Danielle Explains

Night of the Crabs

This week Danielle is dredging up the 1976 pulp horror novel Night of the Crabs by Guy N. Smith. When a pair of swimmers disappear off the coast of Wales it’s up to well-known botanist, and uncle to one of the missing swimmers, Cliff Davenport to uncover what happened. Why, exactly, it’s up to him is anyone’s guess, but Cliff quickly proves himself by uncovering crab tracks on the beach (is that a thing?) and concluding his nephew was murdered by sheep-sized crabs. Spoiler: Cliff is wrong, they are, in fact, cow-sized crabs; c’mon, Cliff, do better. Cliff is made to quickly forget the grief of his lost nephew in the arms of the nubile and newly divorced Pat, who is one-hundred percent on board with giant killer crabs, having seen crab tracks herself (no seriously, are crab tracks a thing?!). The two investigate and have sex in about equal measure, but it’s not until the nearby secret, but not too secret, military base is attacked by an army of giant, invincible crabs lead by, as dubbed by Cliff, the cunning King Crab, that anyone else takes notice. Cliff, now somehow a marine biologist, works with the department of defense to devise a plan to entomb the crabs in their underwater cave. This plan, predictably, fails spectacularly, and so many are killed by the enraged crab army Danielle had to give up keeping count. All Sam knows is that he has a new hero: All hail King Crab!

Now You See Me

Danielle brings a little magic into our lives this week with the 2013 movie Now You See Me. When a group of random magicians (sorry, illusionists) are recruited to partake in some fancy heists, Sam could not be more excited because, c’mon, magic heists! The all-star cast agrees to hit the targets designated by their mysterious benefactor—in the first instance, a French bank—as they perform the robberies while live on stage. Sam’s excitement quickly disappears like a rabbit into a hat as they proceed to just give the money away to the audience, and Danielle is unable to give a better explanation as to why these random performers would give away their heist money other than “For the love of magic?” Now pursued by the FBI and, even worse, Morgan Freeman the magician spoiler, the heists, and magic tricks, get progressively less believable, especially mentalist Woody Harrelson who legit can just mind control people like Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luckily, the movie never slows down long enough to let you consider the ridiculousness of it all, throwing pure insanity at the audience like Dave Franco using magic-fu to fight FBI agents and a card trick that involves sticking a card in a sapling and then waiting 20 years for the tree to grow around it. Right from the start Sam demonstrates a knowledge of magic and and magicians that was as much a surprise to himself as it was to Danielle, but even he can’t fathom how that tree thing is a good trick, even from an entertainment point of view. There’s nothing up our sleeves as we attempt to make logic appear out of thin air for this move, so pick a card and enjoy the magic!

Love Cells Season 2

Danielle is super excited to return to the the K-drama well with season two of the series Love Cells (연애세포 시즌2). If you, like Sam, remember anything at all about the first season of Love Cells previously shared by Danielle, that’s a real shame because it will only serve as a source of confusion as season two seems to be completely unrelated to the first series, with the notable exception of the return of the return of Navi, the love cell cat girl thing. If you don’t remember the first season of love cells, that sentence was indecipherable, but don’t worry, as Danielle explains the show it will definitely become no clearer what’s happening. This season includes a love cell bank and a devious scheme by the love-struck co-host of a cooking show stealing the love cell of her chef crush from the bank and then implanting a kill device in it when it’s eaten by a cat and turns into a girl and using that threat of death to force the love cell cat girl to trick the chef into dating her. We promise, there is no clearer way to state that. Sam is, understandably, lost and Danielle does her best to explain all the characters’ machinations, but they both get lost in the weeds of trying to find any semblance of logic in this show. So join us for one heck of a ride, and if you stay to the very end we might even solve the movie Cats for you; you’re welcome.

The Eternal Enemy

Danielle digs deep into the 90s’ well with the Christopher Pike novel The Eternal Enemy. Rela is just a normal girl who loves boys, cookies, and VCRs. Her life goes off the rails when the VCR she just bought turns out to be recording TV shows from the future! This doesn’t really matter as Rela is more interested in the cute boy, Chris, at her school. However, Rela does record a future news broadcast where she’s murdered by a weird stalker, but she decides her best course of action is to go about her daily life, as one would. Sam is already confused about what’s going on, and that’s before the stalker turns about to be Rela’s grandfather from the future trying to preserve the robot takeover of Earth. There’s a lot moral waffling about what has a soul and if humans should be replaced by cyborg hybrids, but Sam is firmly on the robots’ side in all this despite the best arguments to the contrary. If you think the philosophizing is confusing, wait until all the weird time travel paradoxes rear their ugly heads. So enjoy Blockbuster, VCRs, and startlingly fast adoptions in this 90s fueled sci-fi drama!

Joe Versus the Volcano

This week Danielle brings a movie she has an uneasy history with, it’s the 1990 Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film Joe Versus the Volcano. Joe Banks is your typical work-a-day cog, unhappy with his life. Fortunately (?) he learns he has a rare disease called a brain cloud, which is asymptomatic but will kill him in six months. Joe accepts this without question, and so also agrees to help a millionaire superconductor magnate secure the mining rights on a small Polynesian island by jumping into a volcano. None of this crazy plot really matters because this movie has, just, so many Meg Ryans, you guys, so many. It seems Sam and Danielle have uncovered the truth of the Tom Hanksiverse series of movies and it will shock you (it’s Meg Ryan, the truth is it’s Meg Ryan all the way down). Despite these shocking revelations, Danielle and Sam manage to get through this movie about a man dealing with his mortality through encounters with a series of Meg Ryans, but they have one qualm with the film: It needs more Meg Ryans.

The Arm of the Starfish – Part 2

This week Danielle has the thrilling conclusion of Madeleine L’Engle’s The Arm of the Starfish. Adam finally learns a bit about the experimental work of Dr. O’Keefe, and Sam is aghast at the reckless disregard for safety and scientific rigor. Adam seems less bothered by this and is ready to commit to O’Keefe and his work, but O’Keefe, inexplicably, insists that Adam go on dinner date with Kali at her father’s hotel first. Before leaving for the date, Poly has a premonition and insists Adam take a switchblade syringe filled with shark tranquilizer and conceal it in his swimming trunks for when he and Kali inevitably go swimming. It’s difficult to convey how truly crazy this is, and it’s even crazier that they are indeed attacked by sharks but are saved by the kinda psychic dolphin. After that incident, O’Keefe gives Adam the assignment to slip some secret papers about his work to his friends in the embassy right under Typhon Cutter’s nose. It’s a plan that is far too unnecessarily convoluted to get into here, but there are complications, backstabbing, mortal peril, and some truly hilarious attempts at cloak-and-dagger shenanigans. Also, just when this book should be over, there are more shark attacks. Seriously, for a book titled The Arm of the Starfish, there are way more sharks than you’d think, and and way fewer starfish.

The Arm of the Starfish – Part 1

This week Danielle breaks out the Madeleine L’Engle classic The Arm of the Starfish. Adam is your typical-sixteen-year old biology prodigy on his way to Lisbon to work with superstar biologist Dr. O’Keefe. While being held up at the airport because of fog, Adam is approached by the attractive Kali who warns him not to trust the O’Keefes. Adam is perplexed by this encounter, but shrugs it off as he jets off across the Atlantic, before making an unexpected stop in Madrid due to yet more fog. While there, a friend of the O’Keefes, a priest named Canon Tallis, is escorting Poly, the twelve-year-old daughter of the O’Keefes, back from a vacation in the U.S. Tallis asks Adam, the teenage boy he just met, to take over the escort duty of this young girl while he does some business in Madrid. This is the first of many bafflingly terrible decisions every character seems to make. On the flight from Madrid to Lisbon Poly is immediately, and expertly, kidnapped. Fortunately, Dr. O’Keefe is nonplussed by the loss of his daughter when Adam arrives. Later, while recuperating in a hotel Adam is magically found by Kali, who just happens to be in the neighborhood and who insists on taking him to meet her mega-rich-totally-not-evil businessman father Typhon Cutter. Typhon has just so happened to have found Poly and is returning her to the O’Keefes on the condition Adam reports to him on the super secret, world changing work Dr. O’Keefe is doing. Sam is annoyed that Typhon gives up a perfectly good kidnapped hostage to instead rely on a stranger of a teenager to get his information for him. Adam, meanwhile, must wrestle with the most difficult question of who to trust: The world famous scientist he’s going to work for, or the kidnapping businessman who wants him to spy on the O’Keefes. Also, there aren’t really any starfish in this part, but there is a kinda psychic dolphin, so that has to count for something.

Die Another Day

Danielle brings Sam into the wonderfully strange world of James Bond with the 2002 movie Die Another Day. Although this isn’t Sam’s first James Bond film, it’s definitely one of the weirder he’s ever heard about. When your spy movie starts with James Bond and his team clandestinely surfing into North Korea only to have a helicopter they already control meet them there so Bond can replace and impersonate the diamond/arms dealer inside, you know you’re in for a wild ride. James Bond, with his usual lack of subtlety, proceeds to be captured and held for over a year by the DPRK before being released in a prisoner exchange. Bond quickly does what he does best and takes an unsanctioned trip to Cuba in search of the mole in MI6 that had betrayed him, but mostly ends up just having sex with a criminally underused Halle Berry. There’s some stuff about a de-aging clinic that turns you into the doppelgänger of whomever’s bone-marrow you get, but the movie doesn’t seem that interested in the details because it’s time for a crazy rich guy with a totally-not-evil-seriously-guys-it’s-just-for-peaceful-reasons-I-can’t-think-of-right-now space laser! There are so many crazy villain plots in this that Danielle struggles to finish her retelling in less time than it would take just to watch the actual movie. So come on and join the most famous of secret agents for some delightfully nonsensical action fun. Also, there’s a lot of setup about scorpions in the movie, but that never pays off, sorry.

Jason X

Danielle brings Sam a little Halloween in February with the 2001 sci-fi horror film Jason X. Forget everything you know about the Friday the 13th movies and Camp Crystal Lake because it does not matter. Danielle strains her own memory, and her verbal faculties, to tell Sam how Jason has been caught and is being cryogenically frozen in order to contain him. Unsurprisingly, he still manages to kill a bunch of people before being frozen, but surprisingly being frozen somehow does kills him, which is kinda the opposite point of cryogenic freezing. In any case, he’s discovered in the 25th century, and the doctor that froze him is brought back to life, mostly so she can warn them about Jason and be ignored. Jason decides he’s been dead long enough and brings himself back to life to do what he does best: Stab people who are having sex. Now loose on the spaceship (yes, this is in space) Jason will terrorize the rest of the crew which consists of a sexy android, a quippy security guard, a morally bankrupt professor, and some miscellaneous nerds. Will the crew be able to survive Jason and escape? No, of course not, most of them die, but Jason is eventually defeated which results in an ending so nonsensical that Sam and Danielle are still trying to puzzle out what the heck it means.

Beauty Queens – Part 2

This week Danielle brings Sam the explosive finale of the Libbra Bray novel Beauty Queens. The “pirates” from the Captains Bodacious reality show find our stranded beauty pageant contestants on their island and immediately do what attractive young people do everywhere. Soon, however, their fun is cut short as MoMo B. ChaCha is about to arrive to complete the arms deal the Corporation has arranged on the island. Still, the show must go on, and for reason too convoluted to go into here, the beauty pageant is back on, live from the island, with MoMo B. ChaCha as a special surprise judge. The girls, finally suspicious of the Corporation and its megalomaniacal leader Ladybird Hope, decide to stage their daring escape live on television, for some reason. There are giant snakes, tanks of piranhas inside volcano caves, and somehow still enough time to make a PowerPoint presentation. The biggest tragedy by far, though, is the loss of MoMo’s trusted confidant and stuffed lemur General Good Times, but fortunately Sam plans to open a chain of family restaurants/arcades in his honor.