Matt Carstens

Why Bond is OK, and why Bond will always be alright

Spectre

I’ve been reading the lot of different scalding takes on James Bond since I was able to see a private Ellensburg screening of “Spectre” with 12 of my closest Ellensburg friends (some of which were able to point out quite verbally that the Star Wars trailer was indeed for the new Star Wars movie).

A lot of these takes include phrases like “How this shit killed Bond” or “Why 007 is dead” or “The Legacy of James, why you should click my shitty thought-piece about how these Bond movies are kind of like other movies that are out this generation. Ya know? I made connections to different pieces of pop culture in a similar era. I’m a good writer, see?!”

The thing is, it doesn’t fucking matter. Yes, this is the first time a James Bond plot has intertwined throughout multiple movies. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Like the man in the Rolling Stone so eloquently put it, Bond adapts to the times. Whether it was Moonraker in space, Brosnan driving through a fucking city with a tank or Craig bringing his grittier persona to character, the point is, Bond is fluid. It has to be. Bond would not have survived this long if it wasn’t.

Now I am a canon junkie. I’m a franchise guy, I like big universes and I like references back to things. It’s gratifying to me. That’s why I can apologize for this movie. The main plot of “Spectre” to me served a similar role to “The Dark Knight Rises.” An unnecessary, but fun and satisfying conclusion to a series of films. Do people that say this movie “KILLS BOND” wish they hadn’t made “Spectre”? I don’t get it.

But besides the sort of contrived link to the past decade of films, which admittedly I’m a sucker for, I understand if people didn’t like it. But on it’s own, I thought it still offered a lot. Besides all the sweet helicopter action, as someone who has seen all the movies, and as a huge Bond fan, seeing Blofeld on screen for the first time since 1983 (and canonically for the first time since 1981), was FUCKING AWESOME. I feel like people don’t understand how iconic of a character he is. Just like Bond, he’s been portrayed by half a dozen actors, he has probably one of the most recognizable parody portrayals and I thought Christoph Waltz did a great job.

I did think the whole adoptive brother thing was kind of dumb and felt pretty forced, but I loved the torture scene. The cat was perfect, the watch explosion and the escape was sweet, and when Blofeld comes back with the scar, I lost my damn mind. Blofeld rules, and the fact that they brought him back for this movie, to me, makes up for a lot of the weaker, forced shadow organization stuff. Again, Blofeld rules. He’s got that cat, remember? Dr. Evil? Does no one remember?

I also really feel like Daniel Craig has quietly gone full circle from being everyone’s least favorite, to favorite Bond, back to being THE MAN THAT KILLED BOND. Please relax. In my humble opinion, he has been one of my favorite Bonds. Maybe it’s just because he’s the Bond whom I’ve grown my fandom through, but I definitely cared about him more than I did any other portray-er, and maybe that’s a result of the films being connected. Craig is great, and I hope he never comes back. (Unless he comes back for one in like 2043 that’s unofficial).

These were Bond films for the multiverse era, and that is OK. There is nothing wrong with that. There’s also nothing wrong with people not liking it. Soon there will be a new Bond for a new era, and I’m excited and afraid, like I should be. I’m sure every generation’s Bond critics have declared the death of the franchise. Hell, who thought he could come back from the diamond man’s ice palace?

All in all, Spectre was a good, not great Bond movie. Probably ranks third for me in the Craig era behind “Skyfall” and “Casino Royale.” People just need to understand, not every movie will be the best movie ever, and just because you think something is kind of done, doesn’t mean it’s dead.

James Bond Will Return. He has to, cuz like, they make a lot of money, and stuff.

T3 52: Behind The Defenestrators

With Sean ailing from a mysterious strand of super ebola, the rest of the gang was forced to improvise and settled on doing something that we all are good at, reminiscing. So to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our beloved band The Defenestrators, here’s a complete oral history of the band from it’s humble beginnings as the Dancing Spleens.

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Skyballs

Skyfall

I was going to try to fit bone into the headline somehow…but with our recent conversations about 007 and his genitalia, but I thought this was more appropriate. Or inappropriate. That’s what you call diverse writing.

This was the first movie I’ve ever seen in a theater by myself. Well I wasn’t really by myself. I was surrounded by 200 elderly people hacking up their lung butter every time Bond was trying to make sexy lady moves. I couldn’t help but thing maybe that was why he wasn’t getting very lucky this time around.

Anyway, Skyfall is all about Bond and how he’s losing a step, becoming “old balls” if you will. After a near-death experience, Bond isn’t quite what he once was. He’s on edge, jittery. He’s lost his marksmanship, he’s lost as step physically and we find out that his upbringing was less than ideal, leading to some mommy/daddy issues.

Thankfully this is all just in time for homosexually-charged Javier Bardem to get a list of all the MI6 agents and starts pickin’ em off one by one. As if Bond didn’t have enough shit on his plate, he’s gotta deal with this now. At this point in the movie he’d only gotten laid once.

So basically I felt that two over-arching themes “pop, pop”ed out to me in this installment. The first was the old, “I’m getting too old for this shit” shit. I really had a hard time buying into this, since it seems like the series was rebooted to have Daniel Craig portray a younger Bond. We’re only three movies in for heaven sake and he’s already too old for this shit? I wonder at what point in the Roger Moore was getting to old for the shit. Maybe he never did. Although in Craig’s defense, the toughest thing Moore ever did on-screen was…look handsome? Nah, probably the clown thing.

The second theme I saw…well it’s hard to put a finger on. The film was basically trying to tell us what the James Bond franchise is all about. I watched the 60 Minutes interview with Craig the other day, and they asked him why the movies weren’t as campy and fun. He basically said that they had to earn that right. They literally leveled the franchise, because Die Another Day was so bad, that they had to start from scratch.

You can see in this movie, they slowly are starting to add the themes back in. Tastefully I might add. We have Q, but he doesn’t give him that much cool stuff, he’s merely introduced. We see a couple of one liners. While not the greatest, they still made me feel fuzzy. I smiled and felt apart of the movie as a Bond fan. There’s some other great moments that harken back to the days of Connery, but I won’t spoil too much.

Lastly, the thing that made this movie great was they reminded us that no one in Bond is irreplaceable. The reason the franchise has been able to survive for this long is because although actors may come and go, characters, positions, themes…all the reasons we keep coming back for more are still there. Bond is still Bond, and while Daniel Craig isn’t my favorite 007, he’s growing on me fast. At least he’s not emotionally stunted George Lazenby.

The Mouse buys out Lucas

As the official MildlyPleased.com Star Wars Correspondent, I’m here to give you my take on the madness.

Now that I’ve had a few hours to try to process this, I can safely say this is the biggest development in the entertainment world in my lifetime. It still feels fake.

It came out of nowhere. All of a sudden I wake up, and someone posts it on Facebook. I click the link, it’s a press release. It looks legit, but it doesn’t sound legit. I tune in to the entire 45 minute conference call, listening to the technical financial jargon and all the big wigs at Disney talking about how this is their latest move to become the ultimate authority on literally all intellectual property that anyone cares about.

My first reaction was a cringe. For some reason, Disney has a negative connotation with me. I don’t know why. Maybe I just think, “That shit’s for babies. Babies suck.” But then I remember Disney owns Marvel. Marvel doesn’t feel like Disney. Disney owns Pixar. I’ve loved like 90 percent of what Pixar’s accomplished in the last 20 years.

But Star Wars? Star Wars is literally my favorite thing ever. I love it so much I was blinded for years, trying to convince myself that the prequels had any redeeming qualities. And now Disney? The Mouse has control of my favorite franchise? To quote Double Rainbow guy…What does it mean?

I guess for me it boils down to the projects are now out of the hands of Lucas. I like the fact that he’s still a “creative director”. There’s nothing wrong with that. The universe was built in his mind. The only reason the prequels sucked were because while he has a talented imagination, his laziness in the execution of those films was so transparent and his power was so great that no one could question him. He’s now out of the directors chair and more importantly out of the screen writers chair.

While I’m excited in the possibilities by looking at what Disney has seemed to do with Marvel in a hands-off approach, for some reason the biggest thing I fear is some kind of demented, incestual Boned Wars themed episodes that are continuously made until I drown in my own vomit.

I would rather watch Episode I a thousand times than subject myself to just the opening credits of Boned Wars one more time in my entire life. That piece of shit is so wretched, it’s literally unforgivable. That’s what I think people fear. They hear the word “Disney” and they think babies. Remember, babies suck! They like stupid shit.

As long as I can convince myself that Disney is a gigantic corporation full of smart people that want to save the franchise from the last 20 years of depressing tales, I think I can stay cautiously optimistic. Until more details surface, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Old Balls

Moneyball

Moneyball was an interesting experience for me. When I first heard they were turning the hit book into a movie, I was halfway through a book entitled The Book. That book is a straight up text book read, and although it’s extremely well written and interesting, it is definitely not an easy read. There are no stories, no background, no people or characters, just numbers. Pages and pages of charts and tables, while educational, can lull you to sleep.

That is always the false impression I’d gathered from people talking about Moneyball. So when the rumors of a movie came out, I didn’t think it was going to work, but I was still very excited. Because, you know, baseball.

When started the book, I was amazed. Not that it was the greatest thing I’ve ever read, but it wasn’t a textbook! There were characters! Michael Lewis does a great job setting the scene of Billy’s past, the draft room, the video room, it’s all clear in my mind. There are, of course, more number heavy sections, like when he’s explaining fielding metrics and the different statistic companies that arose independently. But all these gory details could easily be eliminated for the big screen without taking away from the book, and it worked well.

The only real problems I had with the movie were when sometimes it was a little too obvious that they were cramming ideas from the book into made-up scenes from the movie. The most obvious part to me for instance, was the whole David Justice being old balls. In the book, it’s easier for Michael Lewis to just explain to the readers who David Justice is, and how his balls are old and slow. But without a narrator, they had to try to cram it in by having some bimbo TV reporter be like, “Hey, I heard you suck and are old as balls, is that true? How are you going to be able to play with such old balls?”

I’m paraphrasing obviously, but the way the TV reporter acted took me right out of it, because TV reporters are little pussies, and would never say something that direct and upfront. Maybe if they had an old crusty columnist, it would have worked better.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Brad Pitt in the role, even though he won me over more and more as the movie went on. I thought the movie as a whole kind of portrayed Beane as dumber than he really is, and I felt it made him seem like every idea was Jonah Hills, even though I thought Beane had been interested in Bill James before he met DePodesta, but I could be wrong.

Overall, I really liked the movie, and when it comes to baseball movies, it’s probably my favorite. It combines my interest with sabermetrics and my love of baseball, to something I think we all love, a good underdog story. Despite how I can’t stand the A’s and how boring they are and how they are, or the fact they are division rivals, it’s still a great movie and I’m glad it came together how it did.

Zeptember: Matt’s Top Ten

Honestly I was never THAT into Zeppelin. I had a little phase in junior high like every kid that likes rock and roll does, but it mostly consisted of my playing my burnt Zeppelin live album that “the Paine” gave me over and over and over and over again. In those few months, I was ALL about Led Zeppelin. I remember this one specific instance where we were taking my brother to the airport at like eight in the morning and I stuck that CD in the car stereo and everybody was like, “Do we have to listen to this?” I was just really confused why no one wanted to rock. It rocks!

My Zeppelin collection is pretty sparse, consisting now of only I, III and IV, so these are just the top 10 that I’ve enjoyed listening back to over the last week.

10. I Can’t Quit On You Baby
One thing that really came back to me listening to all these songs again was just how much I miss jamming. More specifically how I miss just playing the drums. This song just grooves like I could never groove. By the time I was done playing this song we’d be be playing 260 BPM. Plant’s lyrical rhythms also really add to that as well. Each line is delivered just a little bit later, and that latency just has you sitting on the edge of your seat.

9. Rock & Roll
I’m not going to try to pick obscure songs to be cool, so this is just one of the great songs that I loved growing up. Since I’ve been doing a lot of research on recording and how to become a better engineer etc., one of the things I noticed about these recordings is that a lot of the songs are spaced very openly. You can tell it’s just drums/bass/guitar/ vocals. Except this one. Just a wall of rock.

8. Communication Breakdown
I have a soft spot for the ones we performed obviously. This is one that I was always just exhausted after. My right leg would just be burning by the end of the song because of the constant kick drum, not to mention it was the end of the set usually, so I was just going as nuts as I could possibly go. John Bonham must have calves the size of my waist.

7. Four Sticks
I don’t even know what John Bonham’s doing here. Like I sit down and listen to it over and over again. I’m pretty sure it’s more than just him playing percussion, but then I tell myself it’s John Bonham, stop trying to figure out what he’s doing. It’s impossible. Just listen.

6. Black Dog
I never struggled more playing the drums than whenever “the Paine” broke out into a jam with this song. I couldn’t wrap my head around how Bonham played that slow, subdivided groove to a riff with so many notes. Maybe he couldn’t figure out how to play a faster groove so he just played a “fuckin’ money beat”. Maybe he was being teased from another band who had “label interest.” Who knows.

5. Misty Mountain Hop
So Plant saw a bunch of hippies in a park, he didn’t know what time it was, so he stayed a while. Then it got dark. So some homeless guys told him to get in a line. This line was for tea and fun. Then the homeless people told Plant to go in to a deep self-examination. Then he warns people that if they go in the streets, they better open their eyes. Or they might be hit by a car or something. This song is weird. But it rocks.

4. Out on the Tiles
I love unison bass/guitar riffs. Especially when they span odd measures. This is also an example of something Bonham does that I could never do no matter how much I practiced. I had to buy a double bass pedal to be able to play triplets. Bonham just gets drunk and plays them all day long. Maybe I should have been drinking.

3. Immigrant Song
This song was always really disappointing to me, because of how much I didn’t really enjoy III that much. I started listening to it and was like, “Yeah this rocks!” But only to be disappointed by the next 40 minutes and 33 seconds of my life. I’ve grown to appreciate the album more, but I still am a little disappointed every time I hear it.

2. Good Times Bad Times
Dun Dun. Dun Dun. Dun Dun. Dun Dun. Is there really anything else to say. This is really the epitome of Zeppelin. Rockin’ guitar solo, sweet bass fills, in your face and technically intricate drums, and Plant being, well, Plant. One thing I love about this song is the harmonies on the verses. I wish they did more of that.

1. Stairway to Heaven
You know what? Fuck it. I’m putting it as my number one because it is. One of my proudest memories of the Defenestrators is how we practiced the shit out of this song for what seemed like months. I loved playing the keyboard flute, and I loved even more coming in with that simple, yet powerful, tom fill (biggest regret is missing that cue, but I couldn’t hear anything! I swear!) It’s a shame it’s so over played, but at the same time that just reiterates how great of a song it really is.

I can’t wait for “Who knows?” tomorrow!