The themes of this update are patience, procrastination and putting things off until the right time. My February was overshadowed by two separate events, the first of which occurred on February 6th, a Saturday. You may recall one of my resolutions for 2021 was to run at least a half-marathon every month, slowly increasing my distance over the course of the year, eventually building up to running a full marathon. Well on the 6th of February, 37 days into the year and with just two half marathons under my belt this side of 2020, I got up, went for a run and thought “Fuck it, why not today?” Yep, I tried to run a marathon, with no proper preparation, no real route planned, and having eaten no breakfast. This is, to date, one of the stupidest decisions I’ve ever made, especially when you factor in the route I did take involved so many hills it could’ve been shown on MTV in the late 2000s. Ridiculous. I made it just over 30km (about 3/4 of a marathon, so still my longest run ever) before my wife – who I also hadn’t informed about what I was doing – phoned me to ask where in the blue blazes I’d got to, and how badly injured was I. She had an errand to run in the direction I was, and I couldn’t really walk any more, so she picked me up, took me home, and justifiably called me a numpty. Unsurprisingly it took me over a week to get into any kind of decent running shape again.
The second momentous occasion of the month occurred 2 weeks later, on the 19th February, a Friday, when my aforementioned wife tested positive for COVID-19. I’ll start off by saying she and I are both fine. Her symptoms were pretty mild – headaches, upset stomach, fever – all are gone now, and I didn’t have any whatsoever. The day before I’d tested negative, and we gingerly kept a distance apart but didn’t go nuts with it. Our toothbrushes still shared the same pot, but less time was spent hugging than either of us liked. Anyway, in the UK a positive test result means the whole household must self-isolate for two weeks from the start of the symptoms, so we couldn’t leave the house until this past Saturday (27th). That meant no pops to the shop to restock our meagre supplies – fortunately we got a grocery delivery a few days in, but they didn’t bring everything – no going for a run and, crucially, no dog walking. We arranged for a friend-of-a-friend to take the dogs out on the weekdays, and we played with them best we could – or rather, as best as they’d allow, the grumpy sods – at the weekend and in the evenings. I’ve never been more grateful to have a garden, although once you’ve run from the back door to the side gate and back again 231 times in a bid to run a 5k, you can’t help but wish for a bigger one. By no means do I intend to imply we’ve been through anything close to the ordeals of many others. At the end of the day we have each other, we have an outside space, and my wife recovered completely, but paying someone else to take your dogs for a walk when it’s literally all you want to do is a bizarre feeling, and dammit we got down to our last can of Pepsi Max, which is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
So, what did I learn this month? There’s no need to rush something you’re comfortably building up to, it’ll more than likely hurt if you try tackling it too early. But also, don’t wait until you’re almost out of supplies before going to get some more, as who knows if you’ll be able to. Every task has its own sense of urgency. Sometimes you’ll put off writing a couple of reviews until the end of the month in order to reach your one-review-a-week goal, but then on that last evening you’ll have a combo of your utter gobshite arsehole imbecile neighbours having a karaoke rave party during a fucking pandemic until 2am in the mother-fucking morning, and then plumbing issues that take far longer to fix than intended, so you miss your self-imposed deadlines and end up behind. However, there are few things in life more satisfying than the kah-THUNK! of a dislodged toilet blockage you’ve spent three solid hours plunging away at, so there’s that.
Anyway, that was a longer intro with far more personal information than any of you wanted, so let’s get into the movies, shall me?
Outside of the List, here’s what else I watched in February:
I’ve been listening to Matt Gourley and Paul Rust’s podcast covering horror franchises, and realised I’m missing some entries in the Alien saga. I’d never seen Resurrection before, and dammit I quite enjoyed it. It often feels more like a 90s Alien rip-off (see Species, Mimic, other films I enjoy) rather than an actual Alien franchise entry, and it’s got a bananas cast (Dan Hedaya! Ron Perlman! Brad Dourif! Leland Orser!) but there were some fun scenes, particularly the underwater action and when Ripley discovers the testing room. However Winona Ryder is pretty wooden – whether it’s by choice or not, it made the character dull – and the attempt to make the main creature both terrifying and endearing was a challenge the production department sadly failed at. Still a fun watch overall though, and I preferred it to Alien³, although to be fair I’ve only seen that on a plane.
Choose Life 6/10
Deep Blue Sea 2
We’ve finished covering Deep Blue Sea chapter by chapter over on Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast! The final wrap-up chapter will be released this week, so pretty soon we’ll start the next phase of the podcast, in which we analyse Deep Blue Sea 2 chapter by chapter as well. There are only ten chapters in DBS2, which is a blessing because compared to the first film it is not good. I’m going to wait and give my definitive rating once we’ve fully covered it, but for now I’d consider this a non-essential film that has a couple of good kills, but more than enough not great stuff to not make it worth watching.
Tammy and the T-Rex
Tammy and the T-Rex, on the other hand, is delightful. I’ve written a review of the newly released Gore Cut over on Blueprint: Review, which you can check out here.
AVP: Alien vs. Predator
I was genuinely shocked to enjoy this film. I’d heard the AVP movies were diabolically bad – more on this later – but the first one was pretty fun. Scientists, mercenaries and a guide explore a mysterious heat signature buried in Antarctica and, wouldn’t you know it, things go awry and lots of people die horribly. I tend to enjoy Ewen Bremner and Colin Salmon in anything and there are some wonderful kills, although the US PG-13 rating (15 in the UK) nullified some of the gore factor. Plus half the cast gets wiped out before they’ve had a chance to actually, y’know, have a character, which is a shame. I didn’t love that the maze they were in kept moving and changing shape, it took away from getting any kind of bearing on the space they were in, but then the disorienting effect added to the sense of confusion the characters were suffering too. Not essential, but better than expected.
Choose Life 5/10
Trailer-wise this looked like just another big dumb action movie where Gerard Butler runs away from the weather, but honestly this was a great, tense, heart-pounding drama centred around another apocalyptic doomsday conceit. Butler plays a guy trying to do whatever he can to get his wife and son (Morena Bacarin & Roger Dale Floyd) to safety from an incoming comet. There’s a lot of rushing against time, shitty people doing shitty things, knot in your stomach as you grit your teeth kind of scenarios, but damn is it gripping.
Choose Film 7/10
This must be where I’d heard that the AVP films were awful, because AVP: Requiem is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Although the word “seen” may not be the correct term, as most of this film is pitch black. There’s a whole slew of forgettable, no-note “characters”, many of whom look identical and none of whom have any back story to speak of. Some are introduced and killed seconds later. John Ortiz’ Sheriff Eddie Morales was the only one I gave a damn about, and that’s just because he’s played by John Ortiz. The PG-13 rating is gone, replaced by an R (still a 15 in the UK, huh?), and now featuring some real nasty, mean scenes. You know what I didn’t need to see? A hospital room full of nameless heavily pregnant women having their throats raped by an alien egg pump. No, ta.
Choose Life 2/10
News of the World
Tom Hanks plays a guy riding around the old west, reading people the news. On one of his travels he comes across a young girl on her own who cannot speak English, and he ends up having to take her to her next of kin. Along the way they have adventures, learn to communicate with each other and bond. It’s a pretty predictable story and, though I watched it fairly recently, I’ve already forgotten most of it. Everyone was decent, it looked good, but there’s nothing new here other than Hanks in a western.
Choose Life 6/10
I Care A Lot
I was equal parts entertained and aggravated by this film – it’s great, you should watch it – but the characters on display are some real diabolical bastards. Rosamund Pike heads up the cast as a woman who cons the elderly out of their assets and leaves them in assisted living facilities they do not need. Like I said, bastards. I liked that the introduction of other characters as antagonists to her didn’t lessen how much of a shit she is, it’s just a wheel of awful people spinning to an ultimate conclusion. This won’t make you feel good, but it’s an entertaining ride, and the whole cast is excellent.
Choose Film 8/10
Deep Blue Sea 3
Well this was inevitable. Mark and I got the chance to interview DBS3‘s director, John Pogue, for an upcoming episode of Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast, so it only seemed right that I should, y’know, actually watch the film first. It’s better than the second one, not as amazing as the first, but at least it tells a different story rather than being a low budget remake set mostly in a corridor. These aren’t my final thoughts on DBS3, Mark and I will spend 3 months dissecting it chapter by chapter soon, but for now this is a hearty recommendation – there are some incredible moments, great characters and fun fights – and if you’re a fan of the original (which you should be) then you’ll probably like this one too.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Hooray, another classic Star Trek film crossed off! And so far, each one has been getting better as this is my favourite so far (of the originals, I still prefer all the new ones). Christopher Lloyd was a fun surprise as the Klingon villain and, whilst he was great, I couldn’t take anything he said seriously because it’s Doc Brown with a crab shell forehead. Not the fault of him or the film, as this came out a year before Back to the Future, just my thoughts. I appreciated the simple, easy to follow yet engaging plot – Kirk and the named, male members of his crew (Scotty, McCoy, Sulu and Chekov, Uhura gets short shrift and stays behind) commandeer the Enterprise to go find Spock’s body, which landed on a planet that kind of brought him back to life, but will also blow up soon – and loved the initial heist aspect of the plot. That’s always fun, as is McCoy wandering around with Spock’s spirit inside of him. There’s a bit too much time spent on the ceremony at the end – featuring Dame Judith Anderson, Mrs Danvers herself! – but overall I liked it, and the Klingon dog was both disgusting and awesome, and I do not want one.
Choose Film 7/10
Birds of Prey
A re-watch for me, first time for the wife. It’s entertaining enough, fun characters and fights, but the chopped up nature of the plot got annoying after a while, as it happens so often but only seemed to show the fractured nature of Harley Quinn’s narrative style, as she’s basically recounting the story to us. That’s effective, I guess, but in a frustrating way. Also, on my first viewing the highlight for me was Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but this time around it felt like she was barely in the film. Ewan McGregor and Chris Messina are clearly having a ball, and the smaller scale, intricate diamond-centric plot was a refreshing contrast to the world-ending threats of other superhero films.
Choose Film 6/10
The Fighting Temptations
A background watch chosen by my wife, this is formulaic as hell (I’m pretty sure you could piece together the exact plot using scenes from The Mighty Ducks, Sister Act and School of Rock) but the comedy is good and the music is all kinds of great. You don’t need to seek it out, but if it’s on you don’t need to change the channel either.
Choose Life 5/10
Angel (Season 2)
Boy did we pick the wrong time to binge watch a couple of Joss Whedon shows. We’re carrying on regardless because they’re entertaining and he wasn’t the only person making them, but the recent allegations make us look at the events in the shows a little differently. For instance there’s a scene in this season on Angel in which aspiring actress Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) has an altercation with a male commercial director who treats her as nothing more than a sex toy, and shows disgust when he doesn’t immediately want to have sex with her, because that’s her sole purpose in the commercial. Yeah. Anyway, aside from that this was a fun season and the show has mostly found it’s groove with the cast dynamic. A bit too much time was spent with Angel being moody and separated from the rest of the team, I much prefer it when they’re all together and on the same side fighting beasties and lawyers external to the team. More of that, please.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 5)
In contrast, this might’ve been the worst season of Buffy so far. I know it gets explained away later in the season, but lumbering Buffy with an irritating teenage little sister was an awful decision, and might have made me abandon the show had I been watching it on initial release. That, and the whole Glory searching for a key storyline dragging out across the whole season was intolerable. That being said, the episode following the death of a major character was one of the most well done shows I’ve seen in a long time. Also I’m glad Spike is kind of part of the team, he’s possibly my favourite character now Oz isn’t around, and the adventures with the Buffy-bot are delightfully creepy. Oh, and Anya is super fun too. Basically I like the characters that are almost human, but not quite.
I’d heard it was great, but I was apprehensive because it’s about sport, something I’ve yet to understand the point of. Also it’s on Apple TV+, a streaming service that refuses to work on any device in my house other than my phone. My TV is apparently too old, as is the PlayStation3, and whilst the site loads on all the computers in my house, either nothing can be clicked or whatever is playing freezes after at most a few minutes. So I watched this whole season on a screen 10.5cm (4″) wide, just as the creators intended. And even with that hindrance, I loved it. I’ve always been a fan of Jason Sudeikis, and his ever-optimistic, trying his best, people-pleasing attitude was such a breath of fresh air, and it’s genuinely inspired me to try and be a more positive, helpful person. I feel like when the next season comes out I’ll get an Apple TV+ subscription for a month just to watch it, then I’ll wait another year or so and repeat, and if the quality remains consistent it’ll be more than worth it. It was odd watching this at the same time as Buffy though, as Anthony Head plays very different characters.
The Great, WandaVision, Resident Alien, The Muppet Show
I haven’t finished any of these series yet, but am watching them all and recommend them all. I’ll give more thoughts when I’m done with them. With The Muppet Show though, I’ve long considered myself a fan of the Muppets, but had never seen an episode. Thanks to Disney+ I’ve now seen three (Juliet Prowse, Connie Stevens and Joel Grey, who coincidentally cropped up for a few episodes in season 5 of Buffy). I’m hoping that every show with an attractive female guest star doesn’t have a throughline of her and Kermit flirting with one another, as was the case with both of these. Feels a bit reductive, but also of the time I guess. I loved the saxophone/triangle sketch with Zoot and the guy from Mahna Mahna, genuinely made me LOL. I’m not so much enjoying the parts where the guest star sings and dances for a while, that’s not what I’m here for.
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins – I finished a book! Yay! And it was really good! The story keeps going at quite a pace and it shines a light on the South American immigrant experience that I was otherwise very unfamiliar with. Strongly recommended. I’m following this up with Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy, which so far was a mistake because it’s bleak as anything and really not what I need right now. However I’ve started, so I shall persevere. If I’ve not made much progress by this time next month I might temporarily shelve it for something a little cheerier. Like Thomas Hardy.
All the pending LAMB applications have been processed! Work has begun on the mega LAMB spreadsheet! Other plans are underway for other potential changes! Unnecessary exclamation marks!
The shed shelving miraculously appeared on Friday (thanks Nige!), so I spent a sunny Saturday sorting my shed, and that was a pretty nice way to spend a weekend. We’ve also tidied up the hall with a new storage locker for the dog stuff, hats and torches etc, moved the coat rack, added a mirror etc. It’ll all get taken down and move once we start actually decorating the hall, which will be after the lounge is finished, but it makes it more bearable in the meantime.
Yep, there was that silly run, and a lot of little runs back and forth in the garden in our lockdown week. My goal is to run at least 100 miles a month, which I keep track of on my Fitbit and with my Strava app. Frustratingly Strava didn’t measure the garden runs being as far as the Fitbit (I measured them out, and the Fitbit is definitely closer), so whilst my watch and I know I hit my target, Strava disagrees. No-one cares about this other than me, so I’ll stop moaning and just get on with it.
Nothing good happened here. I put on 2kg. I’m annoyed, and that annoyance has led to more snacking. Gotta break out of this spiral, but all I want to do is by biscuits and salted caramel M&Ms. It also probably didn’t help that the first thing I did when we heard we couldn’t leave the house was make a batch of brownies, knowing full well that only the two of us would eat all of them. It’s what I do. Also it’s getting harder to find the motivation for the morning exercises too. I do them, but I bail out earlier, just can’t be arsed. Hopefully it’s a temporary slump, or maybe I need to try something different. We’ll see.
Not being able to go anywhere means more time for sleep. Yay!
Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast continues to continue! Monthly Lambpardy still exists too! I haven’t been a guest on anyone else’s show in ages, I guess not hosting the Lambcast made me much less of a guesting draw, huh? Ah well. I’ve got at least one guesting stint this month and another a little way off, so if anyone wants me, you know where I am.
How did your February go? See anything good? Get up to much? Let me know!