Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It's not just me!!!!

Must share this review of STAN LEE'S HARPIES

Harpies (2007)
Starring Stephen Baldwin, Kristin Richardson,
Peter Jason, Velizar Binev, Jonas Talkington,
Atanas Srebev, Dessi Morales

Directed by Josh Becker

Jason Avery is an ex-cop now working as a museum security guard. Armed
thieves break in intent on stealing a priceless obelisk that looks like a
glowing crystal dinosaur egg that's stored within this vault-like stone
structure that looks like someone merged a Tardis with the Stargate. The
scientist/anthropologist/whatever behind the theft talks of the obelisk
giving him the power to control harpies, demonic winged female monsters of
classic mythology. Through a series of contrived events, the obelisk opens
a time portal that Jason promptly falls into, crash landing over a thousand
years in the past in a land threatened by evil harpies. Initially only
concerned with getting home, Jason gets roped into having to save the
villagers, all of whom proclaim him to be this great "harpy slayer" that
prophecy says would one day come to save the kingdom. A lot of hullabaloo
involves this gold amulet and a mortal villain seeking to gain control of
the obelisk in order to hatch a harpy army for him to command and conquer
with. If you've ever seen Army of Darkness then you can pretty much fill in
the rest of the blanks.

In fact, if you've ever seen Army of Darkness then you have absolutely no
reason whatsoever to ever watch Stan Lee's Harpies. Even if you haven't
seen Army of Darkness there's really no reason whatsoever to ever watch
Stan Lee's Harpies.

Any similarities between Stan Lee's Harpies and Army of Darkness are not a
coincidence - especially since the director is a long-time cohort of Sam
Raimi's. Any similarities between Stan Lee's Harpies and a good movie are
non-existent. Sometimes a movie is so bad it's good and sometimes a movie
is so bad it's just plain bad. Harpies is just plain bad - not even
laughably bad. This is a movie that you can tell exactly what they were
trying to do and still watch them fail pitifully every step of the way.

How pitiful does it get? So pitiful that I began feeling bad for pretty
much everyone involved with this film's creation. Poor quality CGI,
impoverished production values, uniformly bad acting, and a clichéd script:
all the stuff you expect from a Sci-Fi Channel original but this time with
an extra added layer of embarrassment. There were scenes so poorly staged
that it was cringe-inducing to watch.

And for a movie called Harpies there sure weren't that many harpies filling
the screen. Every so often a woman in a cheap nightgown with frizzy hair,
fangs, too much eye shadow, fake-looking wings, and a propensity to make
squeaky snarls that sound like a mogwai in heat takes the screen (or their
animated computer effects double does) to look appallingly stupid, flap
their phony wings, and slash someone up with their claws. As pathetic
looking and utterly devoid of personality as the harpies are, they're still
what the movie is titled after and deserved more screen time that they're
given. Heck, I'd take the harpies over the boring villain named
Bor-something and his quest to unleash a harpy horde of which the bulk of
the plot is devoted to.

Even if every other aspect of Stan Lee's Harpies wasn't an unmitigated
failure, the film would still be doomed by the Stephen Baldwin factor. The
man is no Bruce Campbell, that's damn sure. Few people are. But this is a
film that's trying to make Stephen Baldwin into Ash-lite and Baldwin just
does not have the sardonic charisma to pull it off. Campbell's Ash was a
self-absorbed nincompoop who still managed to do develop some courage and
defeat the Deadites in battle while dishing out sarcastic one-liners.
Baldwin's Jason Avery is just a guy taking things way too seriously much of
the time given the film's tone and there's no zip, no punch, nothing to
Baldwin's line delivery, not that the quips he spouts off are all that
witty to begin with. What counts as clever here is having Jason say "nifty"
in the same manner which Ash said "groovy" only without anything resembling
personality in his voice. Stephen Baldwin gives a thoroughly disinterested
performance that reeks of the producers' having paid him enough to show up
and act but not enough to act like he could give a shit.

I didn't crack a smile once outside of a slightly amusing gag involving the
difficulties of firing a catapult. Aside from that one brief moment there's
not a damn thing that works in the slightest. Shows like "Hercules: The
Legendary Journeys" and "Xena, Warrior Princess" (which the maker of this
film even directed episodes of) did a vastly superior job mixing mythology,
campy humor, and action like this one a weekly basis. It's painfully
obvious the movie they were trying to make was more ambitious than the
Sci-Fi Channel budget would allow, evidenced by the sparse cast clad in
Renaissance Fair attire; though that's something of an amazing statement to
make given this really didn't appear to be all that ambitious a film,
evidenced by how little action there is with more dull skulking about the
forest and time wasted on the romance between Baldwin and a local blonde
babe than on the actual harpy-fighting which last time I checked was
supposed to be the whole point of the film. Even the Army of Darkness
finale with Baldwin battling the final harpy inside the museum in present
time is a dead zone of imagination.

Exactly what Stan Lee had to do with the creation of this movie is anyone's
guess. His name is clearly being used to market it even though the "STAN
LEE'S" part of the title is notably missing from the opening title
sequence. All I know for certain is that this is the second Sci-Fi Channel
original movie with Stan Lee's name before the title (the first being Stan
Lee's Lightspeed from last year), both of which now share the distinction
of being amongst the worst original movies the Sci-Fi Channel has ever
produced. I'm thinking Mr. Excelsior should just stick to comic books.

0 out of 5

Added: Sunday, June 24, 2007
Reviewer: The Foywonder

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Stan Lee's HARPIES

I caught about five minutes of STAN LEE’S ‘HARPIES’ on Sci Fi Channel. No shock there. That it was on Sci Fi, that is. Sci Fi, once again balancing their decent series with some of the crappiest movies ever made. Five minutes were enough to make it clear that HARPIES was a low budget rip-off of ARMY OF DARKNESS, complete with a Tim the Blacksmith lookalike (if you’re an AOD fan, you’ll know who I’m talking about) and a performance by Stephen Baldwin that, within those 300 seconds, brought words to my lips that I never thought I’d have occasions to say.

To Mr. Stephen Baldwin:

You, sir, are NO Bruce Campbell.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Which character are you?

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Heh! I'm Aragorn! Which means I kick ass with a sword and talk to dead people!

Monday, June 18, 2007


Junjie is a North Chinese leopard at EFBC/FCC. Junie is about a month old and the son of Kim Lee and Kandgi. His name means 'handsome' in Chinese and he is certainly that. In this picture he's crawling on my shoulder, making little grunt-piglet noises as he snuffles and sniffs my neck, hair and face. This is Dave's first time experiencing the wonders of a baby leopard. He's grinning ear to ear, hidden behind the adorable cuteness that is Junjie. Ignore my fillings, please. :-)

Moments like this are why I will continue to go to EFBC for all fund raisers no matter my finances or schedule. This and having Caesar, my adopted Siberian tiger son, come running up to the fence of his enclosure to greet me even though I've been gone for several months. Money can't buy this experience. If there's been one thing in my life that's consistantly reminded me of the joys of life, it's been EFBC.

Thank you, Nancy V. for taking the photo and sending it to me!

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Rambling catch up post!

First things first.

Hi there! I’ve been away from my blog for a long time (three months now?) other than the occasional random post and swore that I’d start back up end of May after the madness died down.

The madness, in case you missed my few random posts (and I’m sure most people did), was 85 percent work related and the other 15 percent was trying to battle the stress without beating myself up for accomplishing practically nothing at home after work and on the weekends besides walking Boska, mindless housecleaning, watching a lot of bad movies, reading, being used as a comfy contoured Mommy bed for the cats, and the occasional socializing. Oh yeah, and a couple of trips to L.A. and Humboldt. But no writing, no gardening, no going through boxes in the garage. The backyard was taken over by these weird leafy tree bushes and wild sweet pea plants that grew three to four feet in height. Alien pods could be planted back there and the only one of us who’d have known would have been Boska on one of her tentative forays to find a place to do her doggy business.

The madness at work involved an office move and a clump of special events, all of which needed coordinating, along with the regular day to day jobs, and there were only two of us to do it. Long hours were worked, lists made, boxes packed, and sleep patterns disrupted by random thoughts at 2:00am involving things that needed be done that day or should’ve been done the day before. You know the type of anxiety – the mental equivalent of sitting bolt upright and screaming ‘NOOOOOOOoooooooo!’ Or maybe you don’t. If you’re lucky, you’re one of those irritating and totally organized types that never has their sleep disrupted by stray work-related anxiety attacks. Or kitten anxiety dreams, where you find a bunch of stray kittens that you have to rescue and whenever you catch one, another gets away and then there’s more of ‘em and…and…

No? Okay, so I’m a freak. Sue me. Just don’t make me dream about kittens.

ANYway, on top of the existing work stress, I also had a nasty reaction to a hormone pill called Seasonale. It sounds more like a spice mix than a birth control pill designed to minimize a woman’s period (heh…Rimmer’s infamous Kajanski disguise and the line ‘I’m having a woman’s period’ comes to mind, for all you Red Dwarf fans) to four a year, thus supposedly stabilizing hormones and reducing hormone related problems, such as migraines, cramps and mood swings. My doctor prescribed Seasonale for my migraines and for stress relief back in January when I had my physical, but I didn’t start taking it until March because of a problem getting the prescriptions called into my pharmacy ( another stressful situation that went on for a month, but we’ll just leave it at that). I’d actually started to get a handle on the stress, headaches and was losing weight before starting the pill, one of those ironical (I love that word) things that made my reaction to Seasonale piss me off that much more. A week after starting it, my skin (smooth and clear and loving the foggy climes of the outer Sunset) started getting random breakouts, I was tired all the time and I started waking up in the middle of the night with heart palpitations after a couple weeks of uninterrupted sleep. After six nights of mini-panic attacks and a longer period of sleeplessness after each one (I averaged three hours of sleep a night by the end of it), I finally correlated the symptoms to the Seasonale, did some online research and found a website where out of 200 patient comments, only 3 were favorable, and took myself off the pill. It took a couple of weeks, but my skin cleared up, my sleep patterns slowly went back to normal, and I stopped wandering around with the desperate, hollow-eyed, and slightly homicidal stare of the sleep deprived.

But dang me, it was just wretched. And I was no fun to be around either. Moral of this part of the story is Seasonale is BAD. Hell, I’ll take the 12 periods a year, thank you very much! And better a couple days a month of fluctuating hormones than 365 days a year. Feh.

Then, the week of the Great Office Packing, Boska had a stroke. She was happily eating scraps off my dinner plate (yes, I’m one of THOSE pet owners) and just collapsed and went into little convulsions. She couldn’t stand, couldn’t get control of her limbs and we thought she was gone. Boska is at least 15, for those of you not familiar with my dog, and although she was in good health, that’s a pretty good age for a medium sized canine. Half Rottweiler, half Aussie Shepard, all wiggly butt and Thurber dog face.
We pretty much figured that was it for her. I called Brian in L.A. to let him know what happened and he made plans to come see her one last time on his way home to Humboldt.

Well, to cut to the chase, Boska is currently snoring in front of my coffee table, having spent a happy two hours romping on the beach. Dogs have an amazing recuperative ability when it comes to things like strokes. Kicks our ability’s ass. I’m not complaining – I’ve had a month’s worth of beach walks with her that I wasn’t expecting to get and she seems to be improving every day. She went from needing to be carried up and down the stairs and falling over when she sneezed to galloping after birds and making her own way up the stairs, thank you very much! She still slithers down ‘em if she tries to descend without our help, but sometimes manages a rather dignified descent. Her farts are still toxic. The smell wakes me up out of a sound sleep. I keep a little clove scented odor neutralizer on the bedstand. And she still makes disgusting lip smacky noises that only dogs seem to make. But again…I’m not complaining.

Ah well, the whole point of the Boska stroke story was that it happened in the middle of move-week, on top of everything else. I pictured my gravestone and what it would say if I died that week: That which did not make me stronger finally killed me. But I made it through to the end of the week and the unpacking hell of the week after. And now we’re pretty much happily settled into our new office, the big advisory board meeting has come and gone, and things are relatively sane.

Of course, I had to go and get Muni Grunge (see previous post for definition).

Have I mentioned that my murder mystery, MURDER FOR HIRE, is being published? I’m pretty damned chuffed about that. I’ve been working with the woman in charge of cover art/production/etcetera (which covers whatever I’m forgetting) on the author bio, jacket blurb, cover, and studying up on my self-marketing skills. On the advice of Tom Basinski, former policeman and author of NO GOOD DEED, a police procedural about a real-life murder in La Jolla, I bought HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK, which so far is full of useful advice. I’m also determined to lose more weight ‘cause looking at the pictures from the days of Murder for Hire, I want my waistline back.

I am not so fond of the middle-age spread. It’s stayed off my butt and attacked my middle. My legs and butt are quite happy with all the walking I make them do, but my stomach and waist keep demanding sit-ups and workouts on the Pilate’s exercise ball. Greedy, says I. I’m going to be getting a TRX, developed by Navy Seals, and will report back as to its efficacy…effectiveness? My sister swears by it. Of course, my sister swears a lot in general, so we’ll see. Although her arms have an impressive line of muscle. I’m gonna send her on a covert mission into enemy territory and see how she does. THEN we’ll know if the hype on the TRX is true!

I am watching COMMANDO as I write the end of this post. What is the deal with Ahnold’s arch nemesis, the Australian dude in leather pants and a chainmail tanktop? OR the dude that rhapsodizes about knives cutting into little girl’s throats like butter? Of course, the little girl in question is Alyssa Milano, back when she was an irritating moppet instead of CHARMing. Truly a guilty pleasure movie is COMMANDO. I plead VERY guilty.

And now I spellcheck and send. It’s nice to feel relatively sane again.


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Muni Grunge

Also known as 'Muni-itis.' Definition: Any virus or bacteria that I've gotten in the last two years after riding on the L Taravel trains, stuffed with plague carrying people, most of whom do not understand the use of a Kleenex or hand to cover coughs and sneezes.

I have it now. I am not happy about this. The only positive is being at home for the day. And there's something to be said for being too tired and achy to do housework or exercise. A free day, as it were. I did bring some expense report stuff home to work on, receipts to sort out and put in chronological order by specific trip/purpose...but haven't touched it yet. Too tired and achy to focus. I slept in till 11:00, woke up coated in felines (five out of eight), dehydrated and with that extra body ache that comes from it (and from lying in bed for over 16 hours). Took an extra hot shower, an Aleve and many glasses of water. I'm now watching reruns of CHARMED on TNT and keeping my promise to start posting again.

Muni Grunge. Why don't people cover their mouths when they sneeze? Do they think it's a GOOD thing to leave splatters of infectuous saliva on the seat rail in front of them? Does anyone really think that snorting up their snot is a better option than blowing their noses and disposing of the remains in a tightly crumpled Kleenex put in a trashcan? Why? WHY?!!!
Inquiring and feverish minds want to know.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Den Has Been Re-Opened

Hallo, everyone! Well...all three of my readers who are left after my two month absence.

I have a long and rambling 'what I've been up to post' that I'm writing on my beloved AlphaSmart (the best writing machine EVER!!!), but decided that I needed to at least announce my return. Whoo hoo! Fan fare! Drum roll please...

So at least three posts a week, unless I'm on vacation and have no 'net access. I hope that the readers I've lost will eventually come back. And I'm also going to get back to reading blogs 'cause there is just a lot of excellent writing out there...

Mr. Fab, I'll be seeing you soon!
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