Wrong Places

My car killed the ignition after I already had two feet out the door and one hand, with accompanying armpit, bundled up with merchandise.  The snow seeped up and over my sneakers, and the snow chilled my ankles as it soaked into my low-cut socks.  I’d already had to deal with the cold for two weeks straight, and my solution was to ignore it.  Wearing extra layers was for suckers, I’d say.  So I tip-toed from the car parked on the adjacent side of the street to the lawn of my good friend’s house.  The house itself stood brown and old-looking, which seemed cool and inviting in the heat of summertime, but that day only served to make the air a degree or two colder.  A great green lived underneath a sheet of white and yellow checkerboard.  A sidewalk would have been paved had there been one, but the city deemed it unnecessary when the houses in the division had garages that could hold three cars and some kid’s three-thousand dollar ATV.  I avoided the yellow and tried to make my way up the driveway, slipping once and catching myself and my merchandise by grabbing the freezing basketball hoop.  The actions were quick and spontaneous and I had no problem reacting to them within a lone second, but I’m sure those here would have fallen on their tailbones as soon as the car door opened.

As expected, the only response the doorbell provoked was that of a yapping little pug, who ran up to the slender windows on each side of the door and threatened attack.  They weren’t home.

The sun would be setting over the horizon soon, which wouldn’t be visible but would change the neutral gray to a haunting blackness.  Knowing I had a date to attend in the next fifteen minutes (a little get-together at the Barnes & Noble), I scrambled to find a way to lay down my merchandise without it becoming wet and unusable.  My free, right hand first went down to wipe away at the snow on top of the doormat (the one at the outdoor mall that went on to kill all the indoor ones), but I lacked gloves, and all the cold moved to my palm just made things more complicated.  While balancing my product with my left hand, I took a step down and off to the right of the tiny front patio (where someone would get coffee and I would say “no, I’m good” and explain how not-great coffee is and would be asked why I’m wearing shorts and I would say “because” and explain how not-great jeans are) to grab a nasty, rotted piece of firewood.  I rolled the log back and forth in front of the door, attempting to shake off snow but only adding to it dry black specks and the corpses of bugs.  My mind collapsed in on itself until my best idea was to give up, and I set the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (we would walk through the movie section and talk about the movies we loved, think about buying some, then look at the prices and laugh) on the grimy layer of black wood I pretended would cover the snow and make the console “safe.”

So on the way back to the car, I looked back over to my left and saw this empty, frost-covered home with a SNES sitting on its front step, completely alone with the natural climate.  After ninety seconds of driving, I started to laugh to myself over the mental image.  The small, gray device would blend in perfectly with the surrounding weather, and I hoped my good friend would notice it before throwing himself under the cowboy sheets on his futon mattress.  My intentions were good, but my mind kept drawing blanks, so I really hoped he would see it as silly as I did and I wouldn’t be receiving an angry text later in the evening (when, during our walk down the Sex & Romance aisle, she would stop to take a phone call from her mother and hurriedly and sadly tell me she’d need to leave early.)


do you remember that time that

I cleaned my spare room, which was like cleaning out my closet, except for the fact that my goal was to move everything into the closet instead of letting it lay on the floor.

After moving my bed from the now-spare to the adjacent room, the spare was mostly composed of trinkets and papers I didn’t know what else to do with.  May as well throw them on the floor and worry about it later.  It got so bad I had to clean and vacuum, just in case I ever ran into a situation where I’d need to house someone (this never happens.)  The experience shook me enough to talk to myself.  There’s a bit I regret, but there’s a lot I just don’t remember.  I don’t remember writing this, this is a sweet card from someone I know but had completely forgotten about, here is an extra cable to some electronic device I bought and now can’t recall which.  The tokens are a collection of my apathy, the kind that develops when everyone is so great to you that the few who aren’t so great leave a deeper wound than is normal.  Your parents buy you the latest video game console every Christmas and birthday and you’re appreciative, but you don’t retain it in your mind as a beautiful moment.  It’s life, for me.  I am allowed to crash on couches.

I enrolled at IPFW for the Spring of 2008, the semester after I withdrew from my first stint at Winthrop.  That’s an odd fact I always forget about myself, and I wouldn’t be surprised if others didn’t even know.  At the last possible second, in the last possible moment before I had to move on, I chose to return to school.  My parents helped me sign up, I went to an advisor to register for the remaining classes (he was old and hairy, in a cool way, I remember that), and then on the first day of the first class I misjudged the amount of time it would take to drive across town so I missed class and got upset and didn’t go to one at all.  Only two days went by before I admitted it, and I must have admitted it but I don’t remember the moment of doing so.  I don’t know if my parents had to pay for it.  They still say they’ll take care of it, which I’d feel a bit less guilty about if I don’t keep remembering these silly mistakes that cost thousands.

There was my first job, at the zoo, cleaning up after wintertime, that was intensely physical  and I had a breakdown over it after only two weeks.  My supervisor had a hook for a hand.  So that’s cool.  I don’t think I ever spoke to the woman that hired me except for the first day on the phone, and I do remember walking in the back entrance one day and having the smoking ladies look at me funny, then tell me where to go.  I wonder how I looked.  I wonder if my eyes were glassy.  Because I can’t remember people names or street names, just assorted emotions of vague time periods.  The zoo wasn’t listed on my resume, because I don’t know how not to be ashamed of it.  Really, similar things would happen later.

I barely remember my first kiss.  It’s important to me, now, and I’ve put enough puzzle pieces together.  It’s a jumble.  It was five in the morning, which is my best excuse.  My nineteen-year-old tongue celibacy was shattered, and it felt good, but aside from that nostalgic physical sensation, I don’t recall much.  She pulled me in after I pulled her in, an action I couldn’t have seen myself doing then or now.  So sudden, so passionate, the whole lot if it, and it appears my brain was so overwhelmed by the action that it shut itself down.  I doubt I made the conscious decision to “forget it” and now unconsciously actually forgot it.  It stung my lip and my lip stung my head, and this perfectly teenage moment others wistfully remember is locked up for me.  When I write, I have to make up details.  The romance is there, not so much the imagery.

The past year or two seem to have a greater impact in my long-term memory, or at least I’m not forgetting these important life tales in three months’ time.  This entirely random tangent is brought to you by my own curiosity regarding memory loss via clinical depression.  My general attitude of the years 2007-2010 was of “This doesn’t matter”, a sentiment mostly true but now dealt with significantly better.  While I’d rather not have my greatest stories be at age seventeen, there are great advances in human life I’ve, apparently, let my brain totally gloss over.  Maybe it’s one of those secret concussions.  Maybe I’ll be going through some old papers and suddenly throw them across the room when I say “Oh my God, I have a CHILD?!”

Ten Podcasts I Really Like

I’ve listened to podcasts more than music, recently.  I’m not sure when the switch happened.  My favorite bands are still kept up with, sure, but the majority of what I listen to walking on campus or driving around town are podcasts, which are essentially digital, iPod-friendly, 21st century radio programs.  It was in the summer of 2005 when I first listened to the first episode of GameSpot’s The HotSpot, and I avoided going out and playing with my friends on the beach to do so.  Years went by when all I really listened to were video game-related podcasts, but then I branched out into all the other dorky mediums I’m a fan of, but then I started listening to anything good I could get my hands on.  In the effort to talk about good things and what I’m happy about (feh!), I may as well share some of my favorites.  They’re long, because they’re radio programs, obviously, but if you have time to kill and a non-visual imagination, they’re pretty great.

Giant Bombcast

I may as well start with the Mecca, you know?  Giant Bomb spawned out of this little ordeal, and with it came the old podcast you knew and loved.  What initially separates Giant Bomb from the pack is their ridiculousness in a field so very serious as talking about video games.  A lot of sites think that the way to cover material is as dryly and “professionally” as possible, leaving no identifiable person for the listener to latch on to.  Not only does Giant Bomb skirt that mindset, they live in its opposite.  Their podcasts are long and rambling (2-3 hours normally, up to 4 on E3 shows), but they can still spend the first fifty minutes talking about hummingbirds of the Harlem Globetrotters, not speaking of video games at all.  It’s incredible that all this silliness actually makes you take their video game coverage more seriously, because you can relate to them as human beings and not news-spewing robots.  Strong opinions are held and they do have dedication to their statuses as professional critics, but that doesn’t mean they won’t talk forever about Thanksgiving food on the podcast released around Thanksgiving time.  They’ll make you a fan of Deadly Premonition and TrackMania (and Persona, and Incredible Crisis, and Crusader: No Remorse), but along the way you’ll simply be a fan of Giant Bomb, too.


Let’s throw a bone to 1Up, the site bought by IGN that has seen a reduced staff every year but keeps making its content better and better.  Retronauts is an on-and-off, occasional (though they’re on a schedule this time, they swear) podcast covering classic video game franchises in detail.  The entire 1Up site, including the separate Retronauts blog posts, relies mostly on in-depth looks at or serious ponderings of games.  They’re not dry by any means, but they’re invested as journalists.  Listening to Retronauts will help you learn about video games in a historical context.  The whole range of podcasts (including Games, Dammit! and the irregularly-released Active Time Babble) create the most entertaining textbook about the most entertaining subject.

The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana

“Shoot.”  God, what an awful word.  It’s fair to say that anyone over the age of, I don’t know, ten, has realized that professional wrestling is scripted.  This is precisely the reason I love it.  “Shoot” is that word for an off-script moment, an out-of-character remark.  A whole market has cropped up for “shoot” interviews, where some sweaty chain smoker puts a poor quality camera in front of Tony Atlas or Jake Roberts, provides a bunch of cocaine, and says “Tell me everything awful about Vince McMahon, GO!” while the interviewee takes drugs and makes things up.  That was the state of the “shoot” for a long time.  Art of Wrestling doesn’t even use the term, though the interviews are cognizant of wrestling’s scripted nature.  The program is hosted by Colt Cabana, underutilized indie darling extraordinaire, who simply sits down and chats with his hundreds of friends in the business.  Nothing about the show feels malicious or spiteful.  Colt himself is among the nicest people in the profession, and that rubs off on everyone.  There are a lot of negatives in wrestling, some cleared up and some yet to be, but AOW is happy.  The wonderful cast of characters from every promotion get rounded up, and in a week’s time you can go from listening to Kikutaro to CM Punk.

Planet Money

And here’s the one outside of my wheelhouse!  Seriously, I was no expert on finances and the economy before I listened to this, but I am now!  No, seriously seriously, this NPR show makes greater issues available in small, 15~ minute chunks that I can understand.  It’s nothing like being a finances major, I’m sure, but it’s able to make sense of all those news stories you click past.  The United States bailouts and Icelandic Kronas of the world are suddenly palatable, no matter how bad the news may be.  I don’t care like I care about my dumb vidja games, but it’s the best possible way to stay informed.

Ken P.D. Snydecast

Dana Snyder is the voice of Master Shake on Aqua Teen Hunger Force.  He’s a funny guy made funnier because it’s his actual voice (basically).  Ken Plume is…an entrepreneur?  He’s at least one of those professional nerds who get to manage a website covering whatever the hell he wants.  How I envy him.  Anyway, the Snydecast really isn’t much more than a friendly check-in, with no topics highlighted before the call begins.  The two met sometime, somewhere, and feel comfortable around each other enough to argue about anything and everything.  They have a chemistry strong enough to propel a movie, I believe, but that would take something resembling a plot.  Let me reiterate: These are so pointless, and can be so funny because of it.  The show finally got on a rigid schedule starting in 2008, but fell off by the end of 2010.  It’s a sometimes thing now, but with 175 episodes in total, there’s a lot to go through (especially if you care about in-jokes.)  I’m only at 140.

Judge John Hodgman

The old Today in the Past John Hodgman recording was transformed into, in contrast to the Snydecast, a very specific view of a particular case.  A defendant is charged by a complainant and Hodgman, alongside bailiff Jesse Thorn, will render a verdict.  Hodgman is an eloquent man, basically the opposite of anyone else I have EVER MENTIONED.  The cases from the common folk themselves provide the setup, and the host delivers the punch line.  Every case is treated seriously and with respect, even when the entire 40-minute topic is over “My dad moos too much, tell him to shut up.”

The Moth Podcast

Story podcasts often drag.  While the idea of hearing an old man act out a short story seems positive (if you’re as warped as me), the execution ends up losing your attention by the end.  The Moth has spoken-word stories rather than read literature, but it enraptures you with tales that are heart-breaking or hilarious, keeping your attention with a brief fifteen minutes.  Longer form can end with greater effect, but only if you aren’t constantly pausing and forgetting everything you heard.  The Moth gives it all to you up front.

This is Only a Test

Giant Bomb’s former sister site, Tested, has a podcast on technology as equally silly.  Its personality, while not quite as rambunctious, tunes you in to the opinions of tech gathered in the nitty-gritty.  When someone praises Apple, it’s much easier to ignore it, having spent two years listening to him #TEAMTAKESIDES rather than examine beliefs with curiosity.  They’ll keep you up to date on all the latest smart phones you can’t afford (and will never have, because who is going to go through that many phones, geez, seriously?) and stop talking about that long enough to talk about bags full of raccoons.  I have a signed poster on my wall.  They’re pretty good at this.

8-4 Play

While Japanese video games used to align with, or even dictate, the American market, they’ve fallen off and directly into a weird ravine and are now completely alone.  How silly.  There’s been a lot of talk about the Japanese gaming industry, where it’s at and where it needs to go, but little is said about the now-small releases from the land.  8-4, a translation company set in Tokyo, can speak for the nation’s games in a context unfamiliar to Western-ol’ me.  When your San Francisco-based video game podcasts brush off that odd, classical RPG coming out for the PSP after all these years, 8-4 will tell you all about it.  They’re doing God’s work.

This American Life

I hope I don’t need to write a paragraph for you about This American Life.  They’ve had a TV show and chances are will still be playing the second you turn the radio on.  It’s not a story in that read sense, nor is it news in an always-current sense, but little windows into the soul.  Ira Glass hosts a program truly important to all forms of media.  It’s been going since 1995.  I don’t know why you don’t know this.

I’d say something nice about the Mega64 Podcast, too, but what esoteric crap!  (I can say: Go listen to NintenDownload X-press! right now.  It’s imperative.)  Keep in mind, I’m the nerd who actually added about a hundred more podcasts to my iTunes page, even if I don’t have the time to subscribe to and listen to them all.  It’ll happen

8/10/12: Batman’s Boots Edition

Since returning to Rock Hill, I’ve mostly lazed about, with the exception of occasionally dragging myself off the computer to take care of things.  Today’s lone validation of existence was heading to the dry cleaners for the very first time.  My suit pants and jackets have dust all over them from the last time I took them out and wore them (my father’s father’s funeral), or at least from when I dropped them all on the dirty floor after the ceremony.  For years, my mom would be the one taking our laundry to the dry cleaners, so I’m entirely unfamiliar.  The dingy buildings the service usually rests in had me wondering about “quality” of something I had no measure of judgment over.  The one I randomly walked into, right across from the dorms at Winthrop, seemed nice enough.  I half-expected to walk in and see an angry guy yelling about spilt coffee and throwing around racist slurs, but maybe that’s just because of movies.

Speaking of movies (did you notice the segue, did you, huh) I’ve since seen The Dark Knight Rises for the second time, with my dad.  The measure of hyperbole, both good and bad, in TDKR’s critical consensus is to be avoided.  I have to agree that The Dark Knight was a better film overall, but that doesn’t make this “horrible.”  Expectations shouldn’t get so ridiculously high that the same film can come out  missing one scene and be a tragedy.  Anyway, Bane is a character I love to death, and he’s relatable in all the ways your Hot Topic wallet chain-wearing kid wants The Joker to be.  My criticism remains, that the ending gets way too convoluted and then brushed aside way too quickly, but it at the very least tries for something more than, say, The Amazing Spider-Man.  Even a sincere thought is appreciated.

My feelings on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish Version) were also pretty positive, though with caveats.  If you’ve heard anything about the movie, it’s probably about how brutal and painful-to-watch the two (three?) rape scenes are.  When artists get all “I should be able to talk about anything with my work,” I tend to agree, but some topics are sensitive and need to be treated with respect.  The scenes in Dragon Tattoo are disturbing, and for the rest of the movie I prayed to the high heavens that it wasn’t just for shock value.  It turns out the scenes were relevant, character-building, and tone-setting.  The Swedish title is even Men Who Hate Women, so, you know, earned, I guess.  I don’t think of myself particularly squeamish in regards to depictions of violence or sex, but there is a line of acceptability, separating the needed versus the perverse.  Director Niels Arden Oplev puts one tiny finger right across that line, but you’ll probably find yourself justifying it by the end.

Aside from all that, it’s a pretty slick and engaging mystery tale.  Neat.

I perused the blogs of a couple of women I used to see, this morning.  The more I looked, the more I realized their similarities.  Part of that may be me reading into things, or it may be proof of a “type.”  They both have many a text post where they ramble on about whatever political or social issue is eating them up on the day, which isn’t exactly noteworthy if I do the same thing myself.  What I think is noteworthy is that both seem unchallenged.  More than unwavering, but unchallenged.  I know both are loners, with one who establishes quick and fruitless friendships while the other shuts out most of the sentimental world.  My theory is that they both rely on Tumblr or Facebook likes for the validation of their words, rather than proving those words right by conversation and impersonal argument.  The internet acts as a quick and dirty tool for enabling others.  It’s ridiculously easy to be a “friend” on the internet if all you have to do is click a Like button, while a friend in physical form requires more immediate communication.  Don’t let me be a crotchety old person or anything, because I am well aware of the overlap.  I simply believe we’ve all convinced ourselves that clicking a button is a sign of something deeper, when all it really is is the most casual note of observation.  Hell, I’ll get someone to like this WordPress post.  They’ve done it before, and I don’t know them, and rarely am I invested enough to suddenly call them best friends.  I imagine the physical equivalent is slowly nodding your head at someone completely across the crowded room, which would probably be seen as creepy.

Anyway, one cross-section I noticed was that of “Critical thinking is so dumb!  It challenges me, and that would make me uncomfortable!”  Every post similar to this will get at least ten Likes from some kid desperate for an Internet (Girl)Friend, and I don’t think anyone in the process realizes the harm they’re doing.

Excuses for Being Slow

Cold Mountain has been a difficulty all summer long.  I had been demanded suggested by a kind authority figure to read it, so, despite what’s perhaps my natural inclination to skip over it on the shelf, I did.  I borrowed the book from the library two times, renewing twice for each borrow.  After the second return I felt completely embarrassed to profess such a love for fiction while not making through one book in twelve weeks’ time (to be fair, a few comics were also taking up my time).  Not long afterwards, I saw a copy in the library’s used book sale and picked it up for less than a dollar, figuring that payment and being so close to the end would compel me to complete it.  It did.

Cold Mountain itself is a difficult book.  It is a chore to read, said in the best possible way.  Its heart is on its sleeve, and that can double as both admirable and excruciating.  The pure mechanics of the story-telling are fantastic, mind you, and I find little fault with its plot or dialogue.  The book simply weighs heavy.  I remember reading the first chapter and putting it down for a couple of days.  That wasn’t because I was unimpressed.  I was, in fact, so impressed that I had to let the words sink in.  Chapters are so long and so dense that I find trouble mentally yelling to myself, “Yes, more, immediately!”  Half of the book gives you a Hell on Earth, and the other half examines a life of boredom and brutal farming work.  The romance isn’t too romanticized.  Passages will punch you in the gut and take the breath out of you, and you’ll put the book down to catch your breath with some other book’s tepid words.

Cold Mountain is verbose and clinically specific.  Charles Frazier could teach Aaron Weiss a thing or two about namedropping regional flowers.  Its plot does eventually tie together in a phenomenal way, but it often seems lost in favor of rambling about the environment.  There’s a lot to learn about the Carolinas of the 1860s, it turns out.  After enough rambles, I question if Frazier wants to write a personal journal or a topographical schoolbook, though he does neither poorly.  I always seem to prefer the inner monologues, and those are what hurts your heart.  That’s what caused me to spend an entire summer on one novel.  It’s not bad, it’s really quite, quite good, but it’s also a gaping wound in your neck that needs to heal.  The breath leaves you because the book needs breath of its own, to slowly, often achingly, build to its damn-near perfect conclusion.

I have the 2003 film adaptation right here (again, taken from the library) and I’m a bit worried to watch it.  Cold Mountain wasn’t God-tier, but it was still very good, and now here’s this Hollywood adaptation.  I hear it’s great.  But I also look at this DVD box and see Jude Law and Nicole Kidman’s giant, commercialized, oddly “perfect” faces staring at me.  The book is ruthless in content and execution, and I’d be mighty surprised if any of that will carry.

8/1/12: Biscuits & Gravy Edition

Home is home.  I went out of my way to help remove a stump from the front yard, basically to justify my lounging about in a different environment.  Tools!  Gloves to avoid splinters!  All sorts of experiences I don’t have in my little bubble.  In thirty years I will build a shed and blacken my thumb with a hammer shot and look in ecstasy at the “new experience.”  Anyway, my dad put a chain around the stump while I accelerated the van forward, which went reasonably well and didn’t tear up the entire front yard and all the power to the neighborhood.  I consider that a plus (pluses are when life avoids turning into something Chuck Jones produced.)

Before all that, I tried some of the LittleBigPlanet Karting beta before it ended yesterday.  The game is exactly what you’d expect: Mario Kart with lots of customization.  There was a time and place where you’d trip over at least twelve Mario Kart clones before reaching the counter (Crash Team Racing, Konami Krazy Racers, Bomberman Kart, even Chocobo Racing for God’s sake), but LBPK feels fresh.  Obviously, the formula isn’t fresh.  It’s Mario Kart.  But, with the exception of 2010’s Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, that style of game is out of favor.  I don’t want a renaissance of the genre, but a good one every couple of years is sufficient.  The LittleBigPlanet series demands a focus on customization, often in favor of the “tightness” of gameplay, but that means it can have a longer shelf life.  Not only are the racing and aesthetics fun, but so is the possibility of encountering new characters and tracks years down the line.

Playing LBPK also reminded me of how much I’m looking forward to PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, which is a direct ripoff of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series.  It’s astounding that there aren’t more direct ripoffs of SSB, considering how much they sell.  Nintendo’s games are both very original and very infrequent.  It was seven years between SSB Melee and SSB Brawl, and it may be another between Brawl and the next iteration.  In that time, why not let another crew take a chance with the same style of game?  I’m down for non-Nintendo ripoffs between the official releases.  All the buzz about what Sony is doing reminds me of Darksiders, which no one could discuss without mentioning its similarities to The Legend of Zelda.  Instead of throwing it out to the wolves, players embraced it, totally okay with an off-year LoZ.  While publishers keep chasing the copy-Call-of-Duty model, I do wish they’d start copying other things, too.  Why is it that The Great Giana Sisters is the only 2D Mario ripoff I can think of?  Try some more!

Of course I have to mention that I saw The Amazing Spider-Man last night, and of course I have to repeat many of the same points you’ve heard somewhere else.  The film simply has no reason to exist, especially as a hardline reboot.  It’s an alright flick, overall, but it lacks the overwhelming joy of “we are seriously making a spider-man movie oh man how awesome is that he finally hits the big screen this is so phenomenal.”  It’s just Spidey, doing what he do, which is putting money in Sony Pictures executives’ pockets.  Money is the reason it exists, moreso than any good or bad qualities.

First off, if you have any money to spare and haven’t seen Batman yet, Spider-Man is good!  Let’s get the positivity out of the way, to prove it exists.  I will never, ever tire of watching Spider-Man fight his rogue’s gallery in Hollywood blockbusters.  The character’s powers and abilities give variety to the action scenes, and it’s rarely predictable.  Spidey receives two important characteristics that the Sam Raimi-directed films slacked on: wit and scientific intelligence.  The Lizard is an inspiring choice for a villain, not for reasons as much as fight scene brutality.  And Emma Stone plays a pitch-perfect Gwen Stacy, once again stealing every production she’s in.

What I heard long before the film’s release was that it would be better than the Raimi films because Sony had hired “better actors”.  On the whole, this may be true, but in adaptations you must cast those who fit the roles rather than those who have accumulated more Oscar nominations.  Some may say Sally Field is a better actress than Rosemary Harris, which is fine, but Harris is the better Aunt May.  For nearly everyone besides Emma Stone, this is the case.  Andrew Garfield is the most egregious, and his portrayal (or the writing’s) of Peter Parker is almost completely off-key.  Far be it from me to stomp around complaining about “his suit is slightly different!!!” like people did on the first one, but these issues feel substantial.  It’s not a character evisceration like last year’s Green Lantern, but a miscommunication.  In The Amazing Spider-Man, Parker doesn’t wear glasses because he needs them.  He doesn’t.  He just wears them to look…cool?  Hip?  Relevant?  Like he’s in an ironic band?  He looks, acts, and talks exactly like the coolest kids in my high school would, but the character is written to be an outcast.  I guess he is an outcast, because he wears glasses.  Like all nerrrrrds.  Parker is an angsty teenager, sure, but by the end of the movie he hasn’t grown out of it.  His love for Gwen Stacy is handed back to him, apropos of nothing, even though this character is supposed to be a gigantic nerd who struggles in his daily life.  Things just happen.  When Parker actually dons the mask and becomes Spider-Man, there’s no triumphant moment of seeing him adjust or realize his moral standards.  The death of Uncle Ben isn’t a driving factor, it just sort of happens, there, and people cry and get over it by the next scene.  All this shoddy work is backed, justified, as director Marc Webb would say, by “Well, we’re closer to the comics!  He meets Gwen first!  He builds his web shooters, they’re not organic this time!”  The actual plot and characters of the film are pale in comparison to the original Raimi films.  Rather than do things like make people important or give scenes meaning or include a story arc, it relies on faith that long-time comic book fans will forgive all the flaws as long as there are a couple little things closer to the original series.  Holy crap, I almost forgot to mention that at one point, in a scene with Gwen, I almost thought to myself “Is Spider-Man going to date rape her?”  Half a joke, of course, and I know Marvel would never let that happen, but you don’t want your nerdy outcast character to come across as a douchey fratboy.  Sure, the Spider-Man of the comics has wit, but not at the expense of the emotion.  He also grows into an attractive man, but this is after he grew out of his shell.  Andrew Garfield is a witty, attractive guy, but that’s not appropriate for high-school aged Peter Parker.  Don’t just turn a webcam on and say “I LIKE FOOTBALL AND ALSO STAR WARS” and pretend that saying the name of a sci-fi series gives you Asperger’s.  The character is designed to struggle, and eventually succeed, not succeed and then succeed and then explain it away with a “yeahwell..enghhh…” and shuffling of feet.

It’s fluff, is all, and many Spider-Man comics over the years have been such.  The Raimi films were criticized for having too much emotion, but the polar opposite doesn’t make it better.  (It makes it worse, considering how important characters are to Spider-Man.)  (Unless you want to make a complete spin-off, which is fine as long as you don’t half-ass the other points.)  The Amazing Spider-Man, had it not been so successful to warrant a sequel, would be one of those comic book movies you find on Netflix in two years, remark “Oh, yeah, I never saw that one” and watch, then come away entertained, but not enthralled.  It’s a decent film that ends up right in the middle, but the past fifty years of Spider-Man material has built itself on being better than average.

Oh, yeah.  Hahahahaha, Bing!