one of the most recognizable and iconic of creatures so much that his version of zombies is now the most recognizable one. That is incredibly bold and influential film making.
  7. They are the most likely to happen in reality – Could vampires exist? Maybe, I mean, there have been people who thought they were vampires and there are a few stories of historical figures who did very strange things with blood. But we know that a lot of the origin of that myth has to do with the misunderstanding of how bodies decompose. Could werewolves happen? There’s a ton of stories of people morphing into animals in one way or another, some of them benign, some malevolent. But there is no scientific evidence that I am aware of that would make werewolves at all likely. Could zombies happen? Well, there is a lot we are yet to understand about the brain. We have untold fungus, bacteria, disease out in the world that we do not understand. We have scientific research going on that could lead to very bad things getting out into the world. I’m not saying it’s likely or anything, but the right confluence of factors could lead to a disease of some sort getting out that strongly reflects our modern concept of zombies. It’s the only fictional monster that I can think of where this is even a remote possibility. For me, that’s enough to make them my favorite and the ones I am most likely to be frightened by.

So what do you think? Do you have a counter argument? Is there a better monster out there in fiction? Which creatures keep you awake at night? Let me know in the comments.

Zombie-rifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Bloody Bloody Bible Camp – #MovieReview

please hold still for decapitation

Well hello out there in the world. Slick Dungeon here, ready to tell you all about a movie I just watched. Is it an Oscar contender? Is it going to win any SAG awards? Is it full of stellar acting, brilliant plotting and the most heartwarming emotions you will ever see put on film? Should you watch it? No, no, no and heck yes you should see it! What is this film you speak of Slick? It’s Bloody Bloody Bible Camp.

If you don’t enjoy horror and have a low tolerance for gore, don’t watch this but if you have the stomach for it, this film is a lot of fun. Also, if you are particularly religious this might be offensive but I think that’s obvious from the title and cover. It’s a throwback to slasher films like Friday the 13th or Halloween but with more religion and less suspense. If you do want to watch this but don’t want spoilers, you have been forewarned to stop reading at this point. Grab a s’more sing a hymn, watch the film and come back.

Still with me? Okay good. Bloody good. Bloody Bloody good. Our film starts off with a group of teens who are clearly portrayed by adults, at Happy Day Bible Camp in 1977. Right off we know that there will be tons of death and unnecessary nudity and buckets of blood. I mean, what else do you expect from that title? In the first few moments one of the characters says that Star Wars sucks so I wanted him to die because, that’s definitely a sin to say. I was not disappointed.

Someone with an ax and a crucifix with a knife on the bottom goes through and decimates the campers one by one. Why exactly the people in the camp stand and scream as an ax comes at their heads is a little beyond me. I mean. run right? But anyway, that’s definitely harder to film special effects wise so I guess that’s the reason? Anyway there are a few gruesome deaths and we as the audience know for sure that more will come.

We flash forward to 1984 where a group of campers comes along to try the camp out and perhaps purchase it. We get the obligatory townsfolk warning the campers off only to be completely ignored. But we are the audience and we are smart so we know that the fact that one of them doesn’t even want to go into the store where these locals are means she probably knows something more.

We see an older adult refer to a bunch of definitely not teenagers as kids over and over. We get to see a grown man air high five himself and say “Tad!” for no apparent reason. We get to see grown women contemplate religion and analyze, let’s just say parts of their anatomy. We watch as some of the guys try to hook up with some of the girls and other guys get to be the picked on overweight kid. It’s pretty obvious most of them are gonna die so I put my money on the one questioning religion as a definite survivor, the picked on “kid” as a fifty percent chance and the leader of the bible camp as likely to be the one to off the serial killer.

After quite a few silly jokes and comments in the woods (a smartly cheap place to make a film btw) it gets to be night and one of the adult counselors goes to get some beer. Then it is on, the killing spree begins. Twice in the movie the killer decapitates someone and then repositions the body so that the head falls off for the next victim and the killer catches them by surprise. Classic. Of course both times it’s kind of on the victim because they stay where they are once they see the killer rather than, say, duck, move or fight back in literally any way.

We also get to see the blood spurt in the fun old eighties style where there is no CGI just someone pumping that corn syrup or whatever they use out. One by one the campers are decimated once again but this time we get flashbacks to a little kid being verbally abused by a nun. It’s pretty clear that this kid is the killer and is in need of major therapy. The killer goes on, swatting down campers and reciting bible verses over and over.

Back in town we find out that one of the locals had survived the last incident like this, albeit with severe brain trauma as a result. His brother finds out that this guy has left in hopes of getting himself some revenge. So he goes out to try and save the day. He said that with so much conviction, I actually shifted my money onto him as a survivor.

In the camp we find out that the guy running the bible camp, wanting to buy it knew all along what had happened here seven years ago. We also find out that, yes indeed, the woman who wouldn’t go into the store had been there seven years ago. To which I thought, why in the world would you go back there? Especially knowing the killer had not been caught. Also, it seems like the killer camps near by so, wow, there are some bad detectives around the area. I could say that about a lot of slasher films though.

For a moment it seemed that I was wrong about the leader of the bible camp being the one to bring down the killer, who we start to learn is a man who dresses up as a nun with a devil mask. Never really explained why the devil mask is worn but, sure why not? But then this movie pulled a move I didn’t expect. There’s a cameo in here where an actor known for, uh… other kinds of movies… shows up as Jesus. It’s not as good of a cameo as Bill Murray in Zombieland but it’s close. Jesus gives the bible camp director a weirdly offensive message of acceptance and boom, he’s back up after having been slashed.

I was starting to think I was a decent gambler because he was still alive, the guy who warned the bible camper was still alive and so was the camper who questioned religion and even the picked on kid was still kickin’. But then Sister Mary Chopper (very decent killer name) shows up and stabs the the guy who warned the campers away in the neck. Then she drops a cinder block on the picked on kid. Now I want to call out this particular head destruction. They drop a cinder block on the guys head. I had to watch this twice because the editing here was seamless. You can’t tell when they moved the actual actor out of the way at all. Best death in the movie in my opinion. But now, I am losing half my bet.

Everyone kind of stands around watching as the killer does the last two murders I just described. Who would not run??? We also find out that the killer is a guy we saw in the store early on in the film. He had been walking around as what you might call a goth, I guess but I was pretty sure that was the killer to begin with. But confirmed here. Then the leader of the camp has his big battle with the Sister. It’s kind of played a little too much for laughs towards the end and I think the movie might have benefited from making that more serious but that’s a minor nitpick. However, he saves the day and all is good.

But wait! Post credit scene! We see that Sister Mary Chopper sits up again. And that one of the girls we thought was dead is not. She just comes on to make a joke though so I don’t know if we count that as true survival.

I really actually enjoyed this movie, even if most people probably wouldn’t. You have to have a sense of humor and a high tolerance for gore. But here’s the biggest compliment I can pay this. While I was watching it, I thought that it had actually been made in the eighties or nineties and that I had somehow missed it. It’s exactly the kind of movie my friends and I would have rented for a slumber party when I was a kid. Turns out this thing was made in 2011. I am so glad there are people still out there making stuff like this. Kudos to Reggie Bannister, Vito Trabucco and literally everyone else involved in this film. You have made a movie so bad it’s good and I loved it.

Next week, I am going to slog through an Academy Award winning actress’ almost finest work as I force my eyeballs to stay open for Halle Berry’s Catwoman

Bloodily Yours,

Slick Dungeon

Snacks for fueling through B Films

Slick Dungeon here, coming to you from the damp and musty cave dungeon that I call home. Tonight I am going to be watching Bloody Bloody Bible Camp and while I will be posting my review on Monday, I thought I would share with you what it takes to get me through these films, Here are Slick Dungeon’s essential snacks for watching films that are never going to win any awards.

  • Pizza – you’ve got to have a main course and this is it. Heck, put enough vegetables on it and it’s almost like a salad on bread! Who wants salad on bread? Not me!
  • Flamin’ Hot Cheetos – I assume that some of the people in this film are going to end up where it’s flamin’ hot below. I figured I might as well have the smallest sampling of the experience.
  • Caffeinated soda – I don’t really care what kind. Give me any soda that will keep me awake, not only for this film but for a second feature I might have to watch if this one actually turns out to be scary.
  • Popcorn – well, duh. Yeah, I needs me some popcorn for watching, well, literally anything from presidential debates to films where people get decapitated.
  • Crispy M&M’s – There are not a lot of rules in my dungeon. Here’s the main one, KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY CRISPY M&M’s!!!!! This is the best kind of candy ever made, hands down and you can’t convince me otherwise.
  • Ice cream – I am partial to Ben & Jerry’s and their Phish food flavor but I’ll take just about any kind of ice cream, honestly.

The only drawback to eating all these snacks is that I have to do extra laps around the dungeon the next day in hopes that I will some day fit out of an escape tunnel here. So what are your favorite film snacks? Got any candy you would release a Tarrasque or 30-50 feral hogs to keep other people away from? Let me know in the comments.

Hungrily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Romancing the Duke – #BookReview

Dating 101

Hey everyone, Slick, here back to tell you all about the book I read this week. Let me start off by saying that I am not a fan of romance books. I am not a fan of historical romances unless they are written by Diana Gabaldon. And while I won’t say I am a fan of Romancing the Duke, I will say, I did not hate this book in the way I expected to. I thought it was going to be utter and complete garbage. But, if you like romances and you know what to expect from romances, this book is pretty decent.

There are a few things this book gets right and I want to call those out right off. So, if you want to read this, consider this the valet/footman/butler calling down the hall: SPOILERS AHEAD.

This story centers on a Duke (obviously) and the woman who romances him (obviously). In the story he is blind and I thought the whole time that there was going to be some kind of miracle where he got his sight back. That never happened. What’s more, the blindness is accurately described as the Duke can see sometimes enough to make out shapes but he’s still most definitely blind. So kudos to the author for not falling into the all or nothing blindness trope along with the miracle cure trope.

Also, this book has a clear understanding of what it is. It’s a fun little romance between two people and doesn’t really expect more out of itself. The uh… shall we say steamy… parts are just that and it doesn’t bash you over the head with it too much. So again kudos.

The last good thing to call out is that this does have a realistic understanding of how women were disadvantaged by societal rules in the past. (Still are in many instances but let’s stick to the book). It’s clear that men control the property and inheritance and that it would be considered extremely unseemly and unlikely for a woman to be an author, despite the fact of, you know, all the female authors out there at the time.

But as I was reading this, I realized that this book actually is an instruction manual on dating. To give you the highlights, I am going to list the steps to getting your own Duke, or romance, depending on if you are the Duke or the romancer. Also, this book is clearly for hetero relationships so I can’t say this is a foolproof guide to dating for everyone.

Without further ado, I present to you, Slick Dungeon’s foolproof guide to dating for everyone.

Step 1: Live in the time and area when Dukes who have a massive estate but are unclaimed bachelors seem to be as easy to find as dropping a pebble into a pond. Alternatively, be one of these Dukes.

Step 2: Get involved in a tangled property dispute over a castle that the Duke owns but that you think you own, show up at his door and faint. Alternatively be the Duke, open the door, catch a feinting woman and immediately think to yourself that her hair is “predatory”.

Step 3: Have a father who writes literary fantasy stories and has named you something romantic, like, say, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight. Alternatively, have a manly man’s name like, say, Ransom, Duke of Rothbury, and be scarred in battle after having your intended elope with another, then fight her suitor in a duel with swords causing you to go blind, then go back to live alone in your castle for so many months that everyone thinks you might just be dead.

Step 4: After you faint let the Duke undress you, make you more comfortable, put you in bed but don’t quite sleep through the night, wake up, and nearly immediately mention that you make excellent pancakes. Alternatively, awkwardly undress the woman who fainted at your door and place her in a bed, figuring she is just some stranger who will most likely leave in the morning and assume she fainted because your scarred face is monstrous.

Step 5: Think to yourself that you own this castle but even if this Duke is who he says he is, he doesn’t own this castle because it is yours now but also marvel at how devilishly handsome the man is and that even though you are determined to keep the castle, keeping the Duke might be a bonus. Alternatively, be outraged internally that a woman who showed up trying to take your home that you are definitely not giving up, offered to make you, of all things in the world…. pancakes.

Step 6: Scare the heck out of the Duke who seems to be a bit of a jerk by not informing him of the ermine that is hanging out in your bag. Alternatively, be the Duke and get bit by an ermine and exclaim several profanities while asking what that was and ultimately admit that you are visually impaired, but internally, refer to this woman’s hair as an octopus.

Step 7: Offer to go through the Duke’s correspondence to sort this whole property dispute out but also go about as if you own this whole dang castle already cause, like, you do right? Alternatively, try and get this freaking woman with her predatory, octopus hair having, pancake making, butt out of here by scaring her with bats and/or also offer her a job to go through your correspondence and also kiss the woman that you wish would just leave already.

Step 8: Step up steaminess. Alternatively, step up steaminess.

Step 9: Have this whole host of people show up who are like a fan club of your father’s writing and be super embarrassed about it, but also enjoy the fact that the Duke has stepped up the steaminess. Alternatively, be annoyed that this whole host of people has shown up to disrupt your life, but like totally, keep the steaminess going for sure.

Step 10: Have the inevitable blow up where you are just trying to help the Duke and prove he is sane so he can keep this dang castle that is supposed to be yours but is his but doesn’t really matter because maybe you’ll get married anyway. Alternatively have the inevitable blow up because this woman won’t leave you alone and you are clearly trying to help her but are more interested in the steamy parts but then again, she seems like the perfect woman so maybe you’ll just marry her.

Step 11: Admit that you are actually the writer of the books, not your father and that also, you think you are not beautiful, despite the fact that this Duke clearly has the serious hots for you. Alternatively, admit that your father was a total jerk and that you only became blind because you more or less let the guy you were fighting win because you didn’t want to actually kill the dude, nor did you love the girl you were engaged to, and also finally be nice to this woman’s friends.

Step 12: Get the whole property/sanity thing sorted out, marry the Duke, make pancakes, get pregnant, write more and get slammed by literary critics who are too stupid to realize this is the same author they just praised, all while still keeping it steamy. Alternatively, get the whole property/sanity thing sorted out, marry the woman, eat pancakes, build a nursery, listen to bad reviews of your new wife’s work and get irritated all while keeping it steamy.

There you have it. I guarantee if you follow all those steps, you will have either romanced or been romanced by a Duke.

Next week we’re going to go back to being a little more contemporary as I read The Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe. It’s about time someone put that dang thing back together!

Steamily yours,

Slick Dungeon

My Favorite Places to Read

Hey, Slick, where are your favorite places to read I ask myself. Why, I am so glad you asked that, Slick, I answer myself. I read quite a lot and although, I tend to be a somewhat slow reader compared to many of my peers, I do read more than the average human shaped entity. I’ve got a few places I really like to read. For no particular reason, I listed these below. Do you have a favorite place to read? Do you like it more when there is no one around or if there is a crowd around you? Let me know in the comments.

  • In bed before I fall asleep. Who doesn’t love curling up with a good book as you are about to head off to sleep? I do have to be careful with this one sometimes though because if a book is good enough, I am reading all night and getting zero sleep.
  • While camping. I absolutely love reading while outdoors. Especially if I am reading a fantasy novel. I can easily imagine the events taking place in the Shire happening right where I am. The only real drawback is if the bugs start gnawing at my flesh. In a way that just adds to the imagination though.
  • On the train. There’s something hypnotic about reading while the countryside passes you by. The tricky part about this one for me, is that sometimes people will see that you are reading a book and try to strike up a conversation with you about the book. Apparently these people don’t realize I would rather be reading but, whatever. And on a very rare occasion I do end up talking to a book lover I can relate to so I guess it’s not all bad. I usually put on headphones so that I can prevent the conversation but it’s nowhere near one hundred percent effective.
  • At work. Okay so again, this is one to be careful with but every once in a while, I would sneak off into the bathroom and read a book on my phone for a few minutes. I only recommend doing this when you really don’t have anything to do for a few minutes and with a book you know you won’t get absolutely engrossed in. If you get a lunchtime at work, that’s also a good time to go have a bit of a read.
  • On a stormy and cold night in front of a fire. This situation, in my opinion, is best suited for reading horror novels. Stephen King and I have shared many, many hours this way, and that man can still haunt the heck out of my dreams. I can’t get enough of his books.
  • In my dungeon. Yep, right here in this dungeon that I fell into, I love reading because, well, that’s what there is to do here. That and watch bad movies but hey, it’s better than falling into a pit trap or battling off a horde of Orcs, am I right? Yeah, I am.

Eruditely yours,

Slick Dungeon

Waterworld – #Moviereview

Looking for Dryland, watch out for jetskis

Hey there landlubbers. This is Slick, I live in a dungeon and I review movies that most people can’t stand. Let’s talk about Waterworld.

Believe it or not, there was a time when Kevin Costner wasn’t just famous for being the voice of a dog that loves car racing. He was also known for being the web footed, gill having, urine recycled water drinking, hero of the major Hollywood flop, Waterworld.

It’s the year, the future, and the polar ice caps have melted, causing the Earth to be drowned in water. In 1995 that sounded like a much more remote possibility than it does now. The filmmakers hadn’t figured out the true cost and difficulty of filming this thing on the water. You can’t shoot while planes are flying or you can see the Los Angeles skyscrapers in the background, so everything took forever to set up and there had to be multiple re-takes for everything. Plus, this not only had Kevin Costner raking in the big bucks but Dennis Hopper hamming it up for the cash too. This guaranteed that Waterworld had to be the hugest blockbuster this side of Jaws to make any money for anyone. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it was nearly universally hated by critics and audiences alike when it came out.

But the question remains, is this movie any good? If you ignore the history and just watch the film, can it work on an entertainment level? Nooooooooooope. It’s still pretty bad. Although, I could see how this one could reach a kind of cult status. It does have some dedicated fans and I suppose there could be a CGI remake or something that might work somehow with this thing. But for that to happen, a lot of things would have to change. That’s not to say you shouldn’t watch this though.

You can think of this film as Road Warrior but on the water. Land is scarce and basically considered a myth by the people inhabiting the planet. But there’s a never named drifter played by Kevin Costner who seems to be able to find dirt whenever he wants, There’s also a little girl named Enola who has a tattoo on her back that might be a clue to finding dry land. There’s a group of crazy jet ski riding, machine gun having, “Smokers” led by Dennis Hopper who want to get the tattoo map and find that good ol’ dry land for themselves. Why? Because the boat they are on, the Exxon Valdez is running out of oil and they need it for their tractor pulls! But don’t worry, the drifter guy is gonna save Enola. Well, eventually. You know, after he tosses her in the water, threatens to leave her behind and basically sells her mom to a dude for paper. But after that, man you better watch out because that guy who’s name we don’t know is gonna be out for blood against these Smokers.

Visually, this movie isn’t that bad. It’s got a kind of steampunk feel to it, not that different from the latest Mad Max movie. I do think, the fact that the boats everyone rides around on had to be made and exist in three dimensions actually helps this film. The acting isn’t bad either. Sure Dennis Hopper goes over the top with his performance but it’s done in a fun and relatively entertaining way. The little girl and her mother deliver serviceable performances and so do most of the extras around the film. Kevin Costner’s acting wasn’t bad although his accent is certainly a little weird here.

You know what I think makes people not like this movie? What a complete and total jerk Kevin Costner’s character is. He’s a drifter out on the sea and he barely says two words to anyone. People help him to survive an attack by the Smokers and he promptly wants to toss a little girl who can’t swim overboard. (Wouldn’t that be like the first thing you teach kids in this world but whatever). He’s considered a freak because he has webbed toes and actual gills. Let’s just never mind the fact that’s not how evolution works at all and go with it for a minute. I didn’t have that much of a problem with the gills and all but the jerkiness was messed up. At one point the dude does actually toss the girl overboard. He also chops off her mother’s hair and then her hair, because he was big and intimidating to them and they touched his stuff. Not sure I can get behind a hero like that but at least I can think, hey in the end he’ll come through. But then a dude comes along and asks to buy the mom and the girl, Obviously disgusting stuff going on there. The drifter doesn’t stoop so low as selling the girl but he sure does “rent out” the mom for a half an hour. The drifter does come in and stop the guy before he does anything too bad, but by then it’s too late for me to get behind this hero anymore.

The drifter dude then shows the mom how he’s been getting dirt. His gills let him get to the bottom of the ocean here all our cities, cars and nacho cheese has been buried under water. He’s just been grabbing this stuff cause he can hold his breath longer than other people and then trading the dirt for the stuff he needs. So this dry land thing could still be a myth.

But not only is the drifter a jerk, he’s a moron. While he was down below, the Smokers show up and kidnap Enola. By the way, while watching this movie, I defy you to be able to not think the first few times that they are actually calling this girl granola. But anyway, she’s kidnapped. Now the drifter has to go and save her. I didn’t buy at all that he would want to do that, period. He really seemed to have no empathy for anyone but himself. But obviously, Kevin Costner doesn’t want us hating him for his acting choices so he goes ahead and takes on the smokers, blows up their ship and saves the girl.

Here’s the reason you should watch this movie. The fights in this spot are actually really fun. From watching the dudes on the Valdez drive around a rusted car, to Kevin Costner calling out Dennis Hopper, to the old dude in the bottom of the boat thanking God for death, I got lots of chuckles. The rest of the movie, I could pretty much take or leave. Well, except for the drifter. I could leave him. It had me almost wishing they had tried to make this into a comedy. That I could have gotten behind.

So next time, if you’re wondering if you should go back and see some of Kevin Costner’s classics, include uh… parts of… Waterworld.

Next week, be sure to put on your Sunday shoes because I will be reviewing Bloody Bloody Bible Camp. You know it’s good cause it has an extra Bloody.

Soggily yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Anyone Else Out There Get Zombie Anxiety Dreams on a Regular Basis?

I watch a lot of television and films with different kinds of monsters in them. Same for the books I read. But for me, there’s one type of monster that no matter what, when I see it, or read it, or even think about it for more than five minutes, I end up having a nightmare about it. It doesn’t matter if I am watching Zombieland, Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days later or Shaun of the Dead. It doesn’t matter if I am reading a quality zombie book, or a terrible zombie book, or anything in between. Every time I read this stuff I have a nightmare. I love these stories so I keep reading and watching. Just wondering if anyone else out there has this happen to them? Do you have another type of creature that does that for you? I can watch vampire movies and read vampire books until the sun comes up (see what I did there?) and no trouble in my dreams. Werewolves, no problem. But if you put a flesh eating crowd monster in my head. it’s there to stay. Let me know what your favorite nightmare monster is in the comments.

Sleep Deprivedly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Armada – #Book Review

Have you read this before? yes. Yes you have.

Sometimes you read a book full of pop culture references with a cool story about a video game player and you think, “I wish Steven Spielberg would make a movie out of this.” And sometimes the author of that book writes a second book that proves that was a one time experience. Welcome to Armada by Ernest Cline.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Actually, scratch that, don’t stop me because you have heard it before but read this review anyway.

From the opening moments of this book, I kept wondering what science fiction story this was ripping off. The answer? All of them. I mean it. There is pretty much no science fiction story here that is not referenced or mimicked in this book. It is so chocked full of direct quotes and references that I began to wonder what percentage of a book has to be original not to be considered plagiarized. I know that a lot of people like Easter eggs and find them fun when you can recognize them in books or movies. I like it too, especially in a Marvel film that might give a hint of what’s to come. But this wasn’t like that. It was more like the Easter bunny firing a rapid fire Easter egg grenade launcher at your face.

I wish that was the only problem with this book but boy, howdy, is this thing a walking disaster.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re a senior in High School on his last semester who has daddy issues because your father died in a sewage treatment explosion just after you were born. To deal with the tragedy, you spend your life obsessed with all the video games, movies, books and music that your father left behind. You play a new game called Armada but are a little worried about your mental state because your father left some notebooks behind with a timeline that seems kinda crazy. Not only that but the notebook makes it seem like there is a global conspiracy to cover up the fact that we have already made contact with aliens. Then you see a spaceship that looks directly like the one from Armada. Your boss who is a used video game store owner shows up with a secretive government agency right out of the video game you happen to be really good at. You get recruited to fight against these aliens by playing your favorite video game that is now real. Lucky for you, you are recruited moments before you were about to beat up a guy with a tire iron because he said bad stuff about your dad. While waiting around to get the full story, you meet a beautiful girl who is smart and also an awesome video game player who is instantly attracted to you. Carl Sagan then gives you a briefing about the aliens and how every science fiction movie, book, or video game has been used to get the population prepared for the knowledge that aliens are out there. Not only that, Star Wars, and all the cool stuff you love, was actually funded by the government for that very purpose. Oh, and not only that but the video games you have been playing happen to function the exact way the real weapons that the government has reverse engineered from the aliens work. Since the whole world plays video games, our best and brightest aren’t people like astronauts and math geniuses, it’s actually the people who have been logging the most online hours playing video games. This all seems pretty weird to you but you roll with it because you feel like you were always meant for some bigger destiny. You are also shocked and amazed at every single new revelation in the whole thing. Like you see the video game ship in real life and go, “That’s not possible.” Then you are taken into a big old government training facility and see the guy from the video game and go, “Even though I now believe the ship is real, I don’t believe the dude is real” And then you find out your dad is alive and had been recruited by the video game dude years ago and you go, “Even though I now believe the ship is real and the dude is real, I don’t actually believe my dad is alive.” And then they take you to the moon to meet your dad and you go, “Even though I now believe the ship is real, that the video game dude is real, that my dad is alive, I still didn’t really believe there was a moon base…” (Ok, I think you get the point.) Then on your first mission with the real drones you screw up but still get to fight because, you’re still good at the video game. Then your dad tells you all about how he figured out there was this conspiracy and not only that, your dad thinks that the aliens may not actually want to kill us. Then you watch your dad almost die trying to prove his point. Because you have a very hard time believing things that are clearly obvious, you still don’t quite believe him so you go back to your home town of Beaverton, Oregon and run it by your two best friends. They argue a lot, while your mom and dad get reacquainted and you convince everyone your dad was right. Well, almost everyone because the video game guy doesn’t believe it and wants to blow the aliens to kingdom come. So, now you need your two best friends, the people you met on the moon base, your dad, and the hot girl you met at the mission briefing to help you out while you go blow up the super weapon that Earth has come up with before we do something really stupid and get the whole planet destroyed by these aliens. You are also able to excuse global warming and a whole host of other problems because clearly the aliens are a bigger threat. So, after your dad actually gets himself killed, on the day that you finally met him, you go after the weapon and blow that to kingdom come. Then the aliens start talking to you and telling you that humanity has just passed “the test” so we’re all good now, welcome to a new galactic society that you as the dude who blew up that weapon get to decide if we are joining or not. Thankfully you say yes because no would have meant that the aliens would blow us up anyway. Also, the aliens aren’t aliens but actually just some kind of robotic thing that was left behind on Europa to, you know, watch us. Then you go back home, get to run the used video game store, are a celebrity, sign an autograph for the guy you almost beat with a tire iron that one time, get married to the beautiful girl you met at the briefing, and have a kid you name after yourself and your father. Then you basically get to live out a normal happy life.

Spoiler alert. Shoot, probably should have put that up higher.

Here’s a few answers to if this has happened to you from some random people I polled on the street.

Ender Wiggins [Ender’s Game] – “Sounds pretty familiar but it was a little different”

Alex Rogan [The Last Starfighter] – “I think I was in that story”

Doug Masters [Iron Eagle] – “Well, there were no aliens but my dad’s plane did get shot down”

Well, there you have it folks, it’s a pretty common occurrence. Even with that being said, I still had more problems with this book.

  • I actually listened to this as an audiobook and while I love ya Will Wheaton, your Carl Sagan somehow sounds exactly like George Takei. How is that even possible?
  • They claim that the government funded Star Wars??? Hands off my favorite film franchise man, I’m not having it! It made me want to get Daisy Ridley to slice the book in half with a lightsaber.
  • It made zero sense to me that the government goes to all that expense of cover ups to then just be like, yup there are aliens everyone, watch out when the aliens attack
  • There are a lot of crazy things in this book and I am pretty good at suspending my disbelief but there is no way that Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking and Neil Degrasse Tyson all went in on the covering aliens up thing. Not a freaking chance, period. To me, this was the least believable thing in the book.
  • They recruit these gamers under complete duress and basically kidnap them and tell them they can either sign up or wimp out cause the aliens are about to attack. The second I got back from that, I am hiring a good lawyer and getting out of this contract.
  • Finally, this book was just such a huge disappointment because Ernest Cline has written a good book. I hope he has it in him to pull out another good story, but man am I going to be hesitant to give it a try.

Next week I am going to get off the Sci-Fi bandwagon and give a read to Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare. I wasn’t sure which Duke she was talking about but it’s romancing the Duke, so it’s that one.

Repetitively Yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Awesome blogs to read for #NationalBookLoversDay

Friday August 9th is #NationalBookLoversDay! On my blog I usually tear into books that I did not enjoy reading. However, I do love books and reading. Below are a bunch of blogs that I really like to read that have to do with books. After that, when you are ready once again to find out what books not to read, come back to https://slickdungeon.blog and read about the worst of the worst. Until then, enjoy these blogs.

A Book. A Thought: Very insightful reviews and book related happenings here: https://abookathoughtblog.wordpress.com

A Book Nation: Lots of book reviews and recommendations here. Also if you are a budding author, this blogger offers a manuscript service. Might be a good idea to splurge on that if you want to keep your book from being reviewed on my blog: https://abooknation.wordpress.com

A World of Books: A seriously impressive amount of reading and reviewing goes on in this blog. A book a day? That’s a tall order: https://bookgeeking.wordpress.com

Adventures of Bibliophile: Stephanie claims to be a bibliophile and boy does she prove it! Tons of reviews here: https://adventuresofabibliophile.com/book-reviews

Ailish Sinclair: This one is not a book review blog but rather an author who has a blog. The site is seriously worth checking out though because the photographs posted are stunningly gorgeous views of Scotland and other places around the world. She has a novel coming out soon and if The Mermaid and the Bear is even the least bit like this blog, it’s bound to be magical: https://ailishsinclair.com

Alys in Bookland: A book review blog that has won a fair share of awards. This blogger from the Phillipines is well worth checking out: https://alysinbookland.wordpress.com

Big Comic Page: Are comic books books? Heck yes they are! And you know what? If you want to see some great reviews of those books, check this blog out: https://bigcomicpage.com

Bookidote: Two reviewers for one on this site, Trang and Lashaan cover a wide variety of genres and topics. Both are worth reading: https://bookidote.com

Bookish Connoisseur: All things bookish are reviewed here with a particular interest in YA and Sci-Fi/Fantasy books: https://bookishconnoisseur.com

Books and Strips: Reviews of novels and graphic novels? Sign me up! https://booksandstrips.wordpress.com

By Gabbie: This blog doesn’t just cover books but there are many, many book related posts here: https://gabsi77.wordpress.com

Fantastic Book Dragon: Not only a cool name, this site features a voracious reader with lots of reviews to check out: https://fantasticbookdragon.wordpress.com

Food in Books: So great, you’ve just read a passage in a book that has described the most amazing meal and you are now starving. What do you do? You check out this blog where you can find the book and the recipe to make said delicious food here: https://foodinbooks.com

Keeper of Pages: This blog is for those obsessed with crime fiction books. Great reviews to check out: https://keeperofpages.com

Never Not Reading: Katie is a mom who doesn’t have time to read but does it anyway. She also probably doesn’t have time to run a book review blog but does a fantastic job of it considering the amount of awards she has won: https://nevernotreadingblog.wordpress.com

Read and Drink Tea: Reading and having a cuppa? Pretty good combo if I do say so myself: https://readanddrinktea.com

Sci-Fi & Scary: Here’s a blog that focuses on the important things in life, science fiction and horror. Oh yeah… give me more! https://www.scifiandscary.com

Slick Dungeon’s Dusty Tomes and Terrible Films: Okay, I know I said you should come back to my blog after you read all the other good ones I have listed. But sometimes you get tired of reading about great literature. When it’s time to find out what not to read and watch, this blog is the one to go to. https://slickdungeon.blog

The Bibliophagist: Great reviews of Young Adult, New Adult and Romance books: https://bibliophagistreviews.wordpress.com

The Book Review Directory: Looking for an easy way to find books and book reviews? This blog is perfect! https://bookreviewdirectory.com/?wref=bif

The Critiquing Chemist: When you get a chemist reading literature, you know an analytical and well thought out review will appear. Read them here: https://critiquingchemist.com

The Never Ending Unread: I don’t know about you but I definitely have more books lying around waiting to be read than I know what to do with. This site tries to help catch you up: https://neverendingunread.wordpress.com

Thrice Read: Three friends who love stories and want to share their reviews and reactions with the world. Lots of good stuff here: https://thriceread.com

Written Word Worlds: An Australian blogger who always has two books in her bag just in case she finishes the first one. I can so relate to that. https://writtenwordworlds.com

So look, I know I have missed a gajillion great blogs that I have forgotten or don’t know about. I hope this list could at least give you something cool to look at for a few minutes on #NationalBookLoversDay. I would spend more time trying to find more blogs for you to check out but I have to finish my review of the entirely disappointing second novel from Ernest Cline, Armada. Once you have read everyone else on this list, come back here and check that out.

Also, what are some of your favorite blogs? Always looking for recommendations so post away in the comments below if you know of any. Thanks for reading.

Book Lovingly Yours,

Slick Dungeon

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10 Completely Random Thoughts I Have had While Watching Bad Movies

I watch a lot of strange stuff and although I try to concentrate, sometimes my mind wanders. For no particular reason I thought I would share some thoughts with you.

  1. Was the discovery of popcorn a complete accident or what? Who thought to pop the kernels? Or was there just a fire too close or something?
  2. Why exactly do my shoes stick to the floor when I walk into a theater, no matter if the theater has just been cleaned? Do I actually even want to know the answer to this one? (probably not)
  3. If I was to calculate the number of explosions in a Michael Bay film, and then check the running time, what percentage of the movie is property damage?
  4. Does Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson still refer to himself as “The Rock” in his own head?
  5. Why would anyone buy the theater nachos?
  6. In two years, people born in the year 2000 will legally be allowed to drink. How convenient is it to know your age by just knowing the year anyway? Seems handy to me.
  7. Is it worse to have bad CGI or bad makeup? They both look terrible but one feels like it takes more effort and I am not sure which one it is.
  8. Not enough people in the world have seen a movie where someone’s head gets crushed in by a weight machine.
  9. If they replaced the dialogue with Mad Libs would this improve the movie? Answer: yes.
  10. What am I doing with my life?

Thanks for reading my weirdness. If you enjoyed this then feel free to sign up for emails below. If not, just continue to refer to yourself as “The Rock” in your head and we’re all good.

Slick Dungeon

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High School Musical – Movie Review

is this bad for a musical or bad for a movie? Maybe it’s just bad

Way back in the dark ages, long before Zac Efron was the star of the box office flop Baywatch, long before Vanessa Hudgens was mildly funny in failed television sitcoms, in the ancient dark days before Hamilton had made it big on Broadway, there was the completely, absolutely, utterly, unnecessary made for television Disney special, High School Musical.

This has a stunningly high 56% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. That means that more than half of the people who have viewed this, enjoyed it. I have no idea how. Unlike Emo: the Musical this film is so saccharine sweet that it will give you a stomach ache. Like Emo: the Musical, this depiction of high school seems to believe that you can only be one type of person. Until the end of course.

Now look, for a little television special aimed at pre-teens wanting some good old wholesome entertainment on a Saturday night, this is perfectly fine. The singing is decent for a sort of pop-ish sound, the acting isn’t bad for the Disney channel and the plot is the same as like ninety percent of eighties rom-coms.

But as a normal adult, suffering through this, the movie is painful. I’d rather be strapped to a chair while Mr. Blonde listens to Stuck in the Middle with You than watch this again. I’d rather be a young padawan facing a yellow eyed Anakin Skywalker than watch this again. I’d rather jump into a tornado full of sharks and chainsaws than watch this again. I would rather read an Agatha Raisin novel than watch this again. In case you don’t get it, I would rather be tortured than sit through this again.

The story centers around a star basketball player named Troy and his math whiz love interest Gabriela. Randomly they meet and sing karaoke while on vacation and feel a strong connection. The karaoke song has a lyric that goes something like, “I never knew this could happen until it happened to me.” So uh, yeah, the lyrics are that incredibly… good? Troy and Gabriela are clearly attracted to each other because, hormones. Lucky for Troy, Gabriela conveniently moves into his school in the next scene because, script.

The basketball players start singing a song about how basketball players don’t sing. Apparently they don’t play basketball either because they go through this huge choreographed dance routine, including several instances of traveling, illegal passing and all kinds of on court violations. Then as a unit they throw all of their basketballs in the air. There are like twelve guys in the scene and a total of none make a basket in the whole scene. This is their whole practice because they leave immediately after. Then, we establish that this team has a CHAMPIONSHIP game coming up. Are they playing the Washington Generals? Because if not, the dudes from East High are going to lose.

Meanwhile, Gabriela doesn’t want it known that she is good at math. Because, that’s a great message to send to girls (sarcasm font activate). She also doesn’t want to seem like she can sing even though she pines at the sign ups for the er… high school musical. PLOT POINT: that’s why it’s called High School Musical, I get it now, I finally get it! Gabriela is outed pretty quickly and has to join the math team because, we need conflict in the third act.

Not only is Troy the basketball star, his dad is the coach. And not only that, his dad has beef with the drama teacher who insists on pronouncing it musi-cal every time she says the word. She hates the jocks and the jocks hate the drama geeks and the nerds are nerds and skaters are skaters and everything is good at generically named East High.

In the drama club there is a brother and sister who will disturbingly remind you of the Lannister twins without ever doing anything more than singing and dancing with each other. They of course, are the villains and drive the plot so that we can have conflict between the leads.

Gabriela and Troy both sneak over to the auditions for the musical and of course, end up singing and upstaging the villainous drama siblings. The drama teacher calls for call backs which infuriate the drama twins and also lets the whole school know that Troy and Gabriela tried out. Makes me wonder what they thought would happen if they just got the parts but whatever. Then all hell breaks loose. The basketball players start admitting in song form that they like to bake, skater guys admit to playing musical instruments and brainiacs admit to liking hip hop. It’s a seriously stupid scene.

Also, and this is just a side note, when I was in high school and people got call backs for anything drama related that was always a good thing. Everyone hoped to be called back so I don’t get the reaction of the drama siblings at all.

Now that we have established who is who here, the next part of the movie is the math team trying to expose Troy as a jerk and the basketball players trying to get Troy to break up with Gabriela. It works because if it didn’t, there would be no conflict. Could that conflict have been resolved with a thirty second conversation amongst the main characters? Yes because later it is. After a song.

The big conflict/climax comes because of ridiculously stupid scheduling conflicts. The drama villains make it so that the math competition, the basketball game and the call backs are all schedule for the exact same freaking time. Now, any good principal or teacher or, you know, person with access to a calendar, would fix that right quick. But no, we need more songs instead.

But the tables turn so hold onto your top hats and canes because the math team and the jocks come together in the end to help both Gabriela and Troy. They realize that they have treated these sweetheart American teens poorly so they plan to cut the lights at just the right time in the gym so that Troy and Gabriela can swiftly make the call back and then back to their respective events before anyone is the wiser.

Guess what? They sing well at the call backs and are cast for the play, the match competition is won, and so is the basketball game. Yay! Not at all what I expected. Never saw that coming, Not even close. Hey, did you know that if you take one thing and then put another of that thing together, you have two of them? Me neither.

The movie ends with a big musical number and everyone is mostly happy except of course the drama villains. Troy is given the game ball for, I guess missing most of the practices, showing up for part of the game and making a single basket. He promptly turns around and gives that ball to the composer of the music for the play. She looks about as uninterested in that ball as I was in this movie. He was like, “your the play maker, you get the ball.” I suspect the actress was confused too.

Somehow, this thing sparked sequels and an actual musical on Broadway, despite the fact that in the movie, there is never a musical. Let me repeat that. There is never a musical. What there is happens to be tryouts for a musical. There’s no actual freaking musical in High School Musical. I feel extremely cheated by this. How dare they call this High School Musical when we don’t even get to see the musical. It’s like Jaws with no jaws. It’s like The Godfather with tryouts for being a godfather. It’s a complete and total rip off!

Ok, sorry, got off on a rant there. Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, High School Musical sucks and it’s inaccurately named despite the fact that they try out for a high school musical. How did this company go on to produce Avengers: Endgame? Hopefully because they fired the people with the terrible idea for High School Musical.

With all of that off my shoulders, there is one instance in which I think people should watch this movie. First, if you have never seen it, go ahead and suffer through it once. It’s difficult but you can do it. Immediately after that, watch the Bad Lip Reading version of it. Chorky and Lumpkinella are waaaaaay more entertaining than Troy and Gabriela ever hoped to be.

After the sweet, sweet taste of High School Musical, I need something to wash it down with. I’m going to take a big old drink of Waterworld so come back for that next week.

Low-spiritedly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Jane Carver of Waar – Book Review

Biker Chicks fighting Cen-tigers? I’ll pass

Have you ever started watching an original Star Trek episode and said to yourself, “You know what would make this better? If Captain Kirk was a bisexual biker chick on the run?” Yeah me too. But guess what? The reality of that is terrible and the proof is Jane Carver of Waar.

The plot here is pretty simple. Jane Carver is somewhere in California when a rude jerk in a bar hits on her. She gets pissed and throws a punch at him. Unfortunately for her, she’s kind of big and strong and her punch accidentally hits the dude in the throat and kills the guy. Not knowing what else to do, she runs away, ends up in a cave, touches a gem and ends up on an alien planet. Then she has adventures on her way to try to get back home. Other than it being the biker part and a woman, it really does remind me a lot of Star Trek. But you know how that show could be charming sometimes and even have deep political implications on occasion? Yeah, this does not. Like really does not.

Jane wakes up under a weird sky and realizes pretty quick she’s not in California any more. Also, she sees a bunch of dudes killing each other and they have purple skin so that’s probably a second clue. These guys are dressed up Conan the Barbarian style and are using swords so it’s a good bet they don’t have a transporter to get her back home. Jane watches the fight play out and then goes to talk to the loser of the fight, a dude named Sai. She then proceeds to follow him around for the entire book. I guess if you have no other friends stick with who you’ve got?

This book being extremely convenient, Jane is somehow able to talk with these aliens because, magic. This Sai dude has had his true love stolen and he has to get her back. Jane tries to help but they get captured by some Cen-tigers (centaurs but with a tiger bottom) and made to be slaves. Then they get free. Then they find another guy who is Sai’s friend and then they try to wear disguises to get to the place where the wife kidnapper is. Then they get captured. Then they get free. Then they wear disguises to get on a ship. Then they get captured and sold as slaves. Then they get free. Then they wear disguises to go to the place where the wife kidnapper is again. Then they get captured. Then they fight and Sai gets the girl, the book ends and Jane gets transported back home.

If you are thinking that description sounds a lot like lather, rinse, repeat, that’s because it is. Why in the blistering blue blazes they don’t think to do anything but wear a disguise and/or get captured in this whole book is completely beyond me. So that’s the plot for ya. Let me tell you a few things that annoyed me about this book.

  1. Jane has a bit of super strength because of the gravitational differences on the planet Waar. She’s able to lift really heavy stuff, take Hulk sized leaps, and is a bit bigger than most of the humanoids on this planet. Conveniently, it fails her when the plot calls for it, and works when the plot calls for it. I know a lot of stories do this kind of thing but it’s super noticeable here.
  2. Jane is attracted to every person and Cen-tiger who is nice to her for even a second. She’s always going on in her head about how she wants to get some from pretty much everyone. And this includes people that made her a literal slave. Umm… what? I know Kirk does that in Star Trek but Jane would easily give him a run for his money.
  3. There’s a political intrigue side plot that is about as exciting as watching the galactic senate negotiate trade relations in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace
  4. Cen-tigers? Come on man, do better. How the hell is it likely that these things evolved? What are the odds that there were tiger creatures that were centaur like?
  5. As you can see from the cover of this book, Jane is supposed to look exactly like Red Sonja. Metal bikini and all. Jane spends half her time complaining that she doesn’t have good armor and then when she does get good armor, it’s in the form of a metal bikini. That’s terrible armor!!
  6. There’s evidence that people from earth have been here before. There’s a paved road, airships and other items that just seem like they came from our home planet. This is never even close to explained. I suspect you would have to suffer through the rest of the series to find out more. I’ll pass.
  7. Let’s try disguising ourselves! Dangit, we’re captured. Let’s try disguising ourselves! Dangit, we’re captured. Let’s try disguising ourselves! Dangit, we’re captured. I think Einstein would define these people as crazy.
  8. Jane goes back an forth in her head over and over about whether it is right or wrong to kill a guy, while killing a bunch of guys. She has moral issues about it even though it’s clear at times that the person really deserves it or it was a complete accident. I’m not saying you shouldn’t consider your life choices if you are likely to kill someone but I didn’t really care about Jane’s agonizing over it.
  9. Sai was about as boring and stupid of a sidekick you could find anywhere. This dude had zero personality.
  10. This whole story is framed around someone finding a recording of Jane telling this story. Yet the person believes this crap, rather than thinking, uh whoever this woman is, she needs to find a psychiatrist stat.

I’m keeping this one short because, this book was flat out too long and I’m tired of talking about it. Next week I will review Armada by Ernest Cline. He wrote Ready Player One which was great novel. I’m sure his second novel will be an amazing read and extremely entertaining. We all know how second books are so much better than the first right?

Lucklessly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Let me know what movie I should review next

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Emo the Musical – Movie Review

Smells like Teen Angst- but with Rhythm!

Welcome back to my little world of bad films and strange creatures. Here at Slick’s Dungeon, I try to find the worst of films and review them. It’s a long haul and sometimes there is not much joy in it. But occasionally a real oddball pops up and I can’t help but kinda thinking something is so awful it’s good. That’s Emo the Musical in a nutshell for you. It’s bad, but it’s also good. Be forewarned, spoilers abound below.

Ahh.. breathe it in, the bittersweet smell of teenage angst. No, I’m not talking about a song by Nirvana. This is the smell propelling itself off of Ethan, the main character in Emo the Musical. All he wants is to be a tortured soul who can join the coolest band in the school so he can win a recording contract in an upcoming battle of the bands style competition. To do that he has to be an “Emo”. For those of you who are three thousand years old and don’t know the term, it’s the type of kid who wears mascara, dresses in all black clothing, talks about death and speaks up when he sees injustice in the world. At least, that’s the way the movie defines it. The problem for Ethan? He’s sometimes actually happy.

Also, this is a musical. If you don’t like people randomly breaking out in song at the strangest of times, remove this from your Netflix queue immediately. The weirdest thing to me about this movie is that the music all kind of sounds the same, whether it’s the “Emo” clique or the hyper Christian music, or the sweet duets between Ethan and his love interest, Trinity. Yet, somehow all the music is both catchy and forgettable.

To sum up the movie, Ethan is kicked out of his high school for attempting to commit suicide six times (although he didn’t really mean it he says) and he gets transferred to a new school. This is Ethan’s big chance to re-brand himself a true Emo, join the band and become, I dunno… liked I guess? On the way to accomplishing this he falls for one of the majorly Christian girls at school. Trinity, quickly figures out that Ethan can be happy. Also they are very attracted to each other. This is a problem for Ethan because he can’t be seen around Trinity or his friends will lose respect for him. Trinity can’t be with Ethan because he’s a heathen. But that all works out cause, you know, hormones.

The film basically defines people as fitting into one of about four categories. You can be an Emo, or a Christian, you can play sports, or be an adult. That’s pretty much the sum total of choices. If you are Christian, it’s old school fundamentalist Christian. The type that still has the truly messed up idea that conversion therapy is a good idea for anyone. Being a student who plays sports seems to be, uncool kind of, but not that big of an issue unless you are an Emo cause you are not allowed to be both things at once.

It’s pretty apparent right from the beginning that the guy who leads the Emo band is really a jerk and sort of psychotic. And that the church group doesn’t actually accept anyone. Yet Ethan doesn’t see that Bradley (the band leader) is a complete jerkwad until he is glad a kid goes to conversion therapy because then the church group loses a guitarist. This is after Bradley makes Ethan break up with Trinity, destroy a bunch of musical equipment and light a crucifix on fire. For being a character that is supposed to be empathetic, Ethan, sure takes his sweet time about it. Trinity, on the other hand, accepts people even if they have committed terrible sins like pre-marital sex. She also makes a solid singing argument that “Jesus might have been an Emo”. That was my favorite line and lyric in this whole dang movie.

I’m just going to highlight some of the best parts of this thing. I have no idea how they decided to come together with this stuff but here it is.

  1. Ethan joins the band by singing a song about how he doesn’t want to join the band.
  2. Trinity hilariously tries to baptize Ethan on the sly.
  3. The school has basically one teacher because every other teacher has been fired due to scandals of one kind or another. (That is a solid strategy to keeping casting costs down and I super respect this decision)
  4. The school is more or less run by a drug company trying to prescribe serotonin enhancers.
  5. The side plot with Violet wanting to play basketball is the literal reverse of High School Musical.
  6. There is a battle of the bands competition at the end and Ethan somehow gets to play in two different bands.
  7. The guy awarding the recording contract is asked why people call him “Doug Skeleton” and he answers, “Because it’s my name.” Major dad jokes in a musical about emotionally troubled teenagers? Sign me up!
  8. Things end relatively happy for everyone (although I think they do lose the thread of the conversion therapy character and that’s a real shame)
  9. Ethan proves he is an Emo to Trinity by slightly parting his hair differently.
  10. Although there is a lot of singing there is very little dancing. Mad respect for that.

I don’t want to give away everything in this movie because I do recommend you watch it. It’s really odd and totally worth the view. I can’t entirely define it unless you have seen it. But, it’s like High School Musical because there is singing and it takes place in a high school. But unlike the Disney channel anti-masterpiece, this one is kind of fun and re-watchable. I would watch Emo the Musical a thousand more times before I watched High School Musical again even once.

Now let me see what I have on my shelf of awful projected images to watch next time. Of course, should have known… High School the Musical.

Grief Strickenly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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The Creatures are Stirring and I Apologize

Slick Dungeon here. Normally at this time on a Friday I am dropping a fiction review for you all to enjoy. Unfortunately for me, this week has been a bit hectic. I’ve had to fight off Cen-tigers (Centaurs but the bottom half is a tiger), been chased out of my usual dungeon area and dealt with watching a Tromaggot. I haven’t had the time to finish reading Jane Carver of Waar but as soon as I am back where there is adequate light, and a decent wifi connection, I will post my review. Until then folks, stay as weird as possible.

Inadequately yours,

Slick Dungeon

Attack of the Tromaggot! – Film Review

Ummm… What?

Slick Dungeon back again with a film review that nearly didn’t happen. Not only are the beasts in the walls making a horrible racket, this film (if it can even be called that) was almost too hard for even me to finish watching. My standards are pretty low considering I am locked in a dungeon and watching nothing but terrible films. But this one almost broke me.

A little background to this film. It was made in Germany for $1000 Euros. Apparently Lloyd Kaufman was there (he’s one of the geniuses behind the creation of the whole Troma operation) and they decided to make a… series of images that include sound and motion. I hesitate to actually call this a film. Most of the budget apparently went to renting a broadcast building they could film at.

There is a mix of American and German actors and most of the lines are clearly spoken in German but then dubbed in English. This is supposed to be Troma’s take on a body horror film. Things like The Human Centipede or Alien would also count as body horror. Attack of the Tromaggot is full of fake looking slime, a really cheap looking puppet that is supposed to be the Tromaggot, and a major amount of fart jokes and confusion.

The last Troma movie I reviewed, Space Zombie Bingo!!! didn’t exactly have a plot but I could at least explain the attempt. This one? Well, there’s a company that deals in, slime I guess? Some people kind of eat it sometimes. There’s a cadaver under the sewers that has some maggots in it. Slime goes in sewers and there’s a monster created. There’s some scientists trying to cover it up and there’s an illegal organization that deals in this slime. There’s, maybe police? I can’t really tell. Lots of people get murdered by the lamest looking puppet ever. They tend to break the fourth wall in this movie extremely frequently. It’s like this thing is daring you to actually finish watching this.

With a studio like Troma, you do sometimes get truly unique things that revel in their awfulness and can be entertaining to watch. This was a thing and you could watch it. If you want roughly ninety minutes of making your brain hurt. I hate to say this, but if Troma puts more like this out, they aren’t going to last. Or at least, they are going to lose their reputation for being cutting edge subversive. This one seems like just an accidental series of things put on video (definitely not actual film) that they packaged into a DVD to sell to suckers at conventions.

There are a few standout moments in the movie so I am going to tell you what they are so you don’t have to suffer through this.

Lloyd Kaufman has a cameo in this and he wants to trade the “stuff” for the “trash” so he can get his teddy bear back. The stuff is the slime mucus. But the trash was a stack of Troma DVD’s. That kinda made me chuckle.

There’s a guy who is sort of a street dealer, bad guy, I think? Anyway he needs to meet with this organization called Mucus and they say that they need to meet at a quiet warehouse, “Like the kind that’s perfect for cheap film makers. We’ll do it towards the end of the movie.” Again I got a little chuckle here.

The best stunt they pull in this movie is when a guy gets killed in a fight. He takes a punch to the face and goes down. His head is cracked open but what they use for the head in a quick cut is a watermelon. Seconds later a woman who was in the scene is eating watermelon.

That’s it. That’s all that was good in this. I usually like to give a longer review to something I’ve watched but this is all I can give. Even so, I think that I may have written the most extensive review of this ….thing? that has ever been written. I could be wrong about that but if you did a longer review than me, I have only one question. Why?

I’ll be back again next week with another review. I’m slowly and silently setting down the Troma and hoping it improves with age. Next I will be reviewing Emo the Musical. Do you think they are just missing an L in that first word?

Lucklessly yours,

Slick Dungeon

A Time to Love (Quilts of Lancaster County #1) -Book Review

What’s wrong with this picture?

But Who Will care about the Children?

If you are looking for a romance book that is extremely chaste and never wades into any kind of inappropriate territory, this one’s for you. No steamy scenes because, well, this book is about an Amish community so it fits that there’s no heavy petting. Ever wondered what an Amish romance book was like? Nope, me neither. At least, not until I heard they existed. Guess what? They’re pretty much like other romances except, much, much tamer. I have no problem with the romance part of this book, or the Amish part of this book. I wouldn’t want to live in a community without electricity or buttons, but if that’s what floats your boat, float away.

That’s not to say that there weren’t things about this book that bugged me. I’m gonna list ’em after a quick plot summary.

Jenny, the main character is recovering from a difficult surgery she had to have after suffering a bomb blast while doing her job as a journalist overseas. To recuperate she visits her grandmother Phoebe who happens to be Amish and live in Lancaster County. While there she reconnects with Mathew, a man she knew long ago and nearly married. Mathew married while Jenny was away and had three children. Mathew’s wife died and it’s been a couple years since that happened. Now would be a good time for Mathew to move on and as luck (or God as the book states) would have it, Jenny seems to come back at the perfect time. Everyone ends up happy because, well, what do you expect out of an Amish romance?

My annoyance with the book is as follows:

  1. Jenny is a a journalist working for [unnamed network] recovering from a bomb blast she suffered in [unnamed country]. I put the brackets there because the author chose not to actually name the network or the country. Jenny was always overseas. What was she doing overseas? She was making sure that [the people] knew that there were children there who were suffering. I think this was mentioned roughly twelve times per chapter.
  2. Is there an adorable little kid in this book meant to tug at Jenny’s and the reader’s heart strings and says things like “Read me a stowy.” Oh you betcha. It’s like the plucky kid in apocalypse novels but you just know they are going to make people get married in romances, not get themselves killed the way they do in the other books.
  3. This is an Amish community we are talking about and Jenny is there recovering which is fine, but they keep talking about how much hard work there is to do. Yet Jenny, who more or less recovers doesn’t seem to do any hard work. She does try and cook one meal but I kind of think the author sold it short cause I am sure that there really IS hard labor to do in these places.
  4. It’s mentioned like a zillion times how the Amish children are so good and clean their rooms and do their chores and help out and never, ever complain. I have two thoughts about this. First, I bet that some Amish children DO complain on occasion. Why? Cause they are kids and sometimes kids complain. Second, there are plenty of non-Amish children that are good. But the author bludgeons us about how lazy the “Englisch” (the Amish term for people living outside their community) children are because they watch television. I sort of felt, more than once, like the author had not really interacted with real children over the age of three.
  5. Jenny has suffered what would be a real, major trauma. I mean life changing. She is described as being scarred across the face. She is constantly fretting about this. Of course Mathew and everyone around Jenny who all love her think it’s no big deal. I agree. Having a scar on your face doesn’t disqualify you from love. It doesn’t mean you are not beautiful. It doesn’t mean that anyone should think less of you. But you know what bugs me to no end? Look at that cover image. You know what I don’t see? A Scar!!! Come on cover designers, own it! I doubt this was the choice of the author so I can’t fault her but jeeze, let’s judge this book by it’s cover. Jenny should have a scar. Have the guts to put it on the cover. Okay, I am getting off of my body image soap box now.
  6. Another thing Jenny agonizes over is that if she doesn’t go back to work for [unnamed network] then no one, and I mean no one, will ever care about the children in [unnamed country]. Jenny is quasi famous and people on the street recognize her now and then. She is occasionally told by nurses or other random people how no one has gone back there. No journalist has gone back overseas (interesting how everyone on the street calls it overseas too instead of naming a country) to talk about the children. So her choice seems to be Mathew or go to [unnamed network] to work again. But Jenny’s colleague has this idea to interview her so the audience of [unnamed network] can see that she is okay. She does the interview and when it airs, they put a few charity phone numbers on screen. In Jenny’s mind that seems to clear the problem up. Yup, want to help out orphans in war torn [unnamed countries]? Two options. First. Jenny. Second, phone numbers on a screen. Either one will most definitely fix it.
  7. While cooking the one meal that Jenny makes, she tells Phoebe about microwaves. She says that microwaved food doesn’t taste as good because they don’t put love into the food the way her grandmother does. Note to self: invent microwave that operates on love. Also, I don’t know about you but I’ve loved me some hot pockets and microwave pizza rolls on occasion and no one’s grandmother made those.
  8. Mathew works very hard and loves his children. This is perfectly obvious from the descriptions of what he does and it’s no surprise. We wouldn’t want our main character to fall for a jerk of course. But not only do we have to see that revealed through his actions. No, everyone around him has to say pretty much every time he leaves the room how he works hard and loves his children. I think we get it.
  9. Since this is a romance, there has to be a setup for a continuing series. I think that’s a contractual obligation for even thinking of a romance concept. I’ve got good news. Mathew has a sister, Hannah. She’s Amish and lives in Lancaster County. Hmmm…. You don’t think… I mean could it be… Wait guys, it is, it really is… The sequel is about Hannah! Groan. It couldn’t be more obvious if they had put Hannah’s phone number on the television screen during an interview. Wait, that doesn’t make sense, Hannah wouldn’t watch television and it’s a community phone. Ah, never mind. I will say though that it bothers me one hundred percent of the time when you know that the sibling of one of the love interests is going to star in the next book. I read that there is a brother or sister who is not in a relationship and I know right where it’s going.
  10. Okay so part of this is me and part of this is not. This book has a long subtitle involving quilts. There is a quilt mentioned at the very beginning and it shows up a lot. But see, I thought that we were going to see Jenny learn to quilt or do all sorts of quilting or something. She doesn’t even begin to quilt until the second to last chapter. I was like, where’s the quilting? I want to see transformative, life changing quilting and I want to see it now. I think that was my misconception. But the quilt also wasn’t all that essential to the plot either. So, maybe make less of a big deal in the subtitle if your not gonna make a bigger deal of it in the book. Like they say, if you see a quilt in the first act, you should see quilting all through the book. I may have that quote wrong. But anyway, more quilts please.

I’m going to stop there but to finish my summary, I am going to give it over to the wisest, smartest, most celebrated poet of mine or any other generation. “We been spendin’ most our lives livin’ in an Amish Paradise” – Weird Al Yankovich.

After all this non-quilting peaceful time spent in Amish country, I need to spice things up. Come back next week when I will review Jane Carver of Waar by Nathan Long. I’m sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for the extra a. I’ll let you know what it is.

This guy gets it –

Image result for scar lion king
Beautiful and Proud

Top 10 Signs a Movie is So Bad it’s Good

So bad yet so good

How do you know something is not just bad, not just awful, not just terrible, but so bad it’s good? I mean something where the film stands out in it’s awfulness so much that it is destined to become a cult classic? I’ve spent a lot of time around bad films so I came up with this list to help you identify that something has gone so bad that it will last forever. Here’s how we separate The Emoji Movie, destined to be forgotten and hated forever, from the stand outs of trash cinema like The Room and Pink Flamingos. Hope you enjoy!

  1. The plot is utterly outlandish. While this isn’t the most essential part, usually having a strangely concocted plot helps. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is about a couple that get stranded on a rainy night in a castle run by murderous transvestites (I know that word may not be PC anymore but it’s what is used in the film). Tremors is all about giant earth worms being mistaken for earthquakes. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is about, well, the title sums it up doesn’t it? If you are watching Sharknado and it’s got a tornado full of sharks, it’s destined to be so bad it’s kind of awesome.
  2. Production value is low. Again, this is not the most essential ingredient but it sure helps. There are films that counter this point and have a great production value but are still cult classics. But you know something is awful when everything looks like it’s duct taped together and held in by rusty screws. One of the reasons Ed Wood films stand out in cinema is that you can see how little money was put into them. In Plan 9 From Outer Space you can actually see foam gravestones get kicked over as if they were made of… foam. Upon repetitious viewing, it’s still hilarious.
  3. The Budget has exploded. This is counter to point 3. Watterworld had a huge budget. So did Battlefield Earth. Yet they failed on essentially every level. People still watch them today because of how bad they were. It’s incredible to see big name actors like Kevin Costner and Dennis Hopper prance around these huge sets and just kill the whole thing with the absurdity of it all. It combines to make a truly unique, so bad it is good kind of experience.
  4. The Acting is Awful This one is vital. You can have a low budget, or an overblown budget and an absurd plot but if you have even one stellar stand out acting performance, there is no way this will become a cult classic. Tim Curry does nearly invalidates this point in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But if you have seen The Room, you know without question how bad acting can take an otherwise so so plot, fairly decent production costs and a typical love triangle and make into a sort of car wreck you can’t take your eyes off of. It’s so bad it’s good. You can watch it over and over again, and it’s even more fun if you watch it with a live crowd.
  5. There’s a shocking amount of Something. For this one, it can be gore, it can be foul language, it can be a creature of some type but most essentially it has to be excessive. The Toxic Avenger has a stunning amount of gore, practically pouring through the screen in every other scene. The film doesn’t shy away from it. It revels in it. While this point does not always have to be in a film for it to be so bad it’s good. a majority have this. Another good example would be Showgirls. It has a seriously alarming amount of unnecessary nudity. There are other things about that film that make it so bad it’s good but this aspect contributes heavily.
  6. The dialogue isn’t just bad, it’s memorably bad. Good films need stand out lines like, “I’ll be back.” Cult classic films need lines like “You’re tearing me apart!” (The Room) and “Alright everybody, drop your tacos or I’ll blow your brains out.” (The Toxic Avenger). It might not be Casablanca but I guarantee you will find yourself quoting these lines to your friends.
  7. The special effects don’t work. Can you see that the body thrown off a cliff is just a mannequin with a wig on it? Do the ray guns used in the film just emit a slightly grainy light? Is the makeup so bad that you can’t even tell what the character is supposed to be? Then you just might have a cult classic on your hands. This is usually more reserved for the cult classics that are science fiction related than set in every day life. But, if you have seen Space Zombie Bingo!!! then you know how bad poorly designed effects can be. So bad that you have to watch again just to convince yourself you really saw what you think you saw.
  8. There are problematically unusual directing choices. It’s one thing to get experimental on purpose and try something out in film. It’s another to have jagged and pointless cuts, splice in stock footage, switch from day to night in the same scene or make someone look ten feet tall in one shot and like they are vertically challenged in the next. Normally, one or two of these in a film would just be considered a mistake. A cult classic takes this to the next level. There are so many errors in there, you get to thinking they must have been planned. Actors flub their lines, drop things and get tangled up in the scenery constantly in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. It’s like the original Easter egg just watching that movie to see all the times something went horribly wrong.
  9. The film either takes itself too seriously or not seriously enough. Waterworld thinks it is staging Hamlet. It’s not. Showgirls wants to be a serious exploration of the working conditions dancers (not strippers!) have to deal with every day. It doesn’t. Plan 9 From Outer Space didn’t take itself seriously enough to take the time to develop into a decent story. When you get either side of this spectrum you can end up with an amazingly bad movie that is just fun to watch.
  10. People know the film is bad but they watch it repeatedly. This is the ultimate sign of a film being elevated from bad to so bad it’s good. I think The Meg was trying for this but it missed the mark. However, The Room, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Toxic Avenger, and Plan 9 From Outer Space have all taken on a life of their own outside of the regular box office. Showgirls has web pages and forums dedicated to it. People don’t view these things to appreciate them on the surface, They go because it’s a chance to laugh a little. They go to interact with other weirdos and oddballs that can also see the mangled attempt at art these movies represent. There’s nothing wrong with being bad. Heck, at least these film makers tried. That’s a whole lot more than 99% of people can say.

So the next time you are watching something and you are sure it is bad but not sure if it’s so bad it’s good, remember this list. It can separate out the cult classic from the classicly awful.

I hope you enjoyed my take on this. Did I miss anything? If so, leave a reply.

Badly yours,

Slick Dungeon