Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Scott Adams often states my opinions more eloquently than I can myself. I can no longer question the intellectual benefits of running a restaurant and comic strip.

Anything other than a link to the blog would be unfair. Here is my stance on immigration, more or less:

In other news, Cracking My Knuckles in Public will now consist entirely of links to other blogs. Until my Metablog achieves W* domination, that is.

*That's the "W" from "World" Wide Web in case you didn't catch it.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Superhero Sequel Weakness

What is wrong with "3" sequels, specifically action and superhero flicks? I can imagine the Hollywood meetings where the "3" superhero movies are planned:

"No, introduce another villain! Complicate this hero's relationships! Kill characters! Faster! More ridiculous! More unbelievable!"

I had the privilege last weekend of watching two threequels I had previously missed: Spider-man 3 and X-men: The Last Stand. Both movies were thoroughly entertaining, and had one thing in common: everything was a little bigger, a little more unbelievable, and a little more bewildering.

Threequels obliterate where the previous movies merely knocked things around. They mine off the original movies, carrying familiar plot elements from the previous movies to impossible proportions. As these unbelievable webs unfold, familiar characters begin to act. . . unfamiliar. One notable exception is the Harry Potter movies, which mercilessly forgot this tradition until the fourth movie, where Dumbledore loses his grandfatherly tendencies and all-but-strangles Harry in one uncomfortable scene.

Why do threequels do this? Maybe there's an unconscious "trilogy" mentality in Hollywood. Both Star Wars trilogies saved their biggest (and, in the new trilogy's case, dumbest) action sequences for last. Back to the Future 3 brought the series full-circle, nearly recreating the pivotal high school scene from the first movie.

Why? Why can't the third films be as subtle, charming and delicious as the others? Why must everything be caffeinated and fed through the filter of the Summer Blockbuster, even where the previous movies have avoided this tendency? Spider-man 3 alone jacked the evil twin concept, undermined the original film by changing story for the sake of concocting character motivation and introduced characters from the rafters to reveal important plot points to the audience when the movie couldn't figure out how to do it on its own. Every character and villain had so many bloody motivations that the movie became a swirling roller-coaster and lost track of its human elements. Three - count 'em, THREE - villains, and not one of them ever seemed to be acting like a human being. (To be fair, Green Goblin Jr. got a nice send-off, but his deathbed repentance was too little, too late. Not quite your friendly neighborhood train wreck - more of a technicolor hurricane.)

And X-men 3 was. . . directed by Brett Ratner. Which explains as much.

In X-men, every character was angry, all the time. The character whose death we mourned in the last film returns to kill everybody and, in rare moments of self-control pleads to be killed. . . again. Tasteful, movie. Professor X loses his poise and yells at everybody. Magneto seems hungrier and more harebrained than ever, and the previously-entertaining turncoat villain Pyro turns into. . . Draco Malfoy. In the rush to throw more on the screen, the movie creates a bunch of gimmicky mutants and can't find anything to do with them. The characters travel from scene to scene, not because people in their situation would act as they are doing, but because the script requires it. Plus, everybody dies (though the movie doesn't have the courage to keep these characters dead and/or powerless, if I understood the final Magneto scene and puzzling post-credits Professor X scenes correctly. Kudos, on the other hand, to the Spider-man team; I doubt Green Goblin Jr. will be back. Bless Raimi's soul, but James Franco was creepy in the third movie).

Both "3" movies had such a legacy going for them that they would have been nearly impossible to ruin, but neither had the meat of the previous films. When the inevitable fourth installments come around, will there be anything left to destroy?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

. . . And a Top o' the Morning to You, Lad

Hello! My name is Dustin Steinacker and you are reading my blog. Welcome to "Cracking My Knuckles in Public", version 2.0. I am rebooting this blog with a focus on professionalism sadly lacking from my last effort. I am now back from my two-year religious mission to the Philippines and excited to have this venue for some personal discussions and opinions.

The title is slightly inappropriate. It is true that I am cracking my knuckles in public, as it were, by posting my comments and opinions to this blog, but I'd never assume that the activity described in my blog name could ever be made interesting to bystanders. That said, I'd like to make sure that this is. So, top of the morning (night/evening/afternoon) to all of you!