It's the end of the year and it's that time when we look back and take stock in a desperate attempt to fill our blogs with something other than recounting Christmas drinking tales that for me pretty much amount to little more than my mates banging on about how great Portland Bill/Trapdoor was and some really ill-advised pash, followed by sickness of the lethargic headache variety that requires rest and lots of fluids in a time when younger relatives make themselves known for pretty much all the day and water pipes across the country are nuked by the Big Freeze - you know what we should do, Northern Ireland? We should totally pay for this service. I mean like an actual separate charge on top of what we already pay the council in ground rent, rates, breathing tax etc. I know that there has never been a single instance - ever - of public services improving after being privatised, and in fact exactly the opposite is true to the extent that suggesting otherwise is effectively a lie, but I think that this time, despite all evidence to the contrary and not a single indication that this will be any exception that we should privatise Northern Ireland's water supply and then pay companies vastly inflated fees for the privilege of barely receiving what is enshrined in law as a human right.
Anyhoo, I have a shockingly bad memory at the best of times and hungover/ill as I am, there's little to no chance of a comprehensive overview of the past 365 days, so instead you can have the only review of the year that counts to any sane person:
2010 - A YEAR IN BEARS as best I can recall
Defenders 1.10 "Nevada v. Dennis" in which the attractive sister of Jim Belushi's legal nemesis needs a lawyer "with experience of capital cases" to save Otis the bear from lethal injection when he not unreasonably mauls the shit out of a drunk who storms the Las Vegas stage where Otis is working. Before Jim can get close to the attractive sister in order to have sexual intercourse with her compassion, independent spirit and intelligence, he must first win Otis' approval, which he does (off-screen, sadly), and Otis keeps onlookers at bay while Jim takes Attractive Sister of Nemesis into the woods to give her a damn good talking to about Nevada's animal welfare laws.
I have spoken of Defenders in the past, it is basically an antidote to Law And Order or The Whole Truth in that it is an entertainment meant to pass the time rather than a Freudian insight into the writer's issues with the world from which they have insulated themselves but can still catch Tweets about in order to have fodder for their next hate-filled reactionary story about how women who had an abortion in their youth are clearly evil at their core or something equally misanthropic, one-sided and juvenile. Adding a bear to Defenders' trashy mix is like adding icing on top of a cake that's already made of icing, but having a sub-plot that centers on how crazy mountain men who sell guns - probably to criminals - with the serial numbers filed off are actual human beings capable of love rather than 2-dimensional straw men? It's like the writers live in a world without hate, the lucky bastards.
We don't get anything in the way of on-screen mauling, but we do at least see the aftermath, so that's something, at least:
When it's you vs bear, that's what you get, bitch.
Nancy Drew and the Demon of River Heights:
I have spoken of this one before, being an early scene in the first of PaperKutz' Nancy Drew series - a barely functional marriage of blunt scripting and unpolished artwork that puts coloured character sketches on top of screen grabs of Sketchup models and just sort of assumes that this equates as a graphic novel - and it stands out for sheer audacity in trying to take a shortcut in showing Nancy as less of a traditional girly even though it's probably the focus on her feminine side that made her popular in the first place when other female detectives went the route of ballbusting and fell into obscurity, possibly because their approach was a little too masculine and male readers don't traditionally take to female leads. Within the first twenty pages Nancy straight-up mugs a grizzly and I dunno if I'm buying it, as I'm reading my way through the Nancy Drew books and she does spend a lot of time imperiled to the point that if she was going to fight anyone it would arguably be the many and nameless thugs encountered upon her travels who are actively chasing her and for all she knows are rapists, while a grizzly will straight-up murder you and floss its teeth with your spine if you tick it off but otherwise will look for reasons to ignore you, making Nancy's behavior just plain odd, not least because even leaving aside her supposed detective's eye for detail, she's in the woods around her home town and would hopefully know basic procedure regarding imminent mauling, which I am reasonably certain is less "defeat the bear with martial arts" and more "shoot it or run like fuck: there is no plan c."
Possibly, like me, Nancy had recently saw the masterpiece that is Karate Bear Fighter - which is excatly what it says on the tin - and got inspired by Sonny Chiba's success in a human vs bear equation:
He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword
which is super-gay like I wasn't really expecting. I expected it to be trashy and maybe a guilty pleasure, but when She-Ra uses her love power to make friends with vicious wood-dwelling animals including a razor-toothed space bear of some description, it barely registers next to stuff like the horrific tragedy kept from Adam since he was a child (that his twin sister was kidnapped and murdered), or the barely-an-undertone-and-more-an-actual-part-of-the-script subtext of incestuous sexual attraction between He-Man and She-Ra which can only be discounted by admitting that He-Man is clearly a homosexual and sister or not She-Ra is still female.
Actually, this brings to mind a discussion from the playground many moons ago where basically we couldn't decide if Orko was a bummer because he didn't have anything under his magic robes to have sex with (or recieve sex in), but it never occurred to us that he still had hands and a working mouth (he did eat stuff after all) and so could still sexually contribute.
Truely they were more innocent times.
Shako: Snack Attack:
drawn by an imbecile, but full of sub-zero bear-on-man carnage as only the lovable, mass-murdering ursine scamp Shako can deliver like he's not even trying. Set at some indeterminate point during Shako's original run, it's clearly taking place after he's made the CIA death-list, as the first thing the grizzled security guard does upon seeing Shako bite someone's torso off is run like hell, while the second thing he does is admit to himself that running will only make things worse.
Writer and fellow Northern Irelander Richmond Clements can at least rest easy knowing he pretty much nailed the basics there.
The Cleveland Show:
for some reason hated where stablemates American Dad and Family Guy get a free pass, I took to The Cleveland Show initially because it had a talking bear in it, but also because it relied less on pop-cultural references and random segues referencing things that exist in lieu of scripted jokes, and more on traditional sitcom staples like structured plots resolved through something other than the viewers' knowledge of the quirks of one of the show's broad characters.
But to repeat: I have no idea why the cartoon more or less identical to two others is seen as the weak link, as the only real difference that I can put my finger on is the fact that The Cleveland Show is about a working class black family while the other two are about middle class whitey. My favorite Family Guy character is Peter's Latino housemaid - way to speak to your audience, Mr McFarlane! Because finding a good housemaid is a problem everyone can relate to.
Black Dynamite: In which the best CIA agent the CIA ever had teamed up with a bear so badass it was still outfoxing CIA honkies from beyond the grave:
in which my niece tried her hand at writing and drawing her own comics after discovering what her uncle did with his spare time.
I blame myself for this one.
Essentially, Mr Sandman is the is the Child's Play-esque story of a murderous teddy bear who breaks into charity shops and waits to be sold to someone so that he can murder them and their entire family in their sleep, and what makes the whole thing so fantastic is that there aren't any frantically-scrawled pages depicting murders as might be expected from any normal child, just depictions of Mr Sandman going about his business in secret.
I would actually pay money to read this if it was a real comic.
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare:
in which the already awesome Red Dead Redemption takes things up a notch for add-on content by having the player stalking the resurrected villains he took vengeance upon during the course of the original game, and as an afterthought has some undead wildlife for you to contend with including the obligatory zombear. Yes, a bear which is also a zombie, losing points in terms of awesomeness only because zombies are this year's vampires in that they are utterly played out and now devoid of any kind of menace.
But still: zombear.
A film about animals waging war on humanity that features not a single bear-instigated mauling to death of any human, not even the slimy businessman played by Señor/Mister Chang from Community, otherwise known as Ken Jeong, an actor I quite like seeing in comedies even if he's chosen the Lance Henrikson route of appearing in just about anything that'll have him and as a consequence usually being the best thing about it (even if that's not saying much).
T'is not a great film, but has a bear on a golf cart.
And that's pretty much all that comes to my muddled mind on this new year's eve, so foggied is it with lethargy that for the first time in my admittedly poor memory I'm going to give the traditional celebrations a miss and get into my bed instead, so at least I can say that this new year will be unique among all the others yet still better than that one I spent in that nightclub just around the corner from Belfast City Hall whose name escapes me, which is just amazing given what an overpriced, unfriendly, tatty, and yet paradoxically still pretentious shithole it was. Remembering the name will bug me something rotten, I think...
Good luck and see you in the new year, which I hope will be a happy one for you and yours - or as they say in Star Wars "Athbliain faoi mhaise duit!"
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