Trump was thinking of doing ‘The Apprentice’ from the White House.

Apparently, back in 2011, before The Apprentice was canceled, Trump floated the idea of doing The Apprentice from the White House if he won.

When [Trump] was considering a run for president, in 2011, he had a conversation with Steve Burke, the chief executive of NBCUniversal, who was interested in green-lighting a new season of The Apprentice. Trump could pursue one option or the other, it seemed, but not both.

[…]

…the two men had a subsequent conversation in which they broached a compromise, albeit one that seems more like a Trumpian fever dream than a network-TV reality. It outlined, presumably fantastically, that Trump should run for president; and on the off chance that he won, he would continue to star in The Apprentice from within the White House.

True story. Read it here.

This election is so. weird. y’all.

Anybody remember ‘Warm Bodies’? It’s sort of getting a sequel.

Warm Bodies was based on this book, and that book is getting a sequel. Since I’m still too busy to blog, I’m using this news as a perfectly good reason to repost my review of the movie, which was… well, horrifying, by accident? Is there a word for that? Here, read for yourself.

Warm Bodies: An Exercise in Fridge Horror

'Warm Bodies' Movie PosterOn the surface, Warm Bodies is your basic Beauty and the Beast type story – through the love of a good woman, some guy is cured of being a monster. Pretty straight-forward stuff. It’s billed as a romantic comedy with a nifty Romero veneer for flavoring, but there’s nothing too surprising going on here.

If you’re paying any kind of attention whatsoever, though, this movie is horrifying.

The movie opens with R (Nicholas Hoult), our zombified protagonist, shuffling around an abandoned airport with all his zombie buddies (including Rob Corddry as M, having a ball in this bit part), explaining the zombie apocalypse and introducing the movie’s premise to us via voice-over.

In short order, Julie (Teresa Palmer), the entirely human and living female protagonist, turns up as part of a scavenging crew that includes her bestie (Analeigh Tipton) and a disposable boyfriend (Dave Franco). The disposables are gotten rid of (the bestie survives, largely because Analeigh Tipton is just too good to be gotten rid of in the first reel) in a zombie chow-down, and R “saves” Julie because he’s been bitten by the love bug. This sets off some kind of chain reaction that allows R to regain more and more humanity until, by the end of the film, he’s a real boy again. All the “good” zombies are human again, all the “bad” zombies are dead, humanity is saved, and it’s happy endings and smooching all around.

Except not really, if you put more than two seconds of thought into this film’s premise.

Take a look at these zombies, for starters. R provides the voice-over, and it’s important to note that he’s not narrating the film from the future, IE, looking back at events that have already occurred. He’s narrating in real time. These are his actual, zombified thoughts. As he introduces the movie, he reveals that these zombies are still capable of at least rudimentary verbal communication, and remember enough of their previous lives that they can give themselves names and shuffle around mimicking the things they used to do while alive. R also points out the “bad” zombies, or “bonies,” which are the way they are because they’ve “given up hope.”

Dude, these things are still sentient. These shambling corpses still possess a vestige of memory, enough intelligence to communicate, and are at least vaguely aware of the fact that their hunger is driving them to murder people they used to care about. R says during his intro walk-through, “They call these guys ‘bonies.’ They don’t bother us, much, but they’ll eat anything with a heartbeat. I mean, I will too, but at least I’m conflicted about it.”

Being a zombie in this world is horrifying. These poor SOBs have just enough left to them to recognize how awful they and their circumstances are (otherwise there wouldn’t be enough of them left mentally to “lose hope”), but not enough to stop themselves from nomming on their friends and family. And they’re staring a situation in the face where things can get worse – they could completely devolve into bonies, and they are apparently aware enough to recognize that fate as a bad thing.

That’s just the zombie side of the equation. Over on the human side, things are even worse. Julie’s dad, Grigio (John Malkovich, who must have needed a new water heater or something), is the savior of humanity, basically, having successfully walled off a portion of crumbling city for the last remaining human survivors of the zombie apocalypse. He’s presented as an embittered hardass who had to kill his wife after she came down with a bad case of zombie. That’s pretty much his main emotional motivation in any scene (what a total waste of John Malkovich), so it’s kind of a big deal.

Which, when you consider what kind of zombies we’re dealing with, here, presents some conundrums. R’s voice-overs seem to indicate that nothing has changed with the zombies recently, which would imply that the zombies have been verbal from the beginning. So just imagine Grigio blowing his wife away while she shuffles towards him, grinning a big corpsey grin and saying, over and over, “Good morning, sweetheart.”

Jesus. You can sort of see why there’s only a handful of humans left. The zombie genre presents it as being tough enough to waste your loved ones when they’re just walking appetites. Can you imagine if it seemed like they still recognized you and were talking to you about it?

It’s either that, or these survivors are so damn stupid that they just didn’t notice that the zombies could still talk and were showing vague signs of sentience – which is possible. In the zombie genre, humans often lose at least as many IQ points as their undead counterparts. (That’s really the only way to explain what happens every week on The Walking Dead.)

All that aside, by the end of the movie, R has become human again, and he gets the girl, and the bonies all die, and the humans tear the walls down, so I guess that means everything is awesome again. And shoot, Julie hardly even seems broken up about her father’s alcoholic suicide, which must surely have happened, because there is no way in hell that Grigio doesn’t end up gargling bullets at the bottom of a liquor bottle after the revelation that if he’d just loved his wife a little more and played her some Guns N’ Roses on vinyl she’d have been fine.

In fact, considering that, I expect the suicide rate probably blew through the roof right after the survivors realized that if they’d tied their zombified loved ones up in the closet for a few months they’d have been okay.

Well, not really okay, per se. After all, the zombies are apparently still zombies, just more human-like. Rob Corddry’s M has a throw-away joke line near the end of the movie about having “zombie fingers,” as he’s trying to do something that requires manual dexterity, which, plus the fact that right after R was completely “cured” he was shot in the chest, which hurt and caused him to bleed like a stuck pig, but didn’t kill him, would seem to imply that the zombies aren’t actually alive again. Come to think of it, R didn’t die later of the massive chest wound he took early on in the film, or the bullet wounds we saw midway through, either.

So, yeah. The zombies? Still zombies. Which makes you wonder if they’re still hungry, and if so, what they’re eating. And it makes me wonder, too, what’s going to happen when whatever government eventually scrapes itself together figures out that Zombie-Americans are capable of snarfling down an enemy’s brains and reading their mind, like we saw R doing at the start of the movie.

Also, the movie’s ending presents everything as shiny and happy between the living and the dead, but come on, people. We can’t even get along when we’re different colors, for Christsake. I seriously doubt we can manage to get along with the dead. So you know those poor zombies are all second class citizens, likely being treated so badly that it’s just a matter of time before they go back to chowing down on the living.

Always be Batman.

Telltale Games makes some of my favorite video games. I loved The Wolf Among Us and Minecraft: Story Mode (the two I’ve played myself), and I’ve adored every Telltale game I’ve watched anyone else play. They make great games.

Their most recent game is Batman. Jim and I watched the video above – a playthrough of Batman with no commentary, and we agree: It’s the best Batman movie we’ve ever seen.

Batman first debuted back in 1939. He’s been around for a long time, and been through a lot of iterations. He’s been scary and campy, both fallible and unbeatable. He’s been the ace in the hole, the legendary hero, the crazy asshole. He’s faced everything the DCU can throw at him. He’s defeated everyone, some way or another. He’s been the star of some of DC’s most epic stories.

One of the most compelling things about this character is the fact that he’s just a dude. He doesn’t have superpowers. Well, he does have money, and there’s an argument to be made that money is a superpower, but there’s been plenty of times in the comics where Batman didn’t have access to his money, and he still kicked the entire ass of everything that looked at him crosswise.

The thing is, he’s not an alien. He doesn’t have a magic lasso or a space ring. He’s not a cyborg or a clone or a ghost or I don’t know. Whatever else DC has running around these days.

At the end of the day, Batman is just one guy with a specialized education and the reason that makes him so compelling is because that means any of us could be Batman. That’s what grabs people’s imaginations about this character. It makes him relatable on a level that very few of DC’s other heroes can touch.

Because Batman is so wildly popular, he’s been in everything. The comics, of course, but also the video games and the cartoons and the Lego movies and the blockbuster movies and the lunchboxes and all the related merchandise. Even more so than Superman – Batman is DC’s go-to guy when they need to make some money.

And for all that, for all the fact that he’s been starring in literally everything for over 75 years, there are still relatively few good Batman stories.

Especially when it comes to movies.

There are quite a few live-action Batman movies. There were a couple of serials back in the 40’s, and the 1966 movie starring Adam West (which was its own special, campy joy). Then we got Batman and Batman Returns, with Michael Keaton playing the role, Batman Forever with Val Kilmer, and Batman & Robin, with George Clooney. (Those were all supposedly the same character in the same universe, despite the different actors.) Then came the Nolan films with Christian Bale: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises. And finally, we got Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, with Ben Affleck.

The old serials and the ’66 movie were different critters, made well before Batman had established himself as the ultimate frightening badass we know him as today.

The Burton/Schumacher films were… hm. Yeah. Well, the first Burton film was pretty good for the time, and of all the movie portrayals of the Batman, this one probably came closest to the mark. Keaton’s Batman was physical, but more importantly, he was smart. He actively attempted to detect things. Keaton’s version of Bruce Wayne was less than stellar, but it was a serviceable attempt. The movie had a comic-booky, grim visual style, and Jack Nicholson’s Joker – and his plot – would not have been out of place in the comics.

It’s dated and goofy these days, but at the time, we were all pretty happy with it.

The three sequels that followed were not awesome. They suffered from focusing too much on the villains and not enough on the Batman. The run finally culminated in the objectively awful Batman & Robin, although that movie is notable for the tremendous amount of fun Arnold Schwarzenegger was clearly having while hamming it up onscreen as Mr. Freeze.

Seriously. Arnold was having the time of his life up there. It was the only good bit of the movie.

The Nolan movies desperately wanted to be the definitive movie Batman. They re-introduced us to the grim n’ gritty, realistic Batman. They were dark and brutal and – I’m sorry, but this is true – not particularly good. The first one was okay, and the second one had Heath Ledger’s Joker, a portrayal so creepily insane that it redefined the Joker in the comics and carried an otherwise lackluster movie. The third one was a turd and it was pretty obvious that no one even wanted to be there.

The Nolan movies were physically brutal. They introduced us to a Batman who pummeled his way through every problem. Anything he couldn’t beat up he brute-forced his way through with heavy-handed uses of technology.

Nolan’s Batman was a thug who thought with his fists.

And, okay, let’s address this. Batman is physical. One of the defining traits of the character is his fighting expertise. Barring the villain being actual Darkseid, you can expect Batman to win pretty much any fight he gets into, eventually.

Batman can also be expected to win most any Darkseid-level fights he gets into, too, though, and that’s because he’s smart. He’s freakishly good at tactics and strategy, and not only that, he builds and maintains a multitude of alliances.

Is Batman dealing with a magic user? He calls Jason Blood or John Constantine, because Bats knows his limits. Did Darkseid or a pile of White Martians just show up? He calls Superman and/or the rest of the Justice League, because Batman knows better than to punch above his weight class. Did his entire rogue’s gallery just unite under the Penguin or the Riddler to take over Gotham? He calls in the Bat Family, because he knows some jobs are bigger than one guy can handle.

Yes, Batman can kick your ass, but that’s what he does with jobbers. What makes Batman scary is not the part where he kicks your ass. It’s the part where he already out-thought you last week and he’s just going through the motions today while he plans out how to beat someone else next week.

This brings us to the Batman V. Superman version, Ben Affleck’s version of Batman. Affleck’s version of Batman also suffers from thinking with his fists. He tortures bad guys, murders them, levels city blocks with cars on chains dangling from the Batmobile. He’s everything wrong about Nolan’s version of the character, on steroids.

But he’s also the closest to getting the character right since Michael Keaton.

Affleck’s Batman is tracking down an actual, honest-to-god mystery. He’s finding and following clues. He’s finessing marks as Bruce Wayne. He’s detecting shit, people.

Batman is an expert fighter. He’s a master tactician. He excels in the art of terrifying his foes. But the heart and soul of Batman is that he is a detective. And finally, for the first time in a couple of decades, we get to see Batman, in a movie, detecting something.

Okay, okay, not well. I mean, Batman V. Superman was a hot mess. That movie didn’t do anything well, with the possible exception of 45 seconds of Wonder Woman. But Ben Affleck rewrote a bunch of it on set, and he really tried to nail down the best bits of Batman, as much as that crapfest of a movie would let him.

Which brings us back around to Telltale Games’ Batman. Y’all thought I forgot about that, didn’t you? It’s been a thousand words since then, so that’s fair.

Telltale releases their games as chapters, and we’ve only seen the first chapter of their Batman game, so they have plenty of room to screw it up, yet. But so far? Their Batman is easily the best “cinematic” version we’ve seen (outside of DC’s cartoons and animated movies, which are a whole other kettle of fish).

Telltale’s first chapter concentrates on Bruce Wayne. It’s the set-up for an immediately compelling mystery that both introduces us to Batman and centers almost entirely around Wayne. The mystery involves the Wayne family. Bruce is the guy who meets people, talks to people, and finds clues and leads. Batman shows up to do some legwork, but Bruce is the star of this chapter.

It’s interesting because we don’t get this often, and we’ve hardly seen it at all in the movies. “Bruce Wayne” is most often presented as a facade, an identity the Batman keeps up as a cover. He’s hardly a real person at all. The Telltale game gives us Bruce Wayne as a real and integral part of their Batman story, which sets it out as something more original than we’ve seen in awhile.

Batman’s appearances are very limited in this first chapter, but when he shows up, those scenes are arranged like something out of Alien. This Batman is the Thing, stalking bad guys like a horror-movie monster in the shadows.

This Batman is terrifying. And more, the Telltale guys know how to make him terrifying. This is something we haven’t ever seen in film. No other movie Batman has been scary. No other movie maker has thought to lift a page from the horror genre for their Batman. It’s brilliant and once you see it, you’re mad that Hollywood hasn’t been doing that the whole time.

Telltale has an advantage here in that their games are often presented in a far more cinematic way than other games. You often make a few decisions, and then the game steps back and shows you how those decisions play out. That’s something you don’t get a lot of in other games. You get cutscenes, sure, but with a Telltale game, the cutscene blends right into the gameplay, giving the whole thing this kind of “film” feel.

Other games, which usually take a first-person vantage point, would have a very difficult time doing something like this, but the movies? The movies should have been doing this the whole time.

So what Telltale presents to us is a story built around a mystery, being solved by a detective, and shot like a horror movie. Violence is used carefully and judiciously, as is Batman’s access to technology. Our villains are relatively realistic, and the Batman we’re watching is new to this game, still learning, still distrusted by the police, so we don’t expect him to be the nigh-omniscient, infallible monolith we sometimes get in the comics.

I don’t know what else Telltale Games has planned for the Caped Crusader, but I can tell you that if they manage to continue as they’ve begun, this, right here, might be the very best film version of Batman we ever see.

ICYMI: Stuff that happened over the weekend.

Paul Manafort is Donald Trump’s campaign manager and over the weekend we found out that he’s suuuuuper shady. Like, “made money working for Vladimir Putin’s allies” shady. Remember back just before Russia invaded Ukraine and stole Crimea, the Ukrainians were having a big revolution to oust their corrupt president who was buddies with Putin? (If you don’t, here’s a link.) Paul Manafort worked for that corrupt Ukrainian president. Made millions working for the guy.

In other news, Ivanka Trump – the Donald’s daughter – is busy vacationing with Vladimir Putin’s girlfriend. No, really. Honestly, folks, you can’t make this shit up.

The GOP is said to be “nearing a breaking point” with Trump, which is something I’d take a lot more seriously if they hadn’t already “neared a breaking point” with Trump about dozen times before. Seriously, it’s like an abusive relationship over there. I want to get them a councilor. Blink twice if you need help, GOP.

Meanwhile, Brietbart News was so sure the polls were skewed and Trump was actually winning that they commissioned their own poll to prove it. It showed Clinton winning by 5 points.

I’ll give you a minute to finish laughing.

FiveThirtyEight has a great overview of the election, as it stands so far. They go over the polls and numbers and other fiddly election bits in layman’s terms.

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, there were riots and protesting over a cop shooting an armed black man to death. CNN has an overview that isn’t terrible. You’ll be tempted to say something like “Well, that guy had it coming, he fired on the cops,” or similar, but you’ll want to remember that Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in America, and the cops have been crapping all over the black population of Milwaukee forever. It’s not so much that folks are protesting the death of this one particular man as they are the system that’s been shitting on them for decades.

And finally, you remember how that Olympic pool turned green and Rio was all, “We don’t know what’s going on, but it’s totally safe to swim in, we swear”? Turns out, not so much. The lesson here is just don’t have, like, anything to do with water in Rio. Apparently they’re really bad at it.

Okay, now go check out this tiny, wriggly, adorably ticklish puppy.