Monday, June 27, 2016

Let's Talk About Rambo: Episode 29: Lagoon of Death

John Rambo and KAT are chilling in Venice, overseeing the renovations to a historic museum. Rambo appears to be super in art, but KAT probably wishes she was hyperextending somebody's elbow.

Incredibly, Gripper and Sgt. Havoc are riding by on a classic Venice gondola at just this moment. They're on their way to a local monastery, where they hope to force the monks to create high-tech missile nosecones from ceramics. They assume that the monks can do this within six hours of being kidnapped. After Gripper spots Rambo through his binoculars...

Apparently he was doing some sightseeing.
... Havoc can't help but take a few shots at Rambo and crew with a rocket launcher. The museum is almost destroyed and Rambo has to swing on a rope to save a burly workman while KAT just hangs out. Rambo asks KAT if she saw where the rockets were being fired from. KAT does not know.

"Why would anybody want to destroy this beautiful old building?" KAT asks, as though they just found some graffiti on the walls instead of just having three canal-to-air rockets shot at them.

SAVAGE's base turns out to be this really cute little house built out on the lagoon. General Warhawk is pissed that yet again Rambo has coincidentally shown up in the same location as one of his schemes. That's the risk you run when you've got schemes going down in literally every corner of the world, says I. Havoc reassures Warhawk that it's just because Rambo is "an art lover." They discover Rambo's hotel but it's too late to launch an assassination attempt tonight so they decide to wait until morning.

The next day, Rambo's pizza breakfast is interrupted by Mad Dog and his gang, who are riding their attack three-wheelers through the streets(?) of Venice and yelling that they "can't wait to cut that turkey into spaghetti!" Rambo stops lecturing KAT about the high quality of Venetian glassware just in time to fend off the attack by weaponizing his pizza, discus-style, and then turning his patio table into a deadly ramp that Mad Dog can't avoid jumping off of.

As Mad Dog escapes in a speedboat, Rambo gives chase in the attack jeep. He drives up ahead, gets on an overhanging bridge, and slices off the back half of their boat with a surprisingly short burst of machine gun fire!

Then he jumps on the sinking boat and beats the crap out of him.
It might be the most Rambo thing I've ever seen, and let me remind you that I've seen Rambo ride on the back of a great white shark.

From there, SAVAGE decides to put their plan—a plan Rambo would know nothing about if they hadn't alerted him to their presence in Venice twice for no reason—into action. Meanwhile, Rambo and Turbo are checking out an arm-wrestling bar in search of Havoc. The competitors refuse to tell Rambo anything unless he goes OVER THE TOP on their asses.

Which he does.
These arm wrestlers really know what's going on in town.

While Rambo does recon on the monastery in the attack chopper, the rest of the Force of Freedom meets with local political leaders to outline the situation. The mayor, concerned about his approval rating if the media finds out, wants to bomb the monastery—which apparently the media would be totally cool with?—but Rambo shows up just in time to stop him. It seems that there's for some reason a lot of precious art in the monastery that Rambo wants to preserve. The mayor agrees and offers him tanks, guns and planes. Rambo refuses: all he needs is some old clothes for KAT and one gondola full of fish.

You can guess what happens next.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

What's Rambo Doing on His Day Off? #19

Overseeing the renovations of a historic museum in Venice.

As seen in Rambo: The Force of Freedom episode 29: Lagoon of Death.

Monday, June 6, 2016

What's Rambo Doing on His Day Off? #18

John Rambo scales a tree and rescues a frankly embarrassed-looking cat from its vile branches. KAT, meanwhile, is nowhere to be seen.

As seen in Rambo: The Force of Freedom episode 28: Night of the Voodoo Moon.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Murder She Wrote Recaps: Season Two Finale: If the Frame Fits

It's episode 22 of season 2, and Jessica pulls double duty by sniffing out both a murderer and a notorious art thief named Binky. In a convoluted twist, it turns out that the man framed by a grieving father for the murder and subsequently cleared actually did commit the murder after all.

Jessica also has some strange conversations in which people tell her "They met at a ski resort. You know what that means." and "It's the '80s, Ms. Fletcher. Promiscuity isn't page-one news anymore!"

New York City Danger Watch: The local police chief, a former NYC cop, says that in his previous job, he often encountered people who had been murdered for their cab fare.

Friday, May 6, 2016

What's Rambo Doing on His Day Off? #17

John Rambo plunges his signature blade into a perfectly sized pumpkin as the rest of the Force of Freedom watches in rapt anticipation on All Hallow's Eve. Could it be? Yes! He's creating the ugliest jack-o-lantern Turbo has ever seen!

As seen in Rambo: The Force of Freedom episode 27: Return of the Count.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Point-Counterpoint: How Would You Fix SAVAGE?

When it comes to fictional terrorist organizations, you've got your Cobras, you've got your Spectres, you've got your V.E.N.O.M.s, and you've got your Syndicates. What do they all have in common? Not a high success rate, true; but you can't deny that each of them has a coherent—if twisted—vision at its core that is put into action in ways that offer a reasonable chance at success.

Then you've got SAVAGE. Led by General Warhawk alongside Sergeant Havoc, Gripper, Nomad, and others, SAVAGE has never even come close to succeeding in any of their operations and, if we're being honest, has never even had one plot that makes the tiniest lick of sense. Sure, the level of competition they're facing is a lot higher than that of their contemporaries. John Rambo is an unstoppable juggernaut of martial competence and down-home, redwhiteandblue-blooded American common sense. But SAVAGE's schemes could be foiled by the Scooby Doo gang.

In this Point-Counterpoint, we will explore the most sensible solutions for bailing out the sinking ship that is SAVAGE and getting things back on track from an organizational perspective.

Ross: Point. There are a lot of problems with SAVAGE, but the most prominent, in my opinion, is that the economics of their schemes make absolutely no sense. Why dig a hole beneath the Washington Monument to threaten to hide it unless your $10 million ransom demand is met? The underground excavation had to have cost at least that much already. The entire project is going to be in the red even if it's successful! Also: Why threaten international landmarks with the goal of raising $50 million to get an International School for Terrorism off the ground? That's not long-term thinking, that's spending on a personal vanity project that's not going to pay any dividends to shareholders for at least four years (if it's a classic university-style institution) or even longer (if they're taking it in more of a post-graduate direction). Examples like these are why I'm going to have to say that the quickest way to clean up this organization is to hire an experienced financial planner. Make a budget and follow it to the decimal.

Dusty: Counterpoint. Agree the schemes make no economic sense but I feel that the fix is more complex than a mere budgeting exercise. SAVAGE needs to invest in some personal development for its employees. Perhaps SAVAGE should spend some money on getting General Warhawk an MBA and he can then focus on financial leadership. Perhaps Gripper, Nomad and the others should at least get associate's degrees. An educated workforce is a more productive workforce! Hell, even some project management certifications would go a long way in SAVAGE. First step for General Warhawk after gaining his MBA: write a mission statement for SAVAGE and stick to it. If the mission is to inject chaos into the world then so be it, but don't go making schemes to collect paltry ransoms if your end goal is pure chaos. Get that mission statement straight, Warhawk, and use it to guide the leadership of your organization.

Ross: Point. Sure, investing in your workforce is important, we can't deny that. But there also have to be consequences for failure. Gripper has bungled everything he's ever touched with his flesh hand and everything he's ever clutched in his claw hand. This is a man who inexplicably tipped over a forklift he was driving when he was just feet away from escaping with printing plates for American currency. At some point, he simply must be put on a Performance Improvement Plan if not outright fired or reassigned to non-mission-critical duties. Yes, a claw hand is a gnarly accoutrement for any evildoer. But this is—or should be—a results-driven endeavor, and while he's got the look, he's just not producing. Is SAVAGE even organized enough from a human resources perspective to make this happen?

Dusty: Counterpoint. You place an employee with a disability on a PIP for failing a task due to his disability and you are signing up for a lawsuit. Let's face facts: Gripper is employed because SAVAGE needs to retain employees with disabilities. Moving on. Perhaps SAVAGE should consider de-centralizing its management and instead of a top down command style place more of the creative plan hatching on the lower level employees. Maybe, just maybe, if the lower-level grunts had more of a hand in the forming of the schemes they would feel a greater sense of ownership and pride therefore be more conscious of their actions and do less bungling. 

Ross: Point. I can see that you're coming at this from a very populist, labor-centric viewpoint, and I respect that.

Dusty: Counterpoint. I just want to know what SAVAGE wants more. Do they want to kill Rambo, make money, rule a country/world, or just cause general chaos? It's not clear and that is very frustrating. If they can just settle on one of the objectives and focus all resources on that I think they will start to see some positive results.

Ross: Point. Couldn't agree more with you there, and I'm going to go one step further and say that until they accomplish it, their sole focus should be the destruction of Rambo. Rambo is the lynchpin of all their failures. Without Rambo in the picture, there's a lot more leeway for absurd schemes and under-qualified employees. 

Dusty: Counterpoint. I can't argue against your logic on the previous point. That's right, the forces behind Point-Counterpoint are in complete agreement on this one. Therefore, General Warhawk should hold an organization-wide town hall meeting to deliver the new mission statement. The SAVAGE mission statement reads: Murder Rambo. That's it. Simple and direct. With focused and relentless pursuit I have no doubt they will wear Rambo down and it won't be long before he makes a mistake, allowing SAVAGE to fulfill the mission.  

Beware, John Rambo, once General Warhawk graduates with his M.B.A., your days are numbered.