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Joe Arcieri Songs: The Mixer

Joe Arcieri is a friend of mine who I worked with for many years during my ten years working for Acme Markets.  Joe, when not stocking milk or saving lives as a nurse, is an excellent guitar player.  I have had the privilege, from time to time, of (badly) plunking my bass guitar with Joe as he melts a face or two with a great solo.

As great musicians do, Joe has written some of his own songs and keeps a soundcloud site to post them.  When I have opportunity, I will post his music here as well.

Here is his composition called “The Mixer” which you can find here.

Here are the links to the previously posted songs by Joe:

Joe Arcieri Songs: Vela and Carina

Joe Arcieri is a friend of mine who I worked with for many years during my ten years working for Acme Markets.  Joe, when not stocking milk or saving lives as a nurse, is an excellent guitar player.  I have had the privilege, from time to time, of (badly) plunking my bass guitar with Joe as he melts a face or two with a great solo.

As great musicians do, Joe has written some of his own songs and keeps a soundcloud site to post them.  When I have opportunity, I will post his music here as well.

Here is his composition called “Vela and Carina” which you can find here.

Here are the links to the previously posted songs by Joe:

Joe Arcieri Songs: V Jam

Joe Arcieri is a friend of mine who I worked with for many years during my ten years working for Acme Markets.  Joe, when not stocking milk or saving lives as a nurse, is an excellent guitar player.  I have had the privilege, from time to time, of (badly) plunking my bass guitar with Joe as he melts a face or two with a great solo.

As great musicians do, Joe has written some of his own songs and keeps a soundcloud site to post them.  When I have opportunity, I will post his music here as well.

Here is his composition called “V Jam” which you can find here.

Here are the links to the previously posted songs by Joe:

Joe Arcieri Songs: Raw Track Mix 1

Joe Arcieri is a friend of mine who I worked with for many years during my ten years working for Acme Markets.  Joe, when not stocking milk or saving lives as a nurse, is an excellent guitar player.  I have had the privilege, from time to time, of (badly) plunking my bass guitar with Joe as he melts a face or two with a great solo.

As great musicians do, Joe has written some of his own songs and keeps a soundcloud site to post them.  When I have opportunity, I will post his music here as well.

Here is his composition called “Raw Track Mix 1” which you can find here.

Here are the links to the previously posted songs by Joe:

Joe Arcieri Songs: eJam

Joe Arcieri is a friend of mine who I worked with for many years during my ten years working for Acme Markets.  Joe, when not stocking milk or saving lives as a nurse, is an excellent guitar player.  I have had the privilege, from time to time, of (badly) plunking my bass guitar with Joe as he melts a face or two with a great solo.

As great musicians do, Joe has written some of his own songs and keeps a soundcloud site to post them.  When I have opportunity, I will post his music here as well.

Here is his composition called “eJam” which you can find here.

Here are the links to the previously posted songs by Joe:

 

Joe Arcieri Songs: 3 Mod Not So Medley 2

Joe Arcieri is a friend of mine who I worked with for many years during my ten years working for Acme Markets.  Joe, when not stocking milk or saving lives as a nurse, is an excellent guitar player.  I have had the privilege, from time to time, of (badly) plunking my bass guitar with Joe as he melts a face or two with a great solo.

As great musicians do, Joe has written some of his own songs and keeps a soundcloud site to post them.  When I have opportunity, I will post his music here as well.

Here is his composition called “3 Mod Not So Medley 2” which you can find here.

Here are the links to the previously posted songs by Joe:

 

Joe Arcieri Songs: Black Magic Mix

Joe Arcieri is a friend of mine who I worked with for many years during my ten years working for Acme Markets.  Joe, when not stocking milk or saving lives as a nurse, is an excellent guitar player.  I have had the privilege, from time to time, of (badly) plunking my bass guitar with Joe as he melts a face or two with a great solo.

As great musicians do, Joe has written some of his own songs and keeps a soundcloud site to post them.  When I have opportunity, I will post his music here as well.

Here is his composition called “Black Magic Mix,” which you can find here.

 

Movie Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

I recently saw the movie X-Men: Apocalypse and here are my thoughts.  As my readers know, I am a big comic book fan and I try not to miss these films.  The X-Men, of course, are characters from Marvel Comics who deal with the implication of being born with genetic mutations which manifest as what people would call superpowers.  This film is the sixth in the X-Men series (the third in the latest run) and ninth in the franchise.

The second X trilogy has turned out to be much superior to the first; however, as they are technically within the same franchise, the continuity is a disaster.  While seeing the previous films is, obviously, helpful to understanding what is happening and why in the latest movie, one cannot look too deeply into those past films as the continuity and consistency is so lacking.

This film finds Professor X’s mutant school to be thriving, Mystique to be in hiding, and Magneto living out an ordinary life with an assumed identity.  There seems to be a relative détente between mutants and humans at this time.  Unfortunately for mutant kind, the ancient (and possibly first) mutant, Apocalypse, has found a way to revive after millennia of hibernation.  While not clearly explained, Apocalypse seems to have the ability to absorb the abilities of other mutants, but also employs an unexplained technology that was even available to him in ancient Egypt.  Apocalypse appears to be a god to the ancient Egyptians, but he is betrayed and trapped, buried under a collapsed pyramid until, in the 1980s, Moria McTaggart observes people trying to recreate the ancient technology to revive him.

Apocalypse, once revived, resumes what was left undone in ancient Egypt, and recruits four mutants (Magneto, Psylocke, Storm, and Angel (turned Archangel)) to be his “Horsemen” to accomplish his goals.  Of course, Apocalypse’s advance puts him into conflict with the X-Men and, as mutants are the source of the unrest, the government as well.

This movie had a lot of potential, especially since the last two X films were pretty good.  Unfortunately, insufficient thought went into the movie and it resulted in a pretty generic goodguy/badguy conflict with practically no explanation.

The motives and purposes of Apocalypse are never really explained.  I guess he feels mutants are superior to humans and, therefore, he should rule them, but that does not seem much different from Magneto’s inner-conflict over the past five films.  I am guessing, of course, as Apocalypse’s lines are pretty succinct and little is known about him, where he came from, and what he wants to accomplish, aside from simply dominating the world.  How he acquired his various powers, and what they are exactly, is also never explained.  The same goes for the Horsemen.  Aside from Magneto, who has a long history in the films, the Horsemen had few lines and little exposition is dedicated to revealing who they are and what their interests are or even what their powers are.

The carnage also is ramped up far beyond any prior film.  As the extent of Apocalypse’s powers is not shown, they, at least, seem to be sufficient to cause worldwide destruction.  The destruction is just ridiculous and the total lack of involvement of anyone else in the world aside from the X-Men to stop it is totally unrealistic.  Although I understand high stakes is supposed to make the conflict important and compelling, I think having lower stakes and more personal conflicts a welcome change and often make for better stories; Ant-Man and Marvel’s Netflix series are a testament to this.

I have to say the performances in the movie are very good and the character development of the main cast (Magneto and those on the X-Men side) is well done.

Just as an aside, why can practically every super hero, or super hero group, find happiness, levity, and fun, while the X-Men, and other mutants, are constantly dour, persecuted, and sullen?  Weird.

In sum, this movie has a lot of great elements and a lot of potential, but it is diminished by a lack of development of the villains.  It is a fun and entertaining film if you just do not think too much about it.

Three post-scripts: Olivia Munn’s casting as Psylocke is genius.  She looked exactly like her comic book counterpart.  Also, Hugh Jackman, as Wolverine, makes his obligatory (albeit brief) appearance in an X movie (as he apparently must in every X movie), this time in a critical (and violent) scene in his Weapon X persona.  Finally, Quicksilver has yet more well done, and funny, scenes moving at high speeds as everyone else seems stationary from his perspective.

Movie Review: Deadpool

I recently saw the movie Deadpool, and these are my thoughts about it (this review contains some spoilers).  It should be noted that I am a big fan of comic books, and Marvel Comics in particular, and have been so since I was at least five years old.  I am sure that fandom biases my review in some way.

Unlike the other Marvel movies I have reviewed on this blog (like Captain America: Civil War, Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ulton and Guardians of the Galaxy), this film is not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but is part of the X-Men Film Franchise which is owned by 20th Century Fox.  Although all of the characters in both franchises are Marvel Comics characters, the film rights to those characters are distributed among different companies.

This film is Rated “R”, and it bears that rating for very good reasons.  It has a lot of graphic violence, some brief (non-genital) nudity, a somewhat explicit sex scene, profanity, and a lot of crass jokes.  Indeed, this film is crass to say the least.  So, if such things are not one’s taste, then this film is not for you.  I am typically not a fan of such things myself – I usually avoid such films – but sometimes, as in this film, I do not mind them as they are presented in such a way that makes them tolerable.  I admit that, if this were not a superhero film (a genre I enjoy), I likely would not be as accepting of these elements of the film, nor would I have been as interested to see it.

For those not “in the know,” Deadpool is mercenary whose superpower is the ability to heal superhumanly quickly from virtually any injury.  He also suffers from some form of schizophrenia.

What makes this film so good is the fact that it is a superhero movie done as a comedy with action sequences done in the slick and stylized and well choreographed style of Quentin Tarentino.  So, needless to say, everything in the film is over-the-top and exaggerated and wrung out for comedic effect.  Unlike most other superhero films, the world is not ending and there is no great moral tragedy in the narrative.  Instead, it is just a guy out for revenge, and the tone is nearly always light and bouncy, as it seems the film is out for laughs as much as it is for action thrills.

This film takes nothing seriously and that is what makes it such a good film.

The violence – though bloody and graphic – is, strangely enough, done in a very comedic way.  I realize that sounds perverse – as killing and maiming are not funny – but if one steps back and accepts the unbelievably of it all, one can see the humor in the presentation.  Of course, I could be simply contributing to the dulling of my own senses, so that is something to consider.  I guess one could say that the violence in the film is sort of like slapstick on steroids and that makes it funny despite the gore.

Deadpool appears to suffer from some form of schizophrenia which allows him to break the fourth wall at will without undermining the structure or presentation of the film.  Deadpool is also, as a character, a guy with a razor sharp quick wit (albeit often crass), and is always joking around and talking a lot.  As a result, he delivers a ton of lines in a manic fast-talking machine gun like fashion throughout the film. Deadpool’s lines are hilarious and clever and his constant stream of funny lines help serve to lighten what would otherwise be pretty violent action sequences.  If you combine his wit with his schizophrenia, the film becomes even funnier.  His schizophrenia allows him to be unintentionally self-aware.  So, for example, Deadpool (who is played by Ryan Reynolds) makes fun of Reynolds from time-to-time.  Or, as another example, Deadpool observes that only two other X-Men are in the film yet they live in a giant mansion which could house dozens.  This causes Deadpool to wonder aloud as to whether the budget for the movie could afford more X-Men.  My favorite self-aware jokes were the digs Deadpool had on the Green Lantern movie which also started Reynolds as the titular superhero.  Not even the opening credits were safe as the characters were introduced as “hot chick” or “bad guy” instead of their actual names.

So, I have to say that I truly enjoyed this film.  Yes it is violent.  Yes it is crass.  But, if those things are not instant turnoffs, I think one will see how well this film handles those elements of the film.  As my readers know, I love superhero movies, but I especially love unique and/or interesting takes on the superhero film genre, and this film certainly qualifies as that.  This, perhaps even more than Ant-Man, is as much comedy as it is superhero film.  Needless to say, I, and the gentlemen with whom I saw this movie, laughed the entire way through, and probably enjoyed this film more as a comedy than as a cool action film with well choreographed action sequences.

Movie Review: Captain America: Civil war

I recently saw the movie Captain America: Civil War, and these are my thoughts about it (this review contains some spoilers).  It should be noted that I am a big fan of comic books, and Marvel Comics in particular, and have been so since I was at least five years old.  I am sure that fandom biases my review in some way.

By way of introduction for the uninitiated, Civil War is a movie based on Marvel comic books that falls at the beginning of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  This movie is the thirteenth in the film series, which also includes three seasons of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (a television series), two seasons of Agent Carter (also a television series), Daredevil and Jessica Jones (Netflix series), and five Marvel One-Shot films.  Needless to say, this film is deeply entrenched in a clearly established, long running, and sprawling interconnected media universe.

I thought the prior Captain America film, called Winter Soldier was the best of the Marvel movies thus far, but I think Civil War is just as good, if not better still.  If the viewer is a comic book fan and/or Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, this movie hits all the right spots.  This movie is nearly top to bottom action and almost all of it is really well done.

When I first heard about the full cast in this movie, which more or less includes almost every major movie superhero thus far (Hulk, Thor, and a couple of others are noticeably absent), namely Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Agent Carter, Scarlett Witch, Vision, Falcon, War Machine, Ant-Man, Winter Soldier, Thunderbolt Ross, and Agent 13, as well as two new (for the franchise) superheros, Black Panther and Spider-Man, not to mention the villains (Crossbones and Baron Zemo), I got concerned that this film would fall prey to what afflicted Spider-Man 3 and the later Batman films in Burton series, which was way too many characters crammed into a film.  My concerns were unfounded.  Marvel has done an astonishing job juggling its characters over all of its films and, as a result, they have been able to include a boat load of characters in their films very successfully.  I think that is because, despite the long list of characters, they do not weigh the film down as there is no imminent need to flesh them all out in this film in particular as Marvel is confident future films will do the job.  Merely plugging them in where needed, and adding in those puzzle pieces for the purposes of advancing the story of this particular film suffices for the moment; they will be fleshed out elsewhere (or have been fleshed out elsewhere already).  This reflects the new reality of serialized film making and I like it.

As with the other Captain America films, this film relies just as much on the emotional relationships between the characters as it does the action sequences, which is refreshing because, although fans of these movies really look forward to the action, the character development is really what drives these movies, makes them interesting, and keeps them popular.  The relationship between Captain America and Iron Man is, obviously, a main focus of the film, but there is also the relationship between the Vision and Scarlett Witch (hints of a romantic relationship just like in the comics), Hawkeye and Black Widow, the Black Panther and his father and the Winter Solider, and Captain America and the Winter Soldier that are highlighted.

The dispute that arises – which causes all of these relationships to strain – centers on whether the Avengers – and other superhumans – need to register with the United Nations, as the world has determined them to be too powerful to be left unchecked.  Iron Man supports registration while Captain America supports affording the Avengers the freedom and liberty to act as they need and when they need.  While the world pursues registration and the Avengers debate its merits – due to the various disasters in which the Avengers were involved – Baron Zemo (who, in this iteration, is not a Nazi, but someone who lost his family due to the events in Avengers 2) simultaneously incites a conflict between the Avengers in the context of the registration by framing the Winter Soldier for the assassination of the Black Panther’s father and discovering how to trigger the Winter Soldier’s Hydra/Soviet mind programming.  Of course, the lines are dawn between the Avengers, which results in a conflict and a fantastic battle scene among them that is, at the end of the film, left fairly unresolved.  I like the idea that the conflict is not wrapped up in a tidy bow at the end of the film.  There are still a lot of issues to address in future films, which, in my mind, makes them even more interesting to anticipate.  There has been a lot of criticism leveled at this movie that no one of significance died or was killed, but I am not sure how significant that is in light of the fact that the characters are disunited, the relationships between all of the characters is strained, and the dispute of the film is unresolved in significant ways; these aspects give the story weight and significance (and death is not the only means to that end).  It is also worth noting that the fights were between friends, so it would not not be surprising that they pulled their punches in order to not significantly hurt one another; that may explain why no one died as a result of the battles.

In addition to a clear and compelling story with actual significance, this movie also featured the patented Marvel comic relief.  As much as I appreciate more “serious” comic book movies (like B v S), I always love how Marvel can work in some light moments.  This film is arguably the “darkest” of the Marvel movies, yet even in this film, the occasional humorous moment is appreciated and always well placed.

With the exception of the primary antagonists (Captain America and Iron Man), the standout characters, to me, were Black Panther, Spider-Man, and Ant-Man.  I went into this movie expecting Black Panther to be just another character and, possibly, a little lame (I am not a big fan of his in the comics).  I can honestly say that I was completely wrong.  The Black Panther is one of the characters who drives the story and he, to put it simply, is just so cool.  His fight scenes were absolutely fantastic – my favorite of the film – especially his fights with the Winter Solider.  Those fight scenes were some of the best and expertly choreographed that I have ever seen.  The Panther’s fighting style is light and exciting, but his impact is heavy and quite serious.  His suit is not lame in the least (as I expected) and leaves some mystery as to how it works (it is vibranium).  Furthermore, his role is not merely as a superhero, but as the head-of-state for Wakanda (his superhero persona is the embodiment of Wakanda), so that makes his approach and perspective a lot more interesting than mere superhero.  Also, and refreshingly, he is a noble character who introduces the concept of forgiveness to the mix.

Spider-Man is my favorite comic character.  He only made a cameo appearance in this film, in order to introduce him for his upcoming solo film, but what he did do was, to turn a phrase, amazing.  I am so happy that it seems movie makers finally got Spidey right: a young, skinny, teen-aged boy, with a squeaky voice, little money, absolutely no idea what he is doing, and a constant flow of words which are generally pretty funny.  Spider-Man, appropriately and needless to say, was the source of a lot of humor in the movie.  Quite honestly, the movie did not need Spider-Man at all, and his scenes were clearly inserted a a way to introduce the character as opposed to advance the plot of Civil War.  In that way, I imagine one could criticize his insertion into the film as unnecessary, superfluous, and somewhat shameless in promoting another Marvel movie.  If I were not a Spider-Man fan – and did not absolutely love how he was presented in the film – that criticism may have had traction with me; however, as I love Spidey and what they did with him, I loved it.

The same goes largely goes for Ant-Man as it does for Spider-Man.  Now, Ant-Man was previously introduced in his own film, so Civil War did not serve quite the same purpose for Ant-Man as it did for Spider-Man.  In saying that, however, Ant-Man is a sort of minor character and the film did help push him into the greater story in a way his own film really was not able to do.  In addition, Ant-Man, in addition to Spidey, was another source of humor in the film.  It seems Paul Rudd (the actor playing Ant-Man) can’t help but be funny.  So, with Spider-Man on Iron Man’s “side,” Ant-Man was on Captain America’s “side” that side’s bug-themed superhero providing comic relief.  Without giving too much away, Ant-Man revealed a secret that made his presence a lot of fun and added another, and unexpected, element to the battle scene.

Finally, it is worth reiterating again that the fight scenes in this film were fantastic.  They are probably my favorite of the Marvel movies so far.  I think it helped that the battles were mainly between friends who really did not want to hurt each other, which allowed some humor (mainly via Spidey and Ant-Man) to get into the mix.

As a final word, allow me to say that I was a little jarred at the casting of Marisa Tomei as Aunt May.  Her role will obviously be fleshed out more in the upcoming Spider-Man film, but, as a purist, I was a little disappointed that Aunt May was not an older woman as she is in the comics.  In saying that, I guess it does not make much sense that a 15 year old’s mother’s sister is elderly, which probably explains the younger casting.  Also, I absolutely loved how, as a nod to the comics, the Falcon controlled a small bird-like drone.  His ability, in the comics, to communicate with a bird is, quite frankly, lame, so I am glad they made it cool in the movie.

In sum, I highly recommend this film.  It has a good plot, some fun humor, fantastic fight scenes, good characters, and a real impact on how the franchise will play out in the upcoming films.

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