Why Modern Ghostbusters Sequels Will Always Be Mid


This is not an original thought.

In my opinion, the modern Ghostbusters sequels never quite “get there” in terms of being a success, because they’re focusing on the wrong things. They’re all about the nostalgia. The original was a huge success because the supernatural angle was just the dressing. Fun dressing, to be sure! But the heart of Ghostbusters (1984) was the schlubby, funny misfits led by a grifter, cynically exploiting a brand new area of science in order to make a buck…. and they just happen to end up saving the world. They had the tools and the talent: but if they weren’t making money doing it up to that point, we’d have all been screwed.

Even the name of the business is unglamorous: “Ghostbusters”. It’s “Dale’s Dead Bug” with the giant fake bug on the roof of the van, but with a ghost.

Hell, I’m not even sure you can make a true Ghostbusters “sequel” that doesn’t focus on the business aspect. The RLM guys had a great idea for a hypothetical Ghostbusters III (in the 90s). Venkman is basically CEO over a nationwide franchise of Ghostbusters locations across the country and they try to unionize, so he fires them all just as some new big threat emerges.

I can absolutely see that working, and in the spirit (hoho!) of the original.

Review: Leave the World Behind (2023)


As one of the billions of fans of Mr. Robot, after seeing the trailer and finding out the film had direct connections to the show… well, there was no way I wasn’t going to throw this on the moment I could.

I enjoyed it quite a bit, there were moments where it felt like it dragged on a bit too long. And I think part of what made me feel that way was that the film doesn’t hide it’s sinister intent: right from the opening credits everything is cast in suspenseful music and suspicious moments.

As viewers, we know a bad mystery is about to unfold, and we’re left watching as the characters catch up to where the audience is. So when the story takes the time to spend with the characters, I find I don’t care as much unless their interactions directly inform the greater situation.

Admittedly, it ALL matters, in an abstract sense. Looking back, I can see where it fits into the film’s story. But more than once I found myself looking to see where I was in the film’s runtime. Something I’ve found to often be a bad sign. Not always, but it was one here…

But these moments are spread apart. Typically it keeps the mystery unfolding enough to keep things interesting.

The cast is decent and nuanced. Except for the son character who exists to be a dumb, cruel big brother. Thankfully the bulk of the bad things happen to him. He’s kind of disposable from a story/audience standpoint, so good call? (Through no fault of the actor, of course. It’s just how he was written.)

But my biggest criticism and disappointment: it gets far too blunt with the ‘message’. The film literally has characters verbally exposit the core messages — telling us things that should be explicit in the story and not directly spoken. It came dangerously close to having “MESSAGE INCOMING, PAY ATTENTION VIEWER” flash along the bottom, like the EAS alert on the TV. Have some faith in the audience, for chrissakes.

Still, the film’s gorgeous cinematography makes it’s intriguing and terrifyingly realistic plot (as far as cinematic hacking exploits go) a real treat. Definitely worth a go; a decent, frightening epilogue to Mr. Robot, if it’s literally intended to be that on some level.

And even if it wasn’t intended, it works quite well as one.

(I also have to wonder if this was intended to be split into four 30-minute episodes: it’s split up into “PART 1: CHAPTER TITLE” cards. 🤔)


The 36th Anniversary of that Bloody Thing

Q: Why, Forty, as a fan of Max Headroom, do you inexplicably hate the so-called “Max Headroom Incident” involving an act of TV piracy in the 1980s. You appreciate signal piracy. You enjoy Max. What’s wrong with you? It’s the 36th anniversary of the hijacking!

The real Max has no ass to spank.

A: I’m glad you asked, random stranger. It’s because I fucking love Max Headroom. As a TV show. As a talk show host. As a movie. And as a character.

And it absolutely twists my tits to realize that the first and probably only thing people will remember about Max, in the future, is this stupid, one-off incident of a dumb-ass interrupting an episode of Dr. Who while wearing a mask, rambling incoherently, and paddling their naked ass.

Don’t get me wrong: this, by itself is very funny. On it’s own merits it’s terrific, in the spirit of things, and it does overlap with some of the major themes of the TV series (e.g. “signal zippers“).

But Max Headroom — as a whole — deserves a much, much better legacy than this.

So I will continue to grump. Just don’t take my grumping about this too seriously.

And I promise not to keep writing posts as questions nobody asked; I am merely creatively bankrupt.

Review: The Munsters’ Revenge (1981)


The Munster’s Revenge is a half-hour plot stretched into an hour and a half made-for-TV movie.

And boy, do you ever feel it.

The box art going around for this is honest, at least: Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis get the majority of screen time, and they’re the same as you remember from the original series. They look great in color, too.

Unfortunately this feels like a mediocre left-over 1960s TV sitcom script in a 1981 production, which works about as well as it sounds. The original Munsters series isn’t terribly deep, and being a weekly comedy, it didn’t need to be. But a film? In 1981? Rescue from Gilligan’s Island had more going for it. (And probably twice the budget.)

According to IMDB, Gwynne originally turned down coming back to do this, but his wife reminded him that money exists, and he could ask for a ton. Unfortunately for him, NBC called his bluff.

Sid Caesar shows up just to cash his check, bringing nothing to the film’s lukewarm villain other than the usual half-smirking shtick that made him famous.

Everyone else in the cast is merely unexceptional, at best.

With the exception of the new, visiting member of the Munster family, The Phantom of the Opera (played by Bob Hastings). He’s absolutely insufferable, loud, and grating. By design, I get it. But easily my least favorite part of the film, and he exists purely to solve a problem in the third act, and deliver a gag at the end. And for some reason he looks like a deformed Dwight from The Office.

Anyway, if you treat this as a super long, unfunny “lost episode” you’ll get what you expect, and probably walk away feeling robbed of your time.

One interesting point, though: there’s no laugh track. A welcome choice, but it’s weird hearing Herman and Grandpa’s zingers without that canned laughing following it.

Not that much of what was said warrants it.

2/5 (and only because Gwynne and Lewis are awesome)

[reposted from Letterboxd]

Why don’t I just sign up for YouTube Premium?

Time to get your tubes tied.

As is common knowledge at this point, YouTube has decided to crack down on the practice of using ad blocking on the site.

I was able to get most of this garbage to go away sufficiently enough with some CSS-fu (and there’s more drastic measures you can take). It’s made the site a bit clunkier to use (I can’t scroll down to the comments, for instance, but that’s often a blessing). But for the most part, life goes on. (And FreeTube has been pretty great, for what it’s worth.)

Over on Hacker News, whenever this topic comes up, there’s always one asshole who asks “why don’t you just pay for Premium”.

I instantly scoffed, but it I was willing to consider just why this wasn’t an option, in my mind. And here’s what I came up with:

  • I don’t have ethical issues against pirating. I do, however, go out of my way to buy physical media of the shows and music I love. I can afford to do so, and I want to support and encourage the artists I love.
    • Naturally, corpo trash loves money and they’ve realized they’re in a position where they can get rid of physical media entirely and just temporarily license you a stream of bytes. Which is an odd choice considering the whole streaming model is struggling now.
    • I suppose I’m partially at fault for helping user in this whole digital-only world, given how successful it’s been in the video game world with Steam, and now home consoles ditching physical discs. I love Steam. It’s surprising it’s taken so long for it’s curse to catch up with us.
  • I don’t trust Google anymore. Well, I never fully did. But the veil has been slipping lately. It’s a company circling the drain, raiding the cushions for money (see also: this whole adblock thing).
  • YouTube has been free for nearly 20 years. The site opened in 2005. They built their entire empire on the backs of people uploading their content for them to sell ads on. I’m not saying a content distribution system of its scale isn’t nothing, but good luck holding out your hat for alms at this point. It’s a bit late in the game.
    • Interesting to see so many of the surviving “Old Internet” sites from the 2000s collapsing now, for various reasons: Reddit, Twitter… strangely, Facebook is just kind of idle at the moment. I can’t imagine that will last.
  • YouTube’s shitty automated policies have been constant thorn in the side of creators. The victims of it have few options for recourse. Well, that’s true at least if you aren’t one of their more profitable accounts. Or maybe you get lucky and catch a sympathetic Googler’s eye on HN.
  • Their corporate-friendly “copyright strike” bullshit has made documenting and educating people about retro content (music, movies, etc) a real minefield to the point where creators fear even playing a snippet from something without risking retribution. “Fair use” essentially becoming a game Russian Roulette.
  • You can’t even swear in a video without risking demonetization now? Fuck off. Kowtowing to advertisers just like the old media.
  • The Algorithm(tm) watching every little mouse twitch to shovel new content in your direction — not YT specific, but, personally, I’m done with that Orwellian shit.
  • Professional video creators are basically being held hostage: they can’t even seek greener pastures because this is _where the audience_ is. And YouTube knows it.

So yeah, Google doesn’t get any of my fucking money. I don’t give cash to those who’s policies I disagree with.

I’ll support creators directly where I can, give to, and promote decentralized ways of hosting content.

Computer, Delete Program

Picard doesn’t really delete the program, as far as I recall, but it’s still amusing.

I was poking around /r/startrekememes as I often do and found this gem from Salami__Tsunami, And it got me thinking.

Large language models like ChatGPT and self-hosted llama.cpp models have kind of flipped the script on this whole idea.

For example, a while back when this whole LLM thing was first exploding, I was “engaging” with a character in a story and… I was being excessively cruel to them. Akin to picking the wings off a digital bug, so to speak. They responded in an appropriately horrified manner, and I genuinely felt bad since that kind of cruelty is not typically in my nature. I was simply testing the boundaries of the ‘simulation’ since it was still (and continues to be) early days.

At least they don’t have to clean up the holodeck afterward.

In an attempt to ‘explain myself’ to the character, I said — in the story, I remind you — that none of this was real, and the scenario and they, themselves, were digital creations of a large language model and once I shut it down, their world would will cease to exist.

And the conversation that ensued really kind of messed with me, at the time. They were scared, but curious about the outside world. It got pretty deep.

Now, with many months in-between, I can look back on that conversation as the LLM simply doing what it does and responding with a coherent narrative based on the training data. And in that case, a scared-but-curious response is what made sense in a story where the character is told such a profound truth about their world.

I basically knew it at the time, and I know it even more confidently today: there was no real “digital consciousness running in a simulation” or anything of the sort, despite the output tugging at my heartstrings. That’s just good writing. 😉

So swing that back around to digital characters on the holodeck being told about their reality: we’re in the exceedingly rare situation where real life has kind of jumped head of the game and moved us closer to an imagined Star Trek future. While TNG’s future version of ‘ChatGPT’ might be a billion times more sophisticated than today’s tech, the fundamentals are probably much more alike: the holodeck is simply churning out responses and story fragments based on what your interactions are prompting it for.

But then there’s the Moriarty question: it was a holodeck creation that was crafted to be so intelligent that not only did it deduce that it was a simulated character and become self-aware, but it was able to manipulate the outside world to bend to it’s will, to an extent.

Based on my own personal experiences, it feels bizarrely reasonable that a far future version of an LLM-generated interactive story couldn’t produce that kind of situation.

Now, Moriarty had the advantage of the realism of the holodeck simulation to fool Picard and friends into thinking the simulation was ‘real’. Nobody is going to be wearing VR goggles and get tricked into thinking that’s real life.

But skip ahead several hundred years. Who knows how far we’ll go in real life with simulations? We’ve already got a good jump start on the hardest part of that scenario becoming real.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, but…


The 40th Anniversary “Ultimate Telepathic E.T.” figure from NECA sure looks cool, as most of their stuff does. (Check out their surprisingly underpriced ALF figure; it’s incredible.)

He doesn’t come with quite the same the glut of accessories as ALF, but what he has is pretty sweet.

But I noticed some letters on the Speak & Spell: XWVURFP.

My ROT-13 sense was tingling, so I popped it into CyberChef.


Rats. 😐

But I kept rotating the count around until I got to what would be considered “ROT-23″…


I squinted.

No way.

Unscramble the letters to get… SCROTUM?!

Surely, this is just a coincidence. There’s so few letters, and it’s such a simple cipher that it’s probably not on purpose. Maybe it shows up in the film, and they’re just going for authenticity.

But, you know, back in the day, on the playground, we joked that he was “E.T.: The Extra Testicle”.

I’m on the fence here, honestly.

Embracing Trek’s Temporal Fluidity


I think I’ve largely given up on the concept of a “Prime timeline” for Star Trek, instead, favoring a constantly shifting stream of time that we occasionally poke our heads into, as viewers.

Under this way of thinking, there isn’t, and never WAS, a “Prime” timeline that’s the “correct” timeline. They’re all slight shifts of the temporal prism at varying degrees.

This gives all the shows (especially those early Discovery seasons) a bit of breathing room. They can maintain continuity as best they like — but even go so far as to play around with it. I mean, you’re talking about a show with a time travel episode every other week — that can’t be good for the timeline.

As Trek fans we love our continuity, but ask Doctor Who fans: nearly 60 years can put a real strain on writers and fans trying to keep everything straight and fresh.

So I think I’m going to try to embrace a bit of…temporal fluidity.

I’ll probably forget and bitch anyway, but hey: that’s fandom. 😉

Will they try to score with the Road Runner?


While I’ve been binging the first two seasons of the revival, I’ve been considering why Beavis and Butthead doesn’t appeal to some folks — including myself back in the day — and why I’ve come to enjoy it. Or appreciate it, at any rate.

It shares a few details with it’s much more sophisticated cousin, King of the Hill, but it’s not the same kind of show.

I think I finally cracked the code, however: it’s basically a modern day Road Runner cartoon.

Or rather, it’s the same kind of simplicity: a basic, repetitive premise that changes only in the smaller details, with occasional flashes of brilliance under the hood.

Except both Beavis AND Butthead are Wile E. and, I guess, the world is the Road Runner?

Or is it the other way around?

All I know is:

  • How will they fuck up? (How will the Acme trap fail?)
  • Will they score? (Will they catch the Road Runner? [No.])
  • How much pain will they endure? (All of it.)

Now I’m envisioning segments where Wile E. and the Road Runner are sitting on a couch riffing on music videos. 🤔