Nerd is the New Black: Civil War

Civil War (Bryan Hitch)

Full disclosure: I've already seen Civil War (twice!), and it's great.

But if you haven't and you want to head to the cinema wearing something that proclaims your Cap vs. Iron Man loyalties, or if you just want to look at some cool Civil War-inspired stuff... well, that's what we're here for. 

Let's start with the iconic Cap vs. Iron Man image from the comics, above.

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Friday Five: 5 Gifts You Can Give Everyone

It's the holiday season, a time of warmth and joy for many of us - but not all. If you don't already make annual donations to your favourite charities, this year is a great time to begin - it doesn't have to be much, because truly every little bit can help. If you don't know where to start, here are a few suggestions.
Please post more in the comments.

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Friday Five: 5 Best Airport Snacks

Airline food

Hey. Flying sucks. I mean, sure, the whole concept of flying is pretty cool: you're boarding a giant iron dragon and hurtling through the air at unmentionable speeds, in the hopes that your rocket fuel gets you to Otherlandia before gravity catches on.

But the actual process of flying is less glamorous: stress, paperwork, more paperwork, unnecessary expense, forgetting things, broken headphones, hurry-up-and-wait, screaming children, and airline food. I mean, airline food. Yeah.

Anyway, here's how we cope... with the airline food, at least. Not much we can do about the headphones, sorry.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (2014)


I wrote about the first two Hobbit movies and their major problem (they’re not about Bilbo) last year.

Last night I rewatched The Battle of Five Armies for the first time since it came out in the cinemas. And it’s hard to muster the energy to talk about it. Everything I said before is true: Bilbo is lost as a character, there’s too much about Thorin’s backstory, and there’s too much meaningless tertiary stuff.

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Ant-Man (2015)


So we went to see Ant-Man. And you know what? It’s a good film! You should go see it. Here's why: (There are a few eeensy spoilers below; forewarned is forearmed. Six-armed. You know. Ants.)

Following the bloated, gaseous corpse that was Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man is a breath of fresh air, a delightfully uncomplicated (relatively speaking) superhero origin story about a guy looking for redemption, and finding it in an unlikely place (namely, some old dude’s basement). Also, there's shrinking down to the size of a small bug, and being able to communicate with small bugs. There’s action, there’s adventure, there are some cool effects, there’s a death that’s at once hilarious and poignant, and there’s Paul Rudd, who I think many people of a certain age have squishy feelings about for reasons that boil down to ‘Josh from Clueless’.

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The Scully Effect: My Life in The X-Files

The-X-FilesThe X-Files, huh? That show people watched like twenty years ago? Who cares? I do, that's who. Now sit down and shut up while I explain important things to you.

Last week the internet exploded with joy when the long-circulating rumour that The X-Files would be getting a new season 13 years after it went off the air, was confirmed. Well, much of the internet exploded with joy. Some of the internet exploded with skepticism (‘It’ll just suck!’) and bits of it exploded with confusion (‘they’re making a television show about that stupid movie from a couple of years ago?’)

Well, gather round, folks, because I'm here to tell you why you should not just care that the X-Files are back, but should get really excited. I was there when it all began, loved the show from the beginning, and have a lot of opinions so I'm  more qualified than anyone else on the entire internet to tell you this stuff. 

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Breakout Kings (2011-2012)

Breakout Kings

There’s a particularly irritating kind of review out there – the kind that usually includes the line ‘if this sounds like the kind of thing you’ll like, you’ll like this thing.’ It’s irritating because it’s so fundamentally lazy. In reviews of this type, the reviewer will fill a few paragraphs with examples of what makes ‘this kind of thing’ before concluding, with a weary sigh, that if this kind of thing sounds like your thing, then this thing will be your thing.

But it’s not just lazy. It’s snotty. It boils down everything that makes a property enjoyable (if not unique) for readers who legitimately like them, and then tacks on the implication that the person who likes them has, you know, questionable taste.

The reviewer, we are given to understand, doesn’t really like this kind of thing but can see why someone else might. But not just any someone else: no, the kind of someone else who likes things such as this thing that the reviewer does not. You know. You and me.

All of which is unfair, given that ‘if you like this kind of thing, you’ll like this thing’ is a totally valid recommendation when it’s expanded upon. Do you like John Grisham’s books, with their action and noble lawyers and legal puzzles and moral quandaries? Then it’s reasonably safe for me to tell you that you’ll probably also like Brad Meltzer’s books. And I mean that as a legitimate recommendation! (I really do; The 10th Justice is good fun.)

All of which is a roundabout way of winding into today’s point: Breakout Kings is the kind of thing you’ll like if you like this kind of thing. And I mean that as a good thing.

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Friday Five: Five Things You Should Do This Weekend...

Cheesesouffle_5237_16x9...instead of getting ready for the holidays.

1. Watch a box-set of something

I propose that you make it something outside your comfort zone, and would like to suggest the brilliant Friday Night Lights, which is about high school football in west Texas. I know! That's totally not your thing, is it? Except that it totally is. The show is well written, well acted, sensitive, heartbreaking, and features a lot of really, really good-looking actors. There's very little football and what football is present is usually completely heartwarming. Or, at least, heart-string tugging. DO IT. DO IT FOR ME.

2. Cook

I don't mean 'make a practice turkey.' (Though now that I think about it, cooking an entire practice turkey and then spending the weekend eating it could be loads of fun. Bonus turkey!) Branch out! Try something new! I suggest experimenting with the no-less-heartbreaking-experience-for-being-a-cliche of making your own souffle... only to see it fall. Seriously, you will be so gutted. And then you'll eat it anyway, because fallen souffle still tastes like souffle. Try making a cheese souffle. Recipe here.  I would really like a nice cheese souffle right about now. I have never typed the word 'souffle' so often.

1682998513. Take a walk

I think I recommend walking, like, all the time now. Mostly because I don't do it enough myself. Folks, it's gorgeous outside these days. And people are having fires, so the air smells lovely, and everything is clean and crisp and... well, if you're in London or, my mom reports, California, everything is kind of wet right now. Maybe don't take a walk exactly this second, but go out during a lull. Bring your camera! Enjoy Stormzilla. Document the experience.

4. Play cards

Invite someone over - or find a nice quiet pub - and break out a fresh deck of cards. Here are the rules to ginrummy, and four-handed euchre. All three are great fun and can be played with two, three or four people. (Here's two-handed and three-handed euchre, also known as bid-euchre.) Ligretto is also awesome, and of course Cards Against Humanity is a sure-fire winner. When playing euchre, however, REMEMBER TO SAVE STRAIGHT SUIT. You'll make my mom very happy. And you'll make yourself happy by using the phrase 'straight suit' like a pro.

5. Reread The Hobbit, aloud

The film is only going to disappoint you. (At right: Thorin Oakenshield in happier times. Never forget.) (JARED CHECK OUT THAT PINEAPPLE.) (Not a euphemism.) (Probably should be.)

BONUS 6. Make up extravagant lies about the Victorians.

This is our favourite way to pass an afternoon. I'm not kidding.

Once Upon a Time: S4E7 'The Snow Queen'

Snow QueenAnd finally we get what we’ve all been clamouring for: the Snow Queen’s backstory. Except it’s really annoying, and doesn’t explain her obsession with Emma beyond, like, the fact that they are both blondes with magic. The Storybrook half of the episode is great, legitimately great; the Arendelle half is pretty awful. Also, everyone pronounces it Arun-dale, which drives me up the wall.

Although not as much as the visible zipper on the back of one of Ingrid’s sisters’ dresses. Who knew Arun-dale had zippers?  But we’ll come to that.

Storybrooke! The Dairy Queen transports her 'magic mirror' to the top of the clock tower. Elsa and Emma figure out a way to contain the DQ’s powers with a magic candle. Emma tries to babysit her new baby brother. Snow freaks out because Emma doesn’t seem to have total control over her powers. Emma freaks out because she doesn’t seem to have total control over her powers. Then Emma catches the DQ and the two have their own little bottle episode, where the DQ works to freak out Emma even more. Eventually, Emma lets loose with her powers, accidentally hurting Charming. Snow yells at her. Emma totally flips out and runs away.

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